Cloud hangs over houses development

GHOST TOWN The abandoned Soothill Lane development.
GHOST TOWN The abandoned Soothill Lane development.
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A developer has stopped building houses on an old sports ground after going into administration, leading to uncertainty over the plot’s future.

Southdale Limited halted construction of the homes on the former Soothill Cricket Club field in Soothill Lane, Batley, last month.

AlixPartners confirmed that they were appointed as administrators for Southdale on April 29 due to severe cash flow problems because of loss-making contracts.

The work was being carried out on behalf of Yorkshire Housing.

Concerns have been raised by members of Soothill Community Forum, which campaigned to keep the land as a playing field for children before an application to build 34 homes and four apartments was granted in February.

They were told last year that the work was due to be finished by early 2015, and are now anxious about how long the partially-constructed development will remain in its current state.

Residents have also enlisted the help of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox.

She said: “I know there has been a lot of concerns among residents in Soothill about what is going on with the development at that site.

“My office has been in contact with Yorkshire Housing and I have been reassured that there is nothing to worry about and that this situation is not out of the ordinary.

“They say a new contractor will be found quickly and work on site will resume very shortly.”

It is believed a meeting is being conducted by Yorkshire Housing today to discuss how building can recommence at the plot.

A spokeswoman for potential contractor Kier confirmed: “We are in discussions with the client for the Soothill Lane site to see if there is a mutually viable approach to help them to complete the development, and will confirm any outcome as soon as we can.”

Although the land was green space, Coun Hanif Mayet (Lab, Batley East) thinks that planners were encouraged to give the development the go ahead because it would provide affordable housing.