Green battle’s £66k bill

A CAMPAIGN group’s village green bid cost Kirklees Council more than £66,000, it has been revealed.

Residents Against Greenfield Exploitation (RAGE) hopes to stop the council building 36 affordable homes on Chickenley Heath by winning village green status, but the council has fought back.

The council spent £21,133.90 in its role as the registration authority handling the application, but more than twice as much as the landowner opposing the bid.

It hired a specialist barrister to argue its case during a non-statutory public inquiry this summer and spent £45,063.10 opposing the application, including nearly £38,000 in legal fees.

A report from the inquiry has recommended that the application be refused, but the council’s licensing and safety committee is yet to make a final decision.

RAGE secretary Denise Hollas said: “Obviously we’re disappointed with the recommendation but we did well up against all that. We put our heart and souls, and hours and hours of work into this and they’ve gone and got a barrister in.

“It’s the David and Goliath thing, except we haven’t won anything.”

She said the group could not afford to hire a barrister but was lucky enough to have a representative from charity Planning Sanity to help present its case.

A council spokeswoman said it was important for the council to put forward the ‘strongest possible case’ against the application because the Chickenley site had significant potential to meet the need for more homes in Kirklees.

She said council officers had carried out the majority of work in preparation but legal officers advised that it would be beneficial to have a barrister specialising in town and village green law.

The licensing and safety committee is expected to make a decision on the application on Thursday when it will also visit the site.