'Tremendous' views ruined by development in Mirfield
George Silverwood has lived in the same house on Mirfield Moor for 79 years.
His home on the main A62 Leeds Road is part of a former pub, the Victoria Inn, which dates back to the early 1900s.
George lived there with his mum and dad and the former pub was split into two. When he married Thelma, the newly-weds moved into one and his parents lived in the other.
For years George, 79, and Thelma, 73, had open fields behind them with far-reaching views to Emley Moor, Castle Hill and Holme Moss.
“The views were tremendous,” said George. Now, quite simply, they have no views at all.
To one side a new housing estate is being built. It has 166 homes.
Directly behind, blocking any view they had, is a new warehouse that dominates their home.
Further down the hill phase two of the business park - known as Moor Park 25 – has another five warehouses under construction.
The whole nature of the area has changed. Huge warehouses have loomed up where once there was a view.
The warehouse behind their home is so big it blocks out reception for Sky TV.
When it was first opened, George and Thelma had big lights shining into their bedroom. They complained and shields were put over the beams.
“You read the plans and hear about it but you never know what it’s going to be like until it’s built,” said George.
“We had fantastic views towards Leeds, Wakefield and Huddersfield.
"Margaret Thatcher always said: ‘When you buy a house, you don’t buy a view.’ I disagree.
"When most people buy a house, they buy it for the view.”
It’s not that George actually bought his house for the view, of course, he’s been there all his life.
He, Thelma and his late brother Stuart and wife Christine, who lived nearby, joined a big protest when plans to build on Mirfield Moor were first announced in the 1990s. They attended public meetings and spoke at planning hearings, all to no avail.
The land was allocated for development in Kirklees Council’s planning blueprint in 1998. Plans for a retirement village were revealed in 2009 but that idea fizzled out.
There was also talk of David Brown Gears relocating from Huddersfield or Fox’s Biscuits from Batley but that never happened either.
There was a suspicion at the time and still from local councillor Martyn Bolt that was just arm-twisting to get planning permission through.
At one stage developers tried to buy George and Thelma’s home so they could build a roundabout.
“They offered us peanuts,” recalled George. “It was funny looking back. Two guys came with briefcases and long coats. We weren’t impressed.
"Eventually they said: ‘We’ll build round you.’”
Those developers came and went and now Caddick Developments is building five warehouses ranging between 19,000 sq ft and 59,000 sq ft.
The one completed unit, behind the couple’s home, has been taken by Incora, a firm which provides supply chain management to the global aerospace industry.
The sales blurb for the 15-acre business park promises a £12.5 million boost to the local economy and 400 new jobs but, as yet, the five warehouses don’t have tenants though “interest in the site is high”, according to the latest press release.
“It’s rubbish about jobs,” said George. “I don’t believe there will be anything like 400 new jobs.
"You go from here towards Huddersfield and there’s warehouses stood empty. Why build more that you can’t fill?”
One of George’s neighbours, Gerald Clayton, 68, is also sceptical about jobs.
“Four hundred jobs in five or six warehouses? I don’t think so,” he said.
Gerald recalled early protest meetings where “men in suits said it was all going to be marvellous. There will be landscaping and you won’t see anything.”
Instead, he said, there were sheds being built “monstrously high”.
He added: “How have they been allowed to be built so high?
“All those years ago we were fighting for future generations, not just ourselves. Where is it going to end?”
Mirfield Tory councillor Bolt believes the whole Mirfield25 saga has undermined public confidence in the planning system.
“It’s been a war of attrition right from the start," he said.
"Over the years things have been eroded, tweaked and changed and nothing is how it was going to be. Now we have six tin sheds that have been built on a speculative basis.
“Public confidence has been undermined and there’s reputational damage to the planning process and the wider Kirklees Council.
“The public are right to raise serious questions.”