Historic land under threat

Sally Barraclough and Lisa Drake explain to a passer-by outside Huddersfield Town Hall why development at Cooper Bridge is a bad idea.
Sally Barraclough and Lisa Drake explain to a passer-by outside Huddersfield Town Hall why development at Cooper Bridge is a bad idea.

KIRKLEES Council would be wrong to put forward a site of enormous historical significance for an industrial development that would dwarf the White Rose Centre.

That was the message from people protesting against plans for a 42-hectare business development at Cooper Bridge.

They had their say at the start of a meeting on Wednesday – but councillors agreed to set aside the land on the Mirfield border for development.

The site is currently popular with walkers and is cherished by many for its historical ties to the Luddites and the Brontë family.

Campaigners held placards outside Huddersfield Town Hall before the meeting, calling on councillors to ‘Keep Roberttown and Hartshead rural’.

Inside, historian Barbara Lumb said ancient woodland and the ruins of Hartshead Moor would be swallowed up.

She said: “What on earth were the planners thinking about when they proposed this space for an employment site?”

David Lumb of Liversedge praised the Conservative proposal, which was later rejected, to develop no green belt land.

He said: “I have never voted Conservative in my life, but that might change locally.”

Protester Christine Thorburn told councillors that the area was already congested with traffic from the A62, and that a new business development would only make things worse.

She said: “This green belt land is essential for us all to prevent urban sprawl and for people to use it as they do.”

Lisa Drake from Norristhrope said: “The infrastructure for Cooper Bridge is unable to cope with current demand. The road network is already at saturation point.”

She also criticised the speed at which Thursday’s meeting was held, just 23 days after council officers published their final draft strategy for Kirklees.

Sally Barraclough added: “There is a strong feeling that people’s opinions have been ignored. There is very little unspoiled land left in North Kirklees. Green belt should not be taken.”

Coun Lisa Holmes (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal) also rallied against development.

She said that the history of the area was precious to local communities, with some residents claiming the site was haunted.

She added: “I can guarantee that those ghosts will come back to haunt those that support the proposal.”

Coun Holmes also argued that congestion would be made worse under the LDF plan.

She said: “Communities in my ward will be seriously and adversely affected.

“Have you ever tried to drive across the A62 from Liversedge to Cooper Bridge in the morning? You find you see pedestrians walking faster on foot than you do in your car.”

Coun Holmes added that Cooper Bridge’s proximity to the motorways was no guarantee that it would attract investors.

She also warned that the area would be hit twice by LDF proposals, with some of the green belt falling under Calderdale Council’s control.

She claimed residents would face “twice the impact” when Calderdale determine where development will take place.

Even though the strategy has been agreed, it cannot be signed off until next year, due to a delay in new government development policies coming into force.

• For the full story, with reports from Wednesday’s meeting and local reaction, pick up a copy of this week’s Mirfield Reporter.