Green light for nearly 300 homes on farmland in Cleckheaton

Almost 300 new houses are to be built on farmland in Cleckheaton following a decision by a planning committee.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 5:30 pm
Nearly 300 homes will be built on land off Hunsworth Lane
Nearly 300 homes will be built on land off Hunsworth Lane

Developer Harron Homes will be able to access Merchant Fields via narrow Kilroyd Drive for a limited time to get construction vehicles onto the 29-acre site comprising five fields separated by trees and hedgerows that is said to “wrap around” Merchant Fields Farm.

However, planning officers said that would be limited to “a couple of weeks” and, for the remainder of the building period, access would be via a new road being created from Hunsworth Lane.

Members of Kirklees Council’s strategic planning committee today (Thursday) voted 4-2 with one abstention in favour of the development, which was previously refused and later deferred.

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That followed concerns about the layout, the impact on local roads, flooding and the failure to find a mineshaft that exists somewhere on the land.

An ancient hedgerow that cuts through the site is to be “translocated”.

The amended plan involves 291 two-storey houses with 36 two-bedroom, 105 three-bedroom – or three-bed, plus study – and 150 four-bedroom.

Of the total, 58 homes would be classed as “affordable” and pepper-potted through the estate.

Among those who queried the mix of houses was Coun Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton), who pointed out that nearly 60 per cent of the houses being built would be four-bed homes.

She said: “Re-designating some as ‘three-bed plus a study’ has to be ignored [as] the committee report states these will be deemed as four-bed.”

Her ward colleague Coun John Lawson said the design of the estate was dominated by larger homes.

He also echoed local people’s concerns about the risk of increased flooding, air quality and traffic congestion and called for the plan to be refused.

Labour members Mohan Sokhal and Carole Pattison (both Greenhead), who supported the scheme, said they were “happy” with the mix of houses and that average families needed three- or four-bed homes.

Coun Mark Thompson (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) cautioned against using nearby residential streets as access routes for construction traffic due to the “massive disruption” it would cause for residents, many of whom are elderly.