People ‘misled’ over fields plan

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CAMPAIGNERS have accused Kirklees Council of misrepresenting controversial plans for a huge industrial development on the Hartshead border.

In March councillors approved a plan to allow 42 hectares of land at Cooper Bridge, Mirfield, to be developed as part of its Local Development Framework (LDF).

But campaigners say the council did not make it clear exactly which land was to be built on.

John Barraclough, from the Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural group, said: “They called it land at Cooper Bridge and that’s a misrepresentation of what it really is.

“The councillors thought that land was basically right next to a sewerage treatment works and a scrap yard but that’s not the case.”

This month Kirklees Estate – which runs from behind the Three Nuns pub in Huddersfield Road to Hartshead – went up for sale, with estate agent Strutt and Parker, saying the site would include around 50 hectares of land that the council had approved for development in its LDF.

Members of Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural said the council should have made it clear that the Cooper Bridge site would actually include parts of Kirklees Estate.

Mr Barraclough said: the council had failed in its duty to inform the public about the plan and that the council was still refusing to say exactly what land would be lost to developers.

“They refuse to give the information,” he said.

“Now the information is available from the Strutt and Parker sale details. It’s outrageous.”

Fellow group member David Lumb added: “The council has steadfastly refused to tell us where the land was on the basis that the plan was not site-specific.

“They call it Cooper Bridge and that’s a very loose term.

“Our concern is that the councillors who voted for the LDF were not aware of the type of land that was involved.”

The LDF plans have been agreed by councillors, but it must still be approved by a government inspector.

Kirklees Estate covers 750 acres and is currently on the market for around £7m.

It has been owned by the Armytage family since 1565 and is said to include the grave of Robin Hood.

The public will be invited to take part in a six week consultation on the LDF in due course and Mr Barraclough has urged local people to take part.

Also outlined in the LDF are plans for 35 hectares of green belt land to be used for business developments in Chidswell, Dewsbury, and a proposal to build hundreds of houses on green belt land in Thornhill Lees.

A council spokesman said the exact boundaries of business development sites would be determined after they had been looked at by a government inspector, and that the name of the Cooper Bridge site was chosen so that people could easily understand which location was involved.

l Letters, page 40