A long-running row over a controversial proposed housing development has taken a new twist – after the public was asked to come up with a name for the access road.
But as opponents and campaigners expressed their disappointment, saying it sent out a message that the scheme was “a done deal”, Kirklees Council backed down.
It said the process of consulting on road names was standard practice and was not an indicator as to whether planning permission would be granted.
However it has now been stopped.
Newcastle-based Bellway Homes wants to build 61 houses on Balderstone Hall Fields in Mirfield with access through Woodward Court, a cul-de-sac adjacent to Crossley Fields Junior and Infant School.
But in a battle that has lasted two decades campaigners with action group Save Mirfield have succeeded in winning a public inquiry to stop development and have forced Bellway to reduce its planned number of homes.
And, earlier this month, a team with West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service found evidence of mine workings and 2,000-year-old Iron Age roads, which could also have an impact on the plans.
Kirklees Council was accused of putting the cart before the horse by calling on the public to suggest names for the road into the site before any plan has been approved.
In a draft press release officers wrote: “Suggestions are invited for names to be considered for allocation to a new street to serve residential development off land adjacent [to] Woodward Court, off Wellhouse Lane.
“In general names should not duplicate or closely resemble existing street names in the area, nor are streets generally named after persons who are living or who have lived in the recent past. Preference is often given to names with local connotations.”
Mirfield councillor Martyn Bolt criticised Kirklees Council for jumping the gun and provided his own suggestion for the street’s name.
“Maybe it could be named Bellway’s Folly, because it’s folly to name something that is not approved.
“I am disappointed with Kirklees. They need to have consideration for a contentious development and look at their reputation for the future. How will members of the public perceive this?
“This is putting the cart before the horse. It is misplaced. No-one is going to be moving in there anytime soon. It sends out a message to the populace that this is a done deal and I sincerely hope that it is not. I will be raising it with Kirklees.”
Mirfield town councillor Steve Benson, who has been at the forefront of the stop campaign, accused the council of being disingenuous.
He said Bellway had not proved that it had a sustainable drainage system for the 11-acre site. In addition the Coal Authority had expressed concern at the presence of mine shafts and coal workings and an archaeology report had not been received.
“It’s way too early,” he said.
“It’s disingenuous to be asking for street names before the application has even gone in front of the committee.
“Maybe they could call it Sinkhole Avenue.”
Karl Battersby, the director for economy and infrastructure at Kirklees Council, said: “The process of consulting or asking for suggestions on road names is standard practice and does not give any indication of whether planning permission would or would not be granted.
“This process is the same for all new developments where new roads are created, and is not particular to this application. We have now stopped the process in this case.”