Developer appeals decision to throw out 67 homes plan on Mirfield floodplain

Council planners face defending a decision to turn down a controversial scheme to build houses on a water meadow that floods in heavy rain.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 7:00 am
Members of Granny Lane Area Action Group (GLAAG) by meadowland in Hopton Bottom, near Mirfield, destined for housing
Members of Granny Lane Area Action Group (GLAAG) by meadowland in Hopton Bottom, near Mirfield, destined for housing

Wakefield-based Miller Homes has appealed a decision to throw out a proposed 67-home estate at Granny Lane in Mirfield.

A one-day hearing to discuss the merits of the case will be held at Dewsbury Town Hall on December 15.

The scheme, which first emerged in 2019, pinballed back and forth between various committees at Kirklees Council for nearly two years.

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Floodwater on Granny Lane, Mirfield. Residents fear the building of a housing estate on nearby fields will exacerbate the problem

The scheme was eventually voted down by the council’s strategic planning committee in February this year when members said they were not confident that measures being suggested to tackle flooding would work.

The plan was first approved two years ago despite the concerns of locals living in Hopton Bottom, close to the River Calder.

They said the ancient water meadow bordering narrow Granny Lane has acted as a natural floodplain for more than a millennium.

Their ongoing fear is that building houses on the land will only exacerbate periodic flooding, which, they say, is becoming more frequent.

They formed the Granny Lane Area Action Group (GLAAG) to protest against construction work and to raise their concerns with planning and highways chiefs.

It prompted campaigners to request a call in by former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, which was subsequently refused.

Opponents of the plan later said the authority had made its decision to green-light the scheme based on inaccurate flood zone information.

They said they were prepared to mount a legal challenge if the matter was not taken back to committee for reconsideration.

It returned to committee in January this year but was deferred when many of the houses planned were found to be too small.

When a decision was eventually made in February, the plan was refused on a 5-2 vote.

One member, Coun Nigel Patrick (Con, Holme Valley South), said: “I don’t believe that this site should have houses on it.

“If this committee approves this and the site floods, this committee is responsible.”

Among those backing residents is Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt.

He said: “Next month’s hearing means that the council’s decision gets reviewed by a planning inspector with all parties putting their cases again.

“The council will have to prove that its decision was sound.

“That decision was supported by Save Mirfield, Granny Lane Area Action Group and Mirfield Town Council.

“Miller Homes will be seeking to challenge the council’s decision.

“The inspector will have the final say.”