RESIDENTS are hoping they will no longer be fenced in after they appeared to have won a Holmfirth planning battle.
Angry homeowners on Dunford Road complained when 3m tall spiked metal fencing was put up in quaint woodlands behind Holmfirth Dyers.
Holmfirth Dyers claimed the fencing was a vital health and safety requirement to prevent people from trespassing on their property and falling into their mill ponds and beck – a tributary to the river Ribble.
But residents said the fencing was a "scar on the landscape" and made the area look like Colditz or Guantanamo Bay.
It also emerged that the £50,000 fencing had been put up by the firm before planning permission had been applied for after a health and safety risk assessment had revealed immediate action was required.
At the time, the chairman of the Holme Valley South Area Committee, Clr Ken Sims, also backed the dye firm and said he was confident they would get the thumbs up.
But he was wrong and earlier this month the council failed to give the green light leaving the dye company’s bosses staring at the prospect of having wasted thousands of pounds.
The official Kirklees Council planning refusal notice leaves little doubt that the fencing is unsuitable and will have to be torn-down. It says: "The fencing, due to its height, siting, materials and design creates a strident feature which detracts from the character and openness of the green belt and forms an obtrusive structure failing to preserve and enhance the setting of the adjacent conservation area".
Jane Headford, a freelance set designer whose home office overlooks the site, said a Kirklees Council planning enforcement officer had told her the fencing should come down.
She said: "We’re not counting our chickens before the fence is pulled down.
But nearby resident Phillip Boycott is adamant that it’s going to come down "The council can just say ‘take it down’, they don’t have to say ‘do something different’ or ‘make it prettier’. It’s too over the top, that pond’s been there for hundreds of years without problems," said Ms Headford.
"I’m concerned that if a child did fall in there’s no way we could get to them. Before, we could just climb over or cut a hole in the fence, but now we’d need heavy machinery or the fire brigade.
"We’re not giving up we’re going to go on and on. It’s been there for three months and it’s not good. They will take it down. because we’re not going to give up. Loads of people have complained and everyone wants to know when it’s coming down. The Planning Inspectorate are very keen to keep the rural feel of Holmfirth so I’m convinced it will come down."
I’m beginning to wonder if they mill should be closed down.
It is a health hazard.
The amount of pollution coming out is more and more.
You can smell the different steams and smokes, sometimes if the wind changes Holmfirth smells off the die factory.
It’s good to have jobs but we have got to think of everybody’s health.
Does it have to operate 24/7.
I really really worry that it’s not health.
I have had to phone Environmental Health at midnight because there’s been smoke pouring out in the middle of the night.
A Kirklees Council planning enforcement spokesman said that they were considering issuing Holmfirth Dyers with an enforcement notice for the removal of the fence in the next couple of weeks.
He said: "They can appeal the planning refusal and the enforcement action and then it would be up to the Planning Inspectorate.
"Normally fencing can only be erected 2m above ground level but this particular fencing is much higher."
Holmfirth Dyers’ health and safety manager, Lynda Baldwin, said the company would be considering its position at a meeting of the directors’ next week.