Thornhill Estates are behind the proposed Northern Gateway development scheme which would develop 642 acres of land from Ainley Top to Cowcliffe and including parts of Lindley Moor, Rastrick, Grimescar, Birkby and Fixby. LINDA WHITWAM looks at the company’s history, the man behind it and some of the reaction.
THE MAN behind the huge Grimescar Valley development is a conservationist and traffic campaigner in the area where he owns a country estate.
Mr Edmund Thornhill, controller and sole shareholder of Thornhill Estates, has made headlines for his support for the expansion of a conservation area on land which he owns near his house in Cambridgeshire.
He was featured in the local media there for giving the go-ahead for Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, at St Neots, Cambridgeshire, to be extended from 200 to 704 acres on his land in 2007.
The Reserve is a haven for wildlife and waterfowl and includes nature trails and bird watching facilities.
In 2006, Mr Thornhill offered a six-figure sum of his own money for improvements to a road junction near where he lives in the village of Diddington at St. Neots to be improved.
Mr Thornhill’s family has owned most of the parish of Diddington for nearly 300 years.
Speaking of the dangers of heavy traffic, he said at the time: “Getting people into the village safely is the right thing to do for it to be sustainable as a community.
“The safety of the villagers and their children who use this junction on a daily basis is of paramount importance.”
One of the issues raised by Huddersfield residents following the announcement of Thornhill Estates’ Northern Gateway scheme is the impact and potential danger of increased traffic on suburban roads.
But a spokesman for Thornhill Estates said: “At this stage we have put forward representations for inclusion in the new Local Development Framework and we are asking the council to consider land holdings for future allocation.
“Should a planning application be submitted for this site we will, of course, carry out and submit the relevant assessments which would include traffic and environmental assessments.”
Mr Thornhill added: “I can confirm that I have worked with the Highways Agency to convince them of the need for a new slip road off the A1 to the village of Diddington to replace a notoriously dangerous junction. I provided a six figure sum for the slip road to be installed.
“I can also confirm that Thornhill Estates provided land to enable the expansion of Paxton Pits nature reserve as part of the planning approval to enable the extraction of gravel deposits at Paxton Pits.’’