Preserve our historic countryside

AT a packed meeting at Roberttown Church on Friday, residents listened with growing dismay to the latest proposals for the Local Development Framework. This involves developing industry on green belt land in the Three Nuns area.

This has been wrongly described as the Cooper Bridge development as part of the strategic development of Huddersfield, not North Kirklees. The area would cover over 50 acres, (bigger than the whole of Oakwell Hall Country Park) and stretch from Cooper Bridge to within 500 metres of Hartshead and Roberttown. It is estimated to attract 3,000 workers.

Apart from the fact that the A62 is not capable of sustaining such a development, it’s obvious to anyone with a sense of history and a love of the environment that the area should be protected, not destroyed.

There are four areas of ancient woodland: Dockentail Wood – famous for its bluebells; Hartshead Hall Wood; Brook Shrog Wood; and Roe Head Wood. There are also the remains of an ancient settlement, Parkin Hole along Hartshead Lane which was settled by the Angles but which in the early 19th century included a cottage owned by the Luddite traitor William Hall. There are the medieval ruins of the manor house, Hartshead Hall.

The site is adjacent to a listed monument, the Dumb Steeple and the listed former Roe Head School on the other – attended by the Brontë sisters and where Charlotte was later a teacher.

It is situated partly in the grounds of the Kirklees Estate which contains 11 listed buildings as well as the ruins of the 12th century Priory. Not to mention the secluded glade where Robin Hood is reputedly buried. It contains the meeting place and the first part of the route taken by the Luddites when they marched to attack Cartwright’s Mill in April 1812.

Apart from these compelling reasons, this area is beautiful walking country.

It is crossed by the Kirklees Way and the Bronte Way, provides a ‘green lung for the people of Spen and safeguards the rural setting of Hartshead and Roberttown.

It is a special place of pilgrimage for those interested in Luddite History and the Brontës. It is the countryside depicted in Charlotte Brontë’s novel, Shirley, and her description of the view overlooking this beautiful valley slope would be covered by ugly buildings.

There are plenty of more suitable places for industrial development, for example at Denby Dale. This has access to the M1, an arguably better motorway than the M62.

Instead of destroying this highly valued landscape we should take steps to turn it into a conservation area.

I would also urge people to write to the council at Local.development@kirklees.gov.uk and to attend the meeting at Cleckheaton town hall on February 1 at 7pm to discover the plans for the rest of North Kirklees. The deadline has been extended for comments, but only by one week, to February 13.

BARBARA LUMB

Rydale Court

HIGHTOWN