Contentious Mirfield homes project dropped from planning schedule

The fields by Balderstone Hall.
The fields by Balderstone Hall.

Campaigners battling a controversial homes plan in Mirfield have demanded to know when the scheme will be debated.

It comes as the proposed development at Balderstone Hall fields was dropped from a local authority strategic planning committee.

It had been scheduled to be discussed by Kirklees Council on August 2.

The earliest it can now be heard is September.

The news has further frustrated opponents of the scheme, which, if it gets the green light, will see 61 houses built on the 11.4 acre site off Wellhouse Lane.

In 2015 Newcastle-based housing firm Bellway Homes pulled out of its plan to build on the fields just a few minutes before councillors were due to consider it.

The eleventh hour withdrawal came 16 years after the firm lost a public inquiry for a new build estate behind Crossley Fields Junior and Infants School.

Cheryl Tyler from campaign group Save Mirfield said the constant to-ing and fro-ing was wasting time with the financial burden borne by taxpayers.

“This is about the sixth time this has happened,” she said.

“The application went in last November and was validated that month. The public consultation started in December.

“The costs are escalating for this process. The council must have spent a stack of money in 2014-15. That’s a lot of money, time and effort dealing with this application.

“I am curious about the cost of the whole process. I want to know how much that is. The council spent a lot of money previously and that went nowhere.”

Objectors have been buoyed up by recent developments on the site, with evidence of historic mine working prompting the Coal Authority to advise that Bellway should revise its plans.

Now Save Mirfield has reiterated its call for extensive surveys to be carried out across the entirety of the site, which is close to grade II listed Balderstone Hall.

And they claim it is not even designated for housing as it is classified as “safeguarded” in Kirklees Council’s Local Plan and as “provisional open land” in the Urban District Plan that preceded it.

“Our lawyers and consultants believe that the council should be looking at it as if it’s not available for housing,” said Mrs Tyler.

“We have asked for the whole site to be investigated. We wrote to council planners and asked for our concerns to be passed onto the Coal Authority.”

Kirklees Council’s Joanne Bartholomew said: “Bellway Homes have been asked to carry out a site investigation to find out the locations of any former mining activity which may exist on the site.

“Until this work is complete, and the results have been published and considered, it is not possible to provide the date of the planning committee which the application would be presented to for a decision.

“Bellway Homes are responsible for the cost of the site investigation works and the reports.”