MAJOR concerns have been raised about a controversial 260 home development on a greenfield site, which more than 100 residents have also objected to.
The plans by Harron Homes are for 267 homes on Merchants Field Farm in Hunsworth, Cleckheaton, but the ecological damage the plans would cause, concerns around mining shafts under the site and more have seen experts recommend the plans be thrown out.
More than 100 local residents have also expressed their concerns and anger at the planned development, which would see a major greenfield site tarmacked over for development.
Harron Homes said the plans are "sustainable, viable, and deliverable" and that it "satisfies national and local planning policy".
The site was part of the Green Belt until it was earmarked for development in Kirklees Council’s Local Plan for development in 2019.
The long-running application was first put forward more than 12 months ago, but public consultation only closed on January 15 due to major concerns being raised over the plans.
In the plans, Harron Homes said the site would “create a sustainable residential development that supports the existing community and respects the positive features of the site”.
One of the major consultation concerns came from Kirklees Council’s Biodiversity Officer and the loss of a major hedgerow on the site, saying it would cause “significant ecological harm”.
He said: “I object on the basis of absence of biodiversity net gain.
“Overall, the proposals are not in accord with national or local policy and there are clear and robust reasons for refusal.
“The current layout requires the removal of an existing double hedgerow which is something that is strongly opposed. On assessment these hedgerows are a significant landscape feature, which meet the criteria of an ‘important hedgerow’ under the Hedgerow Regulations.
“On that basis, the removal of these hedgerows does not meet Local Plan policy LP30 and would be contrary to the Hedgerow Regulations. Furthermore, previous formal pre application advice did set out that future applications should retain these hedgerows and provide details about their management. That advice appears not to have be considered in the latest design.
“Given the above, the current proposal cannot be supported. Any amended design needs to retain this double hedgerow and integrate it as an important feature in the layout.”
The Coal Authority also opposed the plans, raising concerns about building on or close to mining shafts.
It said: “Any form of development over or within the influencing distance of a mine entry can be dangerous and raises significant safety and engineering risks and exposes all parties to potential financial liabilities.
“Building over or within the influencing distance of a mine entry should wherever possible be avoided.
“The Coal Authority does not consider that the information submitted in support of the planning application adequately addresses the impact of coal mining legacy on the safety and stability of the proposed development. As such, the Coal Authority must object to the planning application.”
It was also noted that no affordable housing numbers are currently provided by the developers, but the plans said "the final percentage delivered on the site will be subject to viability assessment".
Complaints from local residents raised concerns over various issues, including loss of Green Belt land, poorly planned access along narrow lanes, a lack of affordable housing, damage to air quality and added pollution from the development, fears over flooding risks and poor public transport links in the area.
One resident said: “These developers are only concerned about one thing - money!
“No consultation with residents and no care or thought for the impact on us. No intention to work together or discuss any concerns.
“No concern for keeping significant green spaces for people to enjoy. No affordable housing. No concern about flooding or building on mine shafts.
“No proposals about building the access road on Hunsworth Lane first. No concern for existing infrastructure, road network, school places etc.”
Another added: “I realise that we do need to meet housing quotas, but surely not at any cost?!
“If there needs to be housing there please make it housing for the future for the environment and for improved quality of life not for the profiteering of developers.”
In the planning statement, Harron Homes said: “Site requirements of the allocation are met through the proposed scheme.
“No other harm will accrue, as demonstrated by the technical assessment works that have been undertaken. There are no constraints that would prevent development of the site for residential use.
“In view of the above, it is considered the scheme satisfies both national and local planning policy and represents a suitable development proposal for the site that addresses all the relevant and material considerations.
“The development clearly constitutes sustainable development. The development of the site is viable, deliverable and there are no technical constraints to advancing residential development on this site.
“In this regard, we would invite the local Planning Authority to assess this application and to grant full planning permission for the proposed residential development without delay.”