A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build on fields on the edge of Huddersfield has been delayed because of the elections.
Kirklees Council decided yesterday to defer a decision on the proposed data campus for Lindley Moor.
The move caught councillors by surprise, while a campaigner fighting to keep the moor free of development expressed his delight at the delay.
The council’s Planning and Highways Committee had been due to decide on the proposal for a £200m data campus on April 19.
Lib Dem and Conservative councillors traded insults after the plan passed through a lower-ranking planning committee in February.
Kirklees decided yesterday that the matter was too controversial to debate just three weeks before the local and general elections on May 6.
Stirling Scotfield wants to build the data campus on 18 acres of Lindley Moor. The centre would provide a secure site for businesses to house their computer servers.
Campaigners have been trying to stop the data centre, as they want to keep the moor as open land.
Only a small part of Lindley Moor on the Elland side of the M62 is protected from development.
The rest of the 67-acre site on the Huddersfield side of the motorway is classified as brownfield by Kirklees.
The fields either side of Crosland Road are marked for industrial use while the land next to Weatherhill Road is for housing.
Peter Schofield, of Lindley Moor Action Group, welcomed the delay yesterday.
He said: “I’m delighted it’s been deferred. Every time we get a deferment it gives us more time to attack the plan.”
The action group plans to bring four or five members to the rescheduled meeting on June 14.
Lindley councillors yesterday expressed surprise that the decision had been put off until after the elections.
Conservative Clr Tony Brice believes councillors on the Planning and Highways Committee should make a fair decision without worrying how their votes might affect their chances in the election.
He said: “Everyone on planning committees has to be straight down the line, the application should be decided on its merits.”
But Clr Brice added that he understood the reasons for the delay. He said: “It’s a very emotive subject and certain people are playing politics with it.
“It might be thought certain groups would vote certain ways with an eye on the election.”
Lib Dem Clr Tony Woodhead believes the decision should have been made on April 19 as planned.
He said: “This decision should be made on planning law rather than public opinion. I don’t see why it needs to be put off.
“A number of people have said to me on the doorsteps that they don’t want any development on Lindley Moor. But – as all three councillors are opposed – I don’t see how the election would effect the issue.”
Clr Woodhead added he was “peeved” to be informed of the delay by the Examiner rather than by a council official.
Lib Dem Clr Christine Stanfield also believes the decision could have been made in the run-up to the council and general elections.
She said: “I think it’s a great pity that we’ve been treated like children. We know what we’re allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do.”
Clr Brice is standing for re-election in Lindley this year, with the Lib Dems hoping to take his seat.
Lindley is also part of the Colne Valley Parliamentary constituency.
The Conservatives, the Lib Dems and Labour are all in with a chance of winning the marginal seat.