New homes will be built on fields

Benton fields off Wakefield Road, Horbury. Developers are wanting to use the area for new housing.'w317c337
Benton fields off Wakefield Road, Horbury. Developers are wanting to use the area for new housing.'w317c337

The ‘last green fields in Horbury’ will be destroyed to make way for 24 homes after planning permission was granted yesterday.

Fears over road safety, air quality and oversubscribed schools and surgeries were not enough to persuade Wakefield Council’s planning committee to turn down the homes, on land off Benton Hill.

And Spawforth’s, who drew up the plans on behalf of landowner Richard Donner, were given the go-ahead after councillors voted marginally in their favour.

Coun Jack Hemingway said residents had “serious concerns” about the plans.

He said: “Schools are already oversubscribed and doctors and dentist surgeries are full, with considerable waiting lists. This area has been a police priority many times before because of speeding, and this development would exacerbate traffic problems.”

The land was allocated in the Local Development Framework (LDF) for up to 65 homes, and campaigners are worried that this application is just the beginning of further ‘desecration’ of the fields.

Planning officers told the meeting they were expecting future applications, but said the target of 65 would never be reached because of the way these houses would be spaced.

Coun David Hopkins said loss of the fields, which were taken out of the green belt when the LDF was signed off last year, was “a step too far”.

And Coun Laurence Kirkpatrick asked if the developers could be asked to contribute towards the costs of extra school places.

But officers said the number of houses proposed was one below the number that would have triggered a request for contributions.

And Coun Jean Askew said: “Why are we not surprised to hear that? Once again, because development of this land will take place over several stages the number of houses has dropped under the radar.

“But regardless of our reservations, it’s really difficult to justify opposing something that was passed through council as part of the LDF.”

Campaigners’ calls for a liaison committee to be set up between the developers and the community was refused.

Miranda Berry said consultation on the LDF had been inadequate, and that the developers had not consulted with local community groups.

She added: “We’re extremely disappointed. Members asked pertinent questions which clearly demonstrated that they understood elements of the application are severely flawed.”