Campaigners have lost their fight against a new housing estate in a decision which they say could “set a very dangerous precedent.”

Planning officers admitted that plans for the new development in Mirfield fail to comply with a council policy about space between new and existing homes.

But the council insisted that a 2.1 metre fence would screen the new estate, off Kitson Hill Road, from surrounding homes and there would be “no detrimental impact” on residents.

Kirklees Council’s Heavy Woollen planning sub-committee was warned that passing plans for 32 homes by Ben Bailey Homes would open the door to other developers.

Planning consultant Robert Halstead, a former Kirklees planning officer, said disregarding policy BE12 was a mistake.

Policy BE12 states there should be 21 metres (68ft) between habitable room windows or 12 metres (39ft) between a habitable window and a blank wall or the window of a non-habitable room.

The meeting was told as many as 10 plots were in breach of the policy.

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Mr Halstead told the committee: “This is a very dangerous proposition which could consign policy BE12 to the waste bin.

“It means that any developers can argue that this policy should be set aside because of housing need.”

More than 600 residents had submitted objections to the plans but councillors gave approval, delegating final authority to planning officers.

In April the committee backed plans for 34 homes but sparked an outcry from residents who claimed drawings were “flawed”.

A drawing described an 82-year-old woman’s bungalow with a conservatory as a “garage.”

Peter Morgan points out bungalow shown as a garage on plans for controversial development off Lady Heton Drive, Mirfield.
 

The plans were brought back and developers reduced the number of houses to 32 and agreed to screen the site with a 2.1m high fence.

At the start of the meeting at Cleckheaton Town Hall, chairman Clr Paul Kane read a statement saying that remarks made previously by the council about BE12 had been “misleading” but changes had now been made by the applicant and detailed analysis had taken place.

He was happy any decision made now would be “just.”

Residents spoke at the meeting urging councillors to defer the plans again until they compiled with policy BE12.

Clr Andrew Pinnock said the committee either had to approve or refuse, and said councillors had to balance the need for more housing with the amenity of local residents.

He said: “I think we have to be very careful but on balance we have to go with the officer’s recommendation for approval but that does not mean this decision is easy.”

Clr Kane said the land had already been allocated for housing and it was the council’s job to get the best result for the whole community.

Speaking afterwards Peter Morgan, spokesman for the Lady Heton Action Group, branded the decision “disgraceful” and added: “This has set a very dangerous precedent.

“Developers have been given open season in Kirklees.”

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