A HOLMFIRTH builder has called for Kirklees planners to take stronger action against developers who he claims continue to flout planning regulations.
Independent construction manager, Nick Charlton, claims that ‘irresponsible developers’ are forging ahead without permission despite council officers warning them to stop working.
Amid an 18-month-long battle over a new-build housing estate in Holmfirth, Mr Charlton claims that Huddersfield based Fortis Homes trespassed on his land on Summervale and cleared an area of woodland without any prior permission.
Fortis Homes does have permission to build seven houses on the former Littlewood’s Garage site on Station Road, but a further two-house plan with an access road is still under consideration.
But Mr Charlton says neither Fortis’ original nine-house application or the subsequent seven-house amendment included any permission to remove the trees, re-profile the embankment or build a retaining wall, and he claims no planning application notice was ever put up near to the site.
Mr Charlton, ironically the original developer of Summervale in the 1980s, also claimed the Kirklees Council complaints team acknowledged Fortis had been working outside planning approval, but said they had done nothing about it.
He said: “They used access from our private land to dig up land and trees while we were away on holiday in Portugal in December 2006. They say they weren’t aware that the boundary along the development was ours.
“We complained to Kirklees but all this seems to be brushed under the carpet. Now we’ve been living under this horrendous mess for the last 18 months. We used to have a private garden, but now we can wave to people on New Mill Road.”
Fortis Homes now intends to put up six-metre-high wall on the embankment facing Summervale in a bid to shore up the slope for an access road on the plateau above.
At Kirklees Council’s planning sub-committee’s monthly meeting to rule on contentious planning applications, councillors deferred the decision of the wall and the extra properties.
Mr Charlton said as a developer himself he has nothing against the revamp of the site but believed the wall and overlooking properties would tower more than 20 metres above Summervale, making living on the street more like a term in Leeds prison.
And he claimed the imposing height of the structures would effectively block out the sun and spoil the view for residents on the other side of the valley towards Upperthong.
Mr Charlton also suggested that this was not an isolated incident and cited the Express & Chronicle coverage of the ‘Ghost Town’ at Bramble Bank, Holmfirth, as another incident of the council being ignored by hasty developers.
“I have also had a constant involvement with that site as the proposed diversion of the ancient Berry Bank lane bridleway by Younger Homes would have brought the bridleway right down to our boundary to allow two more houses to be built just above us.
“The diversion was objected to strongly as Berry Bank Lane dates back to the 1700s and was one of the oldest cobble paved packhorse trails in Yorkshire.
“It has been partially ripped up and its original line altered and partially replaced by tarmac – all without consent.”
Kirklees Council and Scissett based Fortis Homes both declined to comment.