Work has started at the site of one of the most controversial housing developments in Huddersfield.
A number of diggers and other earth-moving equipment has moved on to fields in the Grimescar Valley, to begin investigating the condition of the land.
Thornhill Estates’ application for the houses on land off Yew Tree Road and Burn Road, Birchencliffe, had split the community.
Planning papers presented to councillors showed 286 people in support of the housing while 468 people opposed it, including MPs Jason McCartney and Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield Civic Society and community pressure group Save Grimescar Valley.
Residents say the roads in the picturesque area are already choked, and schools and health facilities overcrowded.
The land is classed as Provisional Open Land (POL) and Kirklees Council has no up-to-date Local Plan.
With no current plan in place, councillors were told the authority was likely to face a costly defeat at any planning inquiry.
And a report from planning officers said: “In the absence of both a five-year housing supply and any significant and demonstrable adverse impacts that can be evidenced and substantiated... the principle of developing this site is considered to be acceptable in this instance”.
Diggers have now arrived at the site to begin preparatory work, which involves investigating the condition of the land.
Last week, it emerged that housing developers have been offered the chance to buy land, with estate agents selling off more than 24 acres off Burn Road.
Walker Singleton is advertising the land for sale and asking for bids to be in by November 13.
The land is divided into two areas, accessed off Burn Road and Yew Tree Road, and the publicity material advertising the land says it is blessed with “excellent” connections to the motorway network, with the M62 motorway just a few hundred yards away.
It also highlights local restaurants and a filling station and the nearby Huddersfield Golf Club.