Massive Dewsbury homes plan could be “prejudiced” by £2.9bn rail upgrade

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One of Kirklees Council’s flagship housing schemes – the 4,000-home development at Dewsbury Riverside – risks being damaged by the £2.9bn upgrade to the Transpennine rail route.

The council has been warned that disposing of “open space” land to enable the Network Rail upgrade at Calder Road in Ravensthorpe – including a new rail station – will “prejudice” the delivery of Dewsbury Riverside.

A proposed new bridge over the River Calder could also be affected.

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Taking the land could prevent the creation of a “crucial” access road feeding into the housing estate, which would “unlock” 600 to 700 homes.

Dewsbury Riverside Design. Image: Kirklees CouncilDewsbury Riverside Design. Image: Kirklees Council
Dewsbury Riverside Design. Image: Kirklees Council

In a 12-page letter opposing the land sale Wetherby-based builder Berkeley DeVeer said it represents “a clear risk to the delivery of Dewsbury Riverside”.

The parcel of land at Ravensthorpe is one of ten being disposed of. Another, near Deighton Station, involves the felling of 900 trees.

Planning staff say they are hopeful of resolving issues around the sites and that opposition can be overcome.

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However if a satisfactory arrangement cannot be negotiated Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd could seek to compulsorily purchase the land it needs.

The Transpennine Route Upgrade aims to double the number of tracks to four along the majority of the route, separate the track by way of a flyover at Ravensthorpe, and to electrify the railway from Huddersfield to Ravensthorpe.

Network Rail says it will mean more seats, more trains and faster journeys between Manchester and York via Huddersfield and Leeds.

The massive Dewsbury Riverside project will eventually see 4,000 houses built on a vast swathe of land at Thornhill Lees between Ravensthorpe and Mirfield.

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The development forms part of the controversial Local Plan approved two years ago.

Kirklees’ Local Plan, which will see tens of thousands of new homes built in the borough, was adopted in February 2019.

An order from the Government, the Local Plan includes 31,000 homes, many of which will have to be built within the green belt, as there is insufficient non-green belt land in the borough.

It equates to building 1,730 homes per annum in the borough.