A developer has coughed up £150,000 after councillors complained, ‘Where’s our cash?’.
Mirfield builder Darren Smith had his plans to knock down the empty Lidl store off Station Road and build 70 luxury retirement flats put on hold last month amid concerns he wasn’t providing enough community funding.
Typically, developers hand over hundreds of thousands in so-called Section 106 payments to the council.
The money is used to create playgrounds or open spaces to alter highways or boost funding for local schools.
The amount is calculated by council officials and then negotiated with the applicant.
Planning officers initially said Mr Smith did not need to contribute anything other than improvements to the adjacent canal towpath.
But councillors on the Strategic Planning Committee on November 30 were unimpressed and demanded a re-think.
After further talks Mr Smith has now agreed to pay up an additional £105,183.
He has estimated the towpath upgrades will cost £44,817.
Speaking at the December meeting of the committee, he said: “We were mindful of members comments last time and would like to offer £150,000.”
Reporters and the public were excluded from the meeting during further discussion of the finances.
Following the talks, members of the committee unanimously voted to approve the plan – which could also see Mr Smith include space for a new Mirfield library within the luxury flats scheme.
Drawings show it will be the top two floors of one of four apartment blocks, with access from the public car park opposite the existing library.
Council officials suggested the additional six-figure-sum could be used to improve two of Mirfield’s open spaces, Ings Grove Park and Mirfield Memorial Park.
But in an unusual move, a Mirfield councillor took it upon himself to try and persuade officials to spend the cash elsewhere.
In a deputation to the committee prior to the planning decision, Mirfield Tory Clr Martyn Bolt urged the council to consider providing more CCTV cameras following a “spate of crime.”
Clr Bolt also questioned whether the towpath was public open space as it is owned by the Canals and Rivers Trust, not the council.
He said: “Recently after a spate of crimes and break-ins at shops and vehicles it’s become apparent we need to enhance public safety in our ward.”
Clr Bolt said Mirfield needed two more CCTV cameras – worth about £30,000 each – to cover gaps in its coverage.
He said this would aid crime prevention and help the police track criminals through the area.
But during the private session councillors agreed the £105,000 sum should go to providing ‘affordable housing’ and not the parks or the CCTV.
Clr Bolt, said the decision was “very disappointing.”
He added: “I know there’s gaps in the CCTV system and I was trying to make the town safer.”
The proposed upgrades to the towpath include, resurfacing the length between Newgate and Station Road, reducing the steepness of the ramp up to Station Road and installing new benches and plants.