Developers who failed to get permission for a huge revamp of a historic Holme Valley mill are back for another try.
Sheffield-based Prospect Estates was denied approval to convert the Grade II listed Westwood Yarns mill at Washpit, which lies on the green belt, into a 23-bed hotel along with 48 houses, 16 apartments, a restaurant and offices.
Kirklees Council had delayed a decision on the ambitious scheme for more than a year, blaming the developer for not providing enough information.
But in an unusual twist, Prospect Estates went over the heads of the council’s planning committee and lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate – saying Kirklees Council was taking too long to decide the matter.
But the move backfired as an inspector refused permission on the grounds of its effects on the green belt, lack of an accurate traffic report and damage to the listed building.
A little over four months on from that decision Prospect Estates has now submitted two new applications for the sprawling former textiles site near Holmfirth.
The latest proposals removes the hotel and spa and some office space, replacing these with a residents’ gym and housing.
But the plans for classic car facility the Carding Shed and its Oil Can Cafe, workshop and shop are still included.
Michael Martin, a local resident speaking on behalf of those objecting, said: “We feel that the new proposal is a fairly minor revision of the original proposal and does not address the fundamental issues we and the Planning Inspectorate raised.
“A major part of this is that the main access road to the site – Washpit New Road – is inadequate and needs substantial upgrading.
“Not surprisingly neither the council nor the developer are offering to do this.”
At the last planning committee on the matter Kirklees Highways officials expressed no concerns with the road issues, sparking angry comments from Holme Valley South councillors.
Clr Nigel Patrick said he was “incredulous” that Kirklees highways chiefs believed the report.
“Nobody on this planet can believe that,” he said. “It’s just wrong.”
Clr Ken Sims added: “I despair with our highways department, I don’t think they’re on the same planet as me, I really don’t.”
Clr Donald Firth dubbed officials’ position as “crazy” and called the consultants behind the traffic survey “clowns”.
But in his refusal decision, Planning Inspector Roger Catchpole agreed with residents.
He criticised the traffic report, saying there was insufficient information and a “misleading evaluation” of traffic levels.
Residents say the access to the site is “simply not wide enough” and has suffered a number of accidents.
In their new report for the council’s planning committee they say a significant reduction in the number of dwellings is the only way the scheme could be viable alongside major road improvements.
A council planning committee is due to discuss the revised plan on Thursday, March 8.