Future of Spen land in Eric Pickles’ hands

GREEN BELT The LDF has gone to Eric Pickles.
GREEN BELT The LDF has gone to Eric Pickles.

The future of historic Spen green belt land is now in Eric Pickles’ hands after Kirklees Council’s LDF proposals landed on his desk this week.

The secretary of state is now looking at the council’s local development framework, which would see an area of land at Cooper Bridge the size of 100 football fields given over for industrial development.

An astounding 7,500 letters of representation were sent to the council – with more than 98 per cent of them against the plans.

The controversial scheme, which sets out where Kirklees Council wants to build up to 22,470 homes and business units across the district, will be scrutinised by an independent planning inspector.

In Spen the council wants to give up 52 hectares of land at Cooper Bridge for industrial use, part of which is in the Kirklees Estate.

The land, behind the Three Nuns, is some of Spen’s most treasured and historic countryside, containing ancient woodland, an Anglican settlement and the ruins of Hartshead Hall.

It was also the meeting place for the Luddites for their attack at Cartwright’s Mill in Littletown 200 years ago and the site borders Kirklees Hall and Robin Hood’s grave.

The scheme has met with fierce opposition from campaigners including Keep Hartshead and Roberttown Rural group, who described the plans as ‘horrifying’.

But last March the majority of councillors voted to support them.

During a six week public consultation period last autumn, the council received 7,441 letters of representation.

And only 148 were in support of the scheme.

Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural submitted a 54-page document outlining

why the plans were unsound.

It said the consultation documents sent out by the council had not reached many residents; the site had no rail links and poor public transport links; the location was heavily congested and development would heavily impact traffic volumes.

Spen MP Mike Wood was among the individuals who made formal submissions against the proposals. He said the council had ignored factors such as poor access to public transport and no evidence of plans to improve the road systems at the site.

He added: “It is not clear how this is to be financed and it is stated ‘there could be cash flow problems’.

“If this was not enough, (the proposals) make the point that public funds could be necessary.”

Visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/localdevelopment to view all representations and documentation.