It means small seedlings and shrubs will take the place of “standard” or mature trees, which were previously agreed as part of conditions for landscaping at the Moor Park scheme – better known locally as Mirfield 25 – on Leeds Road.
The move has disappointed local residents, who made more than 70 objections to the proposed changes.
They described the site as “horrendous” and “a complete eyesore”.
But members of Kirklees Council’s strategic planning committee agreed on August 26 to supersede a previous landscaping plan after it emerged a man-made slope leading up to the site was too steep to plant and manage mature trees.
Consequently 74 planned trees and around 650 seedlings or “whips” will be replaced by around 1,800 whips, which are around 50cm to 1m in height.
Locals say a 30m buffer zone has also been reduced to just 3m.
The council’s trees department said “woodland type planting” allowed for “significantly more trees to be planted, which over the long term will result in a better, denser, screen and higher wildlife value”.
It said neither standard nor whip trees would have an immediate screening effect, with some trees taking between 20 and 50 years to reach maximum height.
Among those who fought the change was Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield), who called for a committee decision on the contentious issue.
He said the issue around trees had emerged “only now as the current developer is selling their interest to another”.
He also criticised the council’s planning conditions as “not specific enough” as they allowed “too much wriggle room” for developers Taylor Wimpey.
Coun Bolt called on the committee to “reject the request to change the previously approved condition and the developer plants what they previously promised.
“Committee may make a recommendation or caveat that the trees are indeed larger than 1.8m and not the minimum they can get away with.”
Coun Carole Pattison (Lab, Greenhead) said there would ultimately be more than 4,000 seedlings planted on site and although some would not survive, what she described as “a mass” of some 3,000 whips would cover the area in question.
The committee voted 4-1 to approve the variation, with two abstentions.