Plan for 267 new houses in Cleckheaton is rejected - but go-ahead given for 100 homes at another site in town
Councillors have thrown out plans to build 267 houses on almost 30 acres of farmland at Hunsworth Lane in Cleckheaton.
The scheme by Harron Homes was refused by a tight 4-3 vote at Kirklees Council’s strategic planning committee (April 28).
However the same meeting saw more than 100 new homes approved for 11 acres of land close to the M62 motorway off Whitechapel Road in Cleckheaton
Conservatives and Lib Dems raised concerns about the layout of the Hunsworth proposal, the impact on local roads, flooding and the failure to find a mineshaft that exists somewhere on the land.
That led to worries that future homes built on the land could suffer from subsidence, with owners left to “pick up the pieces”.
The site comprising five fields separated by trees and hedgerows was said to “wrap around” Merchant Fields Farm.
And it was a protected ancient hedgerow that helped get the scheme refused. One councillor, the Conservatives’ Nigel Patrick (Holme Valley South), dismissed a notion that it could be torn out and then relocated.
He said: “I defy anybody to move that hedge to a new location so that it survives and retains its ecological integrity. I just cannot see that.”
Coun Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) led the charge to preserve the site.
Speaking after the meeting she said she was “very pleased” that the committee had listened to the combination of concerns over the mine shaft, the protected hedgerow, and increased traffic using already congested local roads including the A58 Whitehall Road.
The same committee voted 6-1 to approve 122 homes off Whitechapel Road.
In a lengthy debate members argued for the retention of 80-year-old trees, which will be felled to make way for houses. They will be replaced by what was described as an “acoustic barrier” to help deflect traffic noise from the M62.
The scheme will include 24 affordable homes and there will be contributions of £71,397 (towards open space), £470,709 (education), £20,000 (walking/cycling), £23,000 (bus stops/shelters), £10,500 (junction monitoring) and £10,000 (sustainable transport).
Supporters said other housing estates had been built near the motorway and that people buying such properties were aware of the issues of noise and air quality.
Speaking after the meeting Coun Andrew Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said he did not accept the argument that previously built homes near the M62 at Birkenshaw made the current plan at Whitechapel Road any more acceptable.
And he expressed disappointment that it would involve the felling of a copse of pre-WWII mature trees.
He said: “The development in Birkenshaw is well above the level of the motorway. At Whitechapel Road it would be at the same level.
“The trees could be saved; it’s just that the developers will not want to damage their profit.
“I am still not happy about the long-term health issues of such sites. Yes, people might choose to live there, but they need to know what the effect on their health might be over the long term.”
Both Cleckheaton sites were allocated for housing part of the council’s controversial Local Plan, which will see 31,000 new homes built over the next decade.