RESIDENTS are celebrating a stunning victory over developers wanting to build on a Huddersfield beauty spot.
There was loud applause at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday as councillors narrowly rejected a proposal to build on Lindley Moor.
Stirling Scotfield was seeking planning permission for a data campus to provide a secure site for businesses to house their computer servers.
But Kirklees Council’s Planning and Highways Committee knocked back the proposal yesterday, saying it went against a blueprint for the area.
John Procter, of Lindley Moor Action Group, which has been campaigning against the data campus, said: “I’m pleased and a little surprised at this memorable decision.”
Richard Irving spoke for Stirling Scotfield at yesterday’s meeting.
He told councillors that a data campus at the junction of Lindley Moor Road and Crosland Road would boost the economy in Huddersfield.
“This development will create jobs,” he said. This is a tremendously exciting opportunity to improve the economy of Kirklees in what are still testing times.
“The development will stimulate growth and create more job opportunities.”
But other speakers rubbished Stirling Scotfield’s claim that a data campus would create 150 jobs.
Peter Butters of Lindley Moor Action Group was an computer professional for 30 years.
The Crosland Road man said: “I have experience of operating and planning data centres. They are increasingly capable of being managed from elsewhere. Problems can be fixed remotely.
“In my view, the claim made by the developer in terms of jobs is false.”
Fellow action group member Geoff Wood queried the developer’s claim that 2,000 people would be employed in building the data campus. “I worked in construction for 40 years and I believe the figure of 2,000 is vastly overstated.
“I worked on Bradford City’s ground after the 1985 fire. We had 250 people on site and we rebuilt the stadium in 23 weeks.
“I think the data campus would need a workforce in the region of 50 to 75 at any one time.”
Lindley Lib Dem Clr Christine Stanfield said that – even if 150 jobs were created at the site – it would come at too high a price.
She said: “I would be greatly saddened to lose all those acres of green grazing land for a paltry 150 jobs. I think that’s a very poor exchange.”
Clr Stanfield added that residents were opposed to the plan. She said: “We all know that no-one in Lindley wants this.”
Fellow Lindley Lib Dem Clr Cahal Burke agreed. “The overwhelming response to this proposal is negative. We’ve got to look at the disastrous environmental impact it would have.”
Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney called on the committee to delay its decision.
The Conservative said: “I’m concerned that there are councillors who haven’t had the opportunity to visit the site. Surely it’s important to make the right decision rather than an ill-judged and hasty one.”
Committee member Clr Andrew Pinnock called for the plan to be refused because it was at odds with the Unitary Development Plan (UDP).
The Kirklees blueprint allocates 31 acres of Lindley Moor on either side of Crosland Road for industrial development. But the Stirling Scotfield plan only covered 18 acres on the western side of the road.
Cleckheaton Lib Dem Clr Pinnock said: “The UDP says the site must be comprehensively developed.”
The data campus plan was rejected by six votes to four.
Clr Pinnock voted to refuse the plan, along with fellow Lib Dems Clr Roger Battye of Dalton and Clr David Woodhead of Holme Valley North. Conservatives Clr Martyn Bolt of Mirfield, Kirkburton’s Clr Adrian Murphy and Clr David Hall of Liversedge and Gomersal also voted to reject the proposal.
Kirkburton Conservative Clr Christine Smith voted against the proposal to reject the plan, as did Labour’s Clr Mahmood Akhtar of Batley East and Clr Barbara Jones and Clr Mohan Sokhal of Greenhead.
Holme Valley South Conservative Clr Ken Sims and Labour’s Clr Steve Hall from Heckmondwike abstained.