Fields to factories

GREEN belt land at Cooper Bridge has been given over for business development.

Kirklees Council decided to adopt officers’ plans to give up the 42 hectare site between Hartshead, Roberttown and Mirfield, which is the equivalent size of two White Rose Centres or 12 Galpharm stadia, and make it available for businesses to buy and develop.

The council made its decision at its meeting on Wednesday after listening to impassioned pleas from protestors to spare the land, which they said had important historical significance.

The site is currently popular with walkers and cherished by many for its historical ties to the Luddites and the Brontës

Campaigners held placards outside Huddersfield Town Hall before the meeting, calling on councillors to ‘keep Roberttown and Hartshead rural’.

Inside, historian Barbara Lumb said ancient woodland and the ruins of Hartshead Moor would be swallowed up.

She said: “What on earth were the planners thinking about when they proposed this space for an employment site?”

David Lumb of Liversedge praised the Conservative proposal, which was later rejected, to not develop any land on the green belt.

He said: “I have never voted Conservative in my life, but that might change locally.”

Lisa Drake from Norristhorpe said: “The infrastructure for Cooper Bridge is unable to cope with current demand.

“The road network is already at saturation point.”

She also criticised the speed at which Thursday’s meeting was held, just 23 days after council officers published their final draft strategy for Kirklees.

Objector Sally Barraclough said: “There is a strong feeling that people’s opinions have been ignored.

“There is very little unspoiled land left in north Kirklees. Green belt should not be taken.”

Chief planning officer Jacqui Gedman said Cleckheaton was thriving as a result of additional homes built in the town over the past 10 years.

Plans for elsewhere in the Spen Valley include 10 hectares of land to be given over for development in Cleckheaton.

Exact locations are to be decided further on in the planning process when outdated government plans are scrapped next year.

Coun Kath Pinnock (Cleck, Lib Dem) said: “People are worried about traffic near Cooper Bridge.

“The road from there to Junction 25 is in Calderdale and they are going to widen it.

“The reason why it is such a popular site is it’s so near the motorway.”

She said councillors were looking at a former sewage works at Chain Bar in Cleckheaton for business development.

She added: “There is no green belt given up for development in Liversedge and Gomersal.”