Re­store land – or else

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

DE­VEL­OP­ERS be­hind a failed hous­ing plan in Mir­field have been told to re­store pas­ture­land bull­dozed for a con­tentious pro­posed hous­ing es­tate – or face the con­se­quences.

Last month plan­ners with Kirklees Coun­cil turned down a con­tro­ver­sial scheme by New­cas­tle-based de­vel­oper Bell­way Homes to build 61 houses on the site.

Now the com­pany has been told by Kirklees Coun­cil to level out the land and re­move bunds – earth mounds used as flood de­fences – that were cre­ated in readi­ness for the project.

And in the af­ter­math of its failed bid to build on the land the com­pany has also been in­vited to sell Balder­stone Hall Fields and to draw a line un­der its plans.

For­mer Mayor of Mir­field Mar­tyn Bolt, who is both a town coun­cil­lor and Kirklees coun­cil­lor, said a sug­ges­tion had been made to buy the land and hold it in covenant for com­mu­nity use.

Cam­paign­ers who 20-year bat­tle to stop the hous­ing scheme were ju­bi­lant when plan­ners turned it down. The de­ci­sion took ev­ery­one by sur­prise.

In the af­ter­math of the re­fusal they said the land “should be given back to na­ture.”

A spokesman for Kirklees Coun­cil guide­lines al­though, fol­low­ing the de­ci­sion of plan­ning com­mit­tee, we have strongly urged the de­vel­op­ers to im­me­di­ately level the site and we will con­sider all en­force­ment op­tions in the event that the earth mounds are not re­moved.

“We fully ap­pre­ci­ate the views of lo­cal peo­ple in re­la­tion to the land be­ing re­stored to its for­mer ap­pear­ance.

“We will con­tinue work­ing proac­tively with the landowner to achieve a suit­able so­lu­tion in the short­est pos­si­ble time.”

Clr Bolt said the town coun­cil’s of­fer would be sent to Bell­way.

He added: “They have been re­fused plan­ning per­mis­sion.

“The coun­cil could buy the land and hold it in covenant so that it can be used for the com­mu­nity.

“It would not be sold on.

“The coun­cil can bor­row or raise money.

“Bell­way would know that it was go­ing to be pub­lic land and not sold on for profit.

“They have a li­a­bil­ity on their hands now.

“They have a plot of land that they can­not de­velop.

“They could sell it as agri­cul­tural land to a farmer or go away with some grace by sell­ing it to the coun­cil.”

Back in 2014 Steve Ben­son, founder of Project Mir­field and now a town coun­cil­lor, said he had in­vestors ready to buy the land but Bell­way re­jected their of­fer.

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