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Campaigners 'disgusted' as councillors approve plan for 190 homes in Grimescar Valley

posted 15 Nov 2015, 02:08 by Grimescar Greenfields   [ updated 20 Nov 2015, 05:06 ]

Developers win backing to build in Huddersfield beauty spot after campaigners' pleas to save valley. 

190 houses

Disabled housewife Sue Roper was left on the brink of tears after campaigners finally lost an emotional and bitter battle to save Grimescar Valley. 

Developers want to build 190 homes on the picturesque open land near Ainley Top but residents say the roads are already choked and schools and health facilities overcrowded. Protesters went into battle at Kirklees Council’s Strategic Planning Committee, giving passionate speeches begging councillors to reject the plans.

Ultimately, it was all in vain as the Huddersfield Town Hall committee voted 4-3 to grant approval.

Disabled Mrs Roper, who has a brain tumour and is often rushed to hospital in Halifax, said: “It breaks my heart. “I am frightened every time I go down the A629 with the sirens on. I think I’m not going to make it. I am a living timebomb.” Mrs Roper said 30 years ago her son and daughter had to attend separate schools because of a shortage of places and added: “Nothing has changed. “Kirklees say they are going to build a new school but it has never happened. The council didn’t listen then and hasn’t listened now.” Sue Roper, disappointed over Grimescar Valley decisionSue Roper, disappointed over Grimescar Valley decision A tearful Mrs Roper spoke passionately to the committee and said all she had to look forward to was the view out of her window. She added: “I think it’s terrible someone can come along and take that away from me.”

Protesters packed the public gallery and the meeting was tetchy at times as objectors clashed with councillors from the sidelines. Residents said the council should protect the environment and wildlife and consider adding the land to the Green Belt under the forthcoming Local Plan. However with no current plan in place, the committee was told, the council was likely to face a costly defeat at any planning inquiry.

Letter in support of Grimescar Valley development proposalLetter in support of Grimescar Valley development proposal
Holme Valley North independent councillor Terry Lyons, who proposed approval of the scheme, said the council wouldn’t have a leg to stand on at appeal and costs could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

He was backed by Labour’s Steve Hall, Graham Turner and Carole Pattison who voted in favour with Tories Donald Firth and Donna Bellamy against, along with Lib Dem Andrew Pinnock. Clr Turner told the protesters: “There have been some wonderful, eloquent speeches but no one has given us any planning reason to refuse this.” After the hearing Lewis Allen, whose wife Sarah spoke at the committee, told how the family moved up from “polluted London” and four of their five children needed inhalers.

Objectors ready to greet councillors visiting site of Grimescar Valley housing plan, Burn Road, Birchencliffe. One of their sons, aged 10 at the time, suffered breathing difficulties and needed to use a lift at school. Mr Allen said: “There are shocking levels of air pollution here. Surely Kirklees will face some liability over this in the future?”

Tory councillor Gemma Wilson said she was “disgusted” with her colleagues over the decision. She said: “There were reasons the plans could have been rejected but now we have lost Grimescar Valley forever.” Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney, who also addressed the meeting, said he also felt let down and added: “There is an emerging Local Plan and this land was destined to be taken into the Green Belt.

“It’s so disappointing. I thought the committee showed a lack of respect to local people at times when really they were respectful and restrained in the circumstances.”