Residents in fight against 'council estate' plans on their doorstep

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Plans to build a ‘council estate’ on the doorsteps of a privately-owned street is “filling people with dread”, according to campaigners opposing the project.

Wakefield District Housing (WDH) and Caddick Construction are wanting to build 43 ‘affordable’ homes on the vacant land on Sowgate Lane in Knottingley at a cost of £6.4 million.

While 13 of the homes are earmarked for shared ownership, the remaining 30 will be affordable rented housing, which has left many on the street worried.

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Laura Smith, who has lived the street for four years and recently set up the Friends of Sowgate Lane group on Facebook, said: “We don’t want to come across as being snobs, but all the houses here are privately owned and sought after.

Residents are opposing the number of 'affordable' rented properties planned.Residents are opposing the number of 'affordable' rented properties planned.
Residents are opposing the number of 'affordable' rented properties planned.

“It feels like they are building a council estate and it’s filling people with dread.”

More than 30 objections have been lodged against the plans so far with a catalogue of concerns, including the layout and access planned via Sowgate lane and the nearby A1 Business Park.

But the biggest fears stems from the types of tenants the scheme could attract, with the lane already often used by unlicensed motorcycle riders as well as issues with drug dealing.

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“It’s the perception of affordable housing,” added Mrs Smith.

The land is earmarked for development.The land is earmarked for development.
The land is earmarked for development.

“The reality is that it probably won’t be like that but it’s frustrating.

“When the consultation took place last year we were not told about the affordable rented homes.

“Realistically, we’d like the ratio to have more shared ownership but I’m not hopeful.

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“There’s zero thought for people living here and its frustrating that we have no say.”

Sue Young, Wakefield District Housing’s executive director of investment said in response to the growing concerns: “We are aware of the reservations that have been raised by some local residents about the planned development on Sowgate Lane.

“We are working with the concerned parties, land owner and planning officers to see if we are able address the issues and move forward with this development.

“We are keen to ensure good-quality housing is provided for those who need it across the district.”

A decision on the planning application will be made by Wakefield Council at a future date.