DEVELOPMENT work has begun at a flashpoint site in Huddersfield.
Miller Homes has moved machinery onto Lindley Moor in the last few days.
The developer won planning permission last year to build 300 homes on fields next to the M62 following years of protest.
Heavy earth-moving equipment has been working on the land off Cowrakes Road and Weatherhill Road.
Clr Cahal Burke, who campaigned against the development spoke of his sorrow as he watched the equipment moving on to the fields.
“I saw some big earth-moving machines moving in. It makes it a reality. When they move in you realise that it’s all going to be gone,” said the Lindley Lib Dem.
“It was upsetting to see the machinery move in, knowing that the fields will be lost forever.”
Clr Burke blamed Kirklees Council planners for giving the proposal the green light last year.
“It’s just a feeling of sheer disappointment at a decision that should never have stood and one against the views of the majority of residents,” he said.
Clr Burke also blamed Kirklees councillors from the 1990s who passed the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) which allocated the land at Lindley Moor for housing.
“Lindley Moor should never have been in the UDP for development,” he said.
As part of the work, a public footpath through the middle of the site from Crosland Road to Weatherhill Road has now been closed.
Miller Homes regional operations director Andrew Davies wrote to residents on Friday to explain the work.
He wrote: “I am contacting you directly to advise the initial site establishment works are now scheduled to commence in mid-August 2012, these include securing the site and the temporary closure of footpath 408 as agreed with Kirklees Council.
“We will be updating you regularly during the construction process and also advising you of progress on the development.
“By its very nature construction work involves the use of heavy machinery to shape and excavate the site. Miller Homes have worked closely with the council to develop an agreed strategy to minimise any environmental impact.
“Obviously during the construction process there will be some disruption. However, we have made arrangements to minimise these through restricted delivery times and controlled working hours; 07:30 – 18:00, Monday to Friday, 08:00 – 13:00, Saturday, as noted in our planning permission, and ask for your co-operation and forbearance whilst construction activities are being undertaken.”
The council’s Huddersfield Planing Sub-committee voted eight to seven last August against Miller Homes’ proposal to build 294 houses at the site.
But Kirklees officials insisted that councillors reconsider the matter the following month. The sub-committee then voted eight to seven in favour of the development.
The Lindley Moor Action Group opposed the plan, saying it would put too much strain on the road network and the schools in the area.
After winning planning permission, Miller Homes agreed to invest in Lindley’s infrastructure, including:
Providing £2m for highways works off-site, including improvements at Ainley Top.
Giving £875,000 to schools in the area.
Providing affordable housing worth £1.4m.
Giving £90,000 for work on improving open space.
Spending £10,000 improving footpaths.
A second area of Lindley Moor is also in line for development.
Last August the council gave Stirling Scotfield permission to set up a data centre at Peat Ponds Farm and Haigh Cross Farm off Lindley Moor Road.
The company claims the development – which will provide a secure site to house computer servers – will create 150 jobs.
Lindley Moor timeline
March 1999: Kirklees Council brought in its Unitary Development Plan, a 15-year blueprint for the district. The UDP allocated fields either side of Crosland Road for industrial use while the land next to Weatherhill Road was earmarked for housing.
July 2009: Developer Stirling Scotfield unveiled its plan to build a data centre on 46 acres of land at the junction of Lindley Moor Road and Crosland Road. The 340,000sq ft development would provide a secure site for companies to house their computer servers.
June 2010: Kirklees Council’s Planning and Highways Committee threw out the proposal to build a data centre on Lindley Moor.
February 2011: Miller Homes submitted a plan to build 300 homes off Weatherhill Road. Stirling Scotfield reapplied for planning permission to set up a data centre off Crosland Road.
August 2011: The council’s Huddersfield Planing Sub-committee voted eight to seven in favour of the data centre and eight to seven against the homes plan.
September 2011: The sub-committee reconsidered Miller Homes’ proposal after officers insisted that the matter should be reopened. Councillors voted eight to seven in favour of the development.