Historic woods hardly a sewage works

For ‘land at Cooper Bridge’, you may now read ‘land on the Kirklees Estate which enjoys splendid rolling topography and has pleasant views of the surrounding countryside and market towns’. The particulars of the agents selling this land also give an outline of the area which has been allocated by Kirklees Council under the LDF for de-classification from green belt to be destined for industrial development. Incredible, but true.

Shame on the council for failing to inform the local electorate of its original intentions and for misrepresenting the land in such a way that many local people failed to recognise it by its name and at least one and surely many more councillors thought it to be ‘somewhere along by a sewage treatment plant and a scrapyard’.

Before the last public LDF meeting in March, our group invited all 69 councillors to walk this land in order to appreciate its precious qualities. None came. Shame on those councillors that voted for its effective condemnation to concrete without knowing the full facts.

Shame on Kirklees planners for avoiding to this day the many questions as to the identity of the 42 hectares under consideration. We fail to understand how it could be quantified without them knowing more or less where it is situated? The approximate outline is now shown in the agents’ particulars stretching from behind the Three Nuns almost to the remains of Kirklees Priory and listed buildings on the Home Farm.

The landscape combines mixed farming and ancient woodland, providing a rich habitat for wildlife and is crossed by many well-trodden public footpaths. The full horror of its potential reckless destruction is now finally revealed for all to see.

Shame on the council for giving in to developer demand by wanting to provide green land for them now rather than responsibly ensuring that all former industrial and derelict land is used as a priority and, only on an as and when required basis.

Failure to do this will only leave a legacy of scruffy ‘bomb sites’ for future generations to have to deal with while destroying this precious landscape for ever and with the distinct possibility, because it is near the motorway junction, that it could ultimately be consigned to a mass of huge warehouses, a customary landmark pub and hotel and a selection of coffee houses and fast food outlets.

Kirklees Council has a laudable policy to provide vital jobs in the area over the coming years. However, it needs to quantify and qualify the real need for industrial jobs from prospective employers and provide land for this to happen, as it originally stated it would, where the Kirklees workforce supply is situated and encourage employers to locate on such sites.

There is no benefit in concentrating employment in a huge area round Cooper Bridge and it will be self-defeating in attracting a high percentage of employees from outside the council boundary and creating additional traffic implications which are too terrible to contemplate.

Finally, we understand that there is now interest from Calderdale to join in with Kirklees to extend the de-classification of the portion of land to include Kirklees Estate land which is in Calderdale reaching west as far as Cooper Bridge road. This dreadful prospect simply worsens what we already face, as if that were possible.

So, we appeal to those people who are passionate about saving all this land before it is too late to look for information on www.roberttownvillage.org.uk and contact us on krhrural@gmail.com. It seems that we shall have until some time in September to put our case to the government inspectorate and we need your help.

John Barraclough

On behalf of Keep Roberttown and Hartshead Rural