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Planning application for Bellway's new housing scheme at Mirfield set to be unveiled

Campaigners gear up to fight for Balderstone Hall fields

Mirfield town councillors (from the left): Vivien Lees-Hamilton, James Taylor and Kath Taylor in Hepworth Lane, Mirfield, with Balderstone Hall fields behind them.

Campaigners are gearing up to fight another housing development in Mirfield just days after planners gave one the green light.

Bellway Homes, one of the UK’s biggest house builders, has submitted plans for 135 new homes on the Balderstone Hall fields site off Hepworth Lane.

The firm announced last November it wanted to build there but now the company has put in a formal application to Kirklees Council.

The plans must go through legal checks, or verification, before being accepted and published by the council but, the Examiner understands, that could happen within days rather than weeks.

Mirfield town councillor James Taylor found that the plans had been submitted for verification when he investigated hedge-cutting on the land.

Clr Taylor feared Bellway may have started work but found it was electricity company Northern Powergrid clearing power lines.

When he contacted Bellway, Clr Taylor was told that plans had gone in.

Clr Taylor said that instead of the 136 homes originally suggested, the application was for 135 with one house removed to allow for extra parking space.

An access road from the narrow Hepworth Lane had been scrapped, meaning cars would enter the new estate through Wellhouse Lane and Woodward Court. There would be a pedestrian-only access from Hepworth Lane.

Clr Taylor said he had been told Kirklees Council was insisting on 40% of the houses being ‘affordable homes’.

“We will now wait for the planning application to be verified and the battle will begin again,” he said.

Residents beat off Bellway’s development plans for the fields after a public inquiry in 1999 but always knew the firm would come back one day.

Campaign group Save Mirfield will lead the fight but the group was given a bloody nose after Kirklees councillors backed Ben Bailey Homes’ plans for 34 houses off Kitson Hill Road, Mirfield.

Concerns about great crested newts on the site were dismissed by the Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee on Thursday and Save Mirfield spokesman Keith Andrews branded the decision a “disgrace.”

“We have taken a blow but we will learn and bounce back for next time,” said Mr Andrews. “In my view Kirklees planning is not fit for purpose and we might as well just go to the stationer’s and buy a rubber stamp and save taxpayers some money.”

Kirklees Council’s planning policy is in disarray after the collapse of its Local Development Framework and planners will not fight public inquiries.

In a statement Bellway confirmed the application and said: “The proposed 135 new houses will assist in providing much needed family homes for the area, in a district which is not currently meeting demand for new homes.

“Of this, 50 of these new houses will be affordable homes helping to further meet the needs of the local community. The scheme includes significant improvements to highway safety in the vicinity of the site, school and locality.

“For the adjacent school, we will be creating a new 24 space car park and drop off area for use by parents. There will also be financial contributions made to the provision of sports facilities and open space as well as a contribution to the provision of education facilities within the district.

“This development by Bellway will also bring a wide range of additional benefits to the wider community, including the creation of construction and supply chain jobs, additional customers for town centre businesses and the provision of additional funding to the council in the region of £1.9 million via the Government’s New Homes Bonus Scheme.”

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