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Monday, April 22, 2024

Controversy erupts as Almondbury green space yielded for housing development

Two members of the council's District-Wide Planning Committee voted against the plans

In a “tragedy” for Almondbury, green space will be lost as plans for a new housing development are given the go-ahead.

How the homes will be set out at Forest Road. Image: Kirklees Council

At the Thursday, March 21  meeting of Kirklees Council’s District-Wide Planning Committee, members approved plans for nine homes to be brought to Forest Road, Almondbury. Part of the site is allocated as Urban Green Space in the council’s Local Plan, but council officers considered the application to be an appropriate use of the land on a “fine balance”, partially due to its condition.

The meeting was the committee’s first since the council moved to a “streamlined” planning process which will see more decisions made by officers. Applications are now only determined by a committee if they are a big departure from the Local Plan, receive a large amount of public opposition, or when they are referred by a councillor.

Cllr Bernard Mcguin. Image: Kirklees Council

In this case, Cllr Bernard McGuin, had referred the plans due to numerous concerns over drainage issues, access problems and the steepness of the land.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr McGuin pleaded with the committee to turn down the application, describing it as a “tragedy” if the area were to lose Urban Green Space. He explained that the Almondbury Bank Preservation Group had carried out work to maintain neighbouring woodland, and that “any further destruction would hinder their work”.

He said: “Please, you’ve got a good reason to reject this application purely on the basis that it’s Urban Green Space. I do take the planner’s point that it might not be good value at the moment because it’s not being managed well but it could be managed better and we’ve got a group that are willing to do the work on that area because they’ve proved it in the adjoining woods.”

Seven objections had previously been submitted by members of the public who voiced similar concerns. One resident said they were “appalled by the stupidity of the plans”, while another living across from the site was especially concerned about a loss of privacy.

Cllr Alison Munro Image: Kirklees Council

Cllr Alison Munro (Almondbury Lib, Dem) who was substituting on the committee, pushed for the refusal of the application on the basis of the loss of green space and the impact this would have on local people and wildlife. She also felt that the homes would “overwhelm” the space and detract from the landscape, therefore falling short of planning policy.

Some members of the panel felt differently, with Cllr Eric Firth (Labour, Dewsbury East) describing the area as an “urban eyesore” rather than Urban Green Space and said the land is “screaming out” for development. Cllr Mohan Sokhal (Labour, Greenhead) made a similar point and said the site looks “derelict”.

Cllr Donna Bellamy. Image: Kirklees Council
Cllr Donna Bellamy (Con, Holme Valley North), acknowledged that the site needed a tidy-up but was concerned about the parking situation on the narrow road, with a “fair few” cars being parked when the committee visited the site earlier that day. She said: “I can imagine that later on in the day when people aren’t at work and everybody’s got their cars there that it could be even more constrained on that road and that is my worry.”


An officer explained that there was no room to refuse the application over highway issues as there is “sufficient” off-street parking provided as part of the application.

When it came to the vote, five members voted in favour of the development – Cllr Firth, Cllr Sokhal, Cllr Homewood (Labour, Ashbrow), Cllr McGrath (Con, Holme Valley North), Cllr Ullah (Labour, Greenhead). Councillor Munro, and Cllr Bellamy, voted against.

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