Big turnout for ‘knife edge’ plans

Worried residents at meeting about the new homes plan.
Worried residents at meeting about the new homes plan.

MORE than 150 people went to a meeting about controversial plans for new homes on a Cleckheaton hillside.

One woman at Wednesday’s session said she ‘felt sick’ on seeing plans for 61 houses at Lower Blacup Farm, a green oasis enjoyed by people from across the area.

And ward councillor Kath Pinnock pledged: “We will fight this tooth and nail.”

The meeting at the Whitcliffe Hotel had been called by a planning firm representing Redrow Homes, who want to build the new homes - a mix of detached, semi and terraced properties.

Coun Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton) said: “People are angry that this site has been chosen simply because it will make people a lot of money, when there are brownfield sites that need to be developed. People are not against housing, but against developers trying to build on greenfield sites.

“The planning consultant is saying ‘we will get this through’, but we will fight this tooth and nail because these are really valuable green fields.”

Sue Howard, whose home borders the fields, said: “I felt quite sick when I saw the plans. I just wanted to cry – I am devastated. These plans are disgraceful. I will have a brick wall next to my conservatory which looks over the valley. It will block out the view and all our sunlight.

“There are lots of areas in Cleckheaton which could be developed and which would really enhance the area but they are ignoring these.”

Judith Gilpin, of Hightown Road, feared increased traffic once the houses were built.

Edward Sugden, of Lower Blacup Farm, said the developers had described the land as part of the farm and that people had been asking him if he had sold it for development. He said the fields – which he leases – belong to Martin House Hospice and an overseas owner. He was just as concerned about the plans as other neighbours.

He said: “People have been saying we are going to make a lot of money, but in fact we are losing farmland.”

Mr Sugden was concerned people in the new homes, which would be next to pigsties, would complain about noises and smells from the farm.

Gordon North, from Spen Valley Civic Society, said: “We think Kirklees will refuse the application and Redrow will appeal. It’s a knife edge.”

Lisa Drake, from Save Norristhorpe Green Belt, said: “People are living in cuckoo land if they think developers will go for brownfield first.”

The planning application is to be submitted to Kirklees Council next month.

Redrow Homes say they want to take local opinion into account before finalising their plans.