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Latest twist in Balderstone Hall planning saga

Work at the Balderstone Hall fields.
Work at the Balderstone Hall fields.

Telecommunications cabling for a contentious proposed housing estate in Mirfield has been laid before any planning permission has been granted.

That’s the fear of campaigners against the scheme at Balderstone Hall Fields which has been earmarked for development by Bellway Homes.

Residents in nearby Woodward Court, close to the fields, and who witnessed work being carried out by British Telecom were told “it’s for the new housing development.”

It is the latest stage in a long-running saga. In June the public was asked to come up with a name for an access road.

But as opponents and campaigners expressed their disappointment, saying it sent out a message that the scheme was “a done deal”, Kirklees Council backed down.

Commenting on the latest work Cheryl Tyler from campaign group Save Mirfield said: “BT have now installed a new box and cables in Woodward Court. Workmen completed the work last week.

“They didn’t do this last time. The application hasn’t yet gone to committee and they don’t know when it will, so how can they can do this kind of work?

“The amount of money it has cost Bellway thus far implies supreme confidence to me.”

Newcastle-based Bellway Homes wants to build 60 houses on the former meadowland with access through Woodward Court, a cul-de-sac adjacent to Crossley Fields Junior and Infant School.

In a battle that has lasted two decades campaigners have succeeded in winning a public inquiry to stop development and have forced Bellway to reduce its planned number of homes.

Just last week local residents reported the presence of large earthmovers stripping topsoil from the 11.4 acre parcel of land.

A spokesman for Bellway said it was carrying out the work at the behest of the Coal Authority and Kirklees Council to explore the development and to identify the existence of unrecorded historic localised mine workings.

There were concerns that coal dust disturbed by the work could be contaminated by toxic substances including arsenic and cadmium. Bellway said ground investigations showed the topsoil was not contaminated.

A spokesman added that Bellway hoped planning officers will make a recommendation “in the near future.”

Evidence of mine workings follows the discovery earlier this year of what could be iron age roads and a circular anomaly that could be the remains of an ancient roundhouse dating back 2,000 years.

Another campaigner, Mirfield town councillor Steve Benson, said the finds were potentially “a game-changer.”