Shock at homes plan for Soothill green belt

GOODBYE GREEN BELT?: The area of green belt a developer wants Kirklees to release for development.
GOODBYE GREEN BELT?: The area of green belt a developer wants Kirklees to release for development.

A DEVELOPER is urging Kirklees Council to allow a vast swathe of Soothill’s green belt to be built on.

Dacres Commercial has handed Kirklees Council a proposal which shows how between 554 and 897 homes and 26 hectares of industry could be built off Leeds Road.

The company, which is acting on behalf of Barratt and David Wilson Homes, claims the Soothill area would be a much better place to develop than Chidswell, on the other side of Leeds Road.

It is urging Kirklees to release the green belt land, pictured, as part of its Local Development Framework, a blueprint which will shape where development is permitted until 2028.

Soothill Forum has called a meeting to discuss the shock revelation.

Forum member Mohammed Dadhiwala this week said the plan could be a disaster for the area.

The developer’s proposal is not yet public, but the News has seen a copy of the report sent by Dacres Commercial to Kirklees Council.

In it, the developer puts forward five options for building in Soothill.

The report says: “The allocation and future development of this site would bring about significant regeneration benefits to the area and assist in the regeneration of Batley.”

The plan would be a direct alternative to one set out by the Church Commissioners, the Church of England’s investment arm, which wants to see the homes and businesses built on its Windsor Park site in Chidswell.

The Church Commissioners’ plan has come up against huge opposition from local campaigners, who formed the Chidswell Action Group to fight to save the green belt.

Mark Johnson, head of planning for Dacres Commercial Planning and Land, said the idea of building in Soothill was ‘inherently more sustainable than the Chidswell green belt development option’ and the company would be presenting its case over the coming months.

Kirklees Council has already agreed to release unspecified green belt land at Chidswell to accommodate 500 homes and 35 hectares of industry.

Last year, the News revealed Kirklees considers the Chidswell area to mean either side of Leeds Road in this case, and this was again confirmed by a council spokesman this week.

But this strategy still needs to be approved by the government, and a public consultation is currently under way.

This week, Soothill Forum member Mohammed Dadhiwala said he was ‘shocked and surprised’ to hear about the developer’s suggestion for Soothill.

He said: “I’m not saying no to housing full stop but 900 homes would be a disaster for Soothill.”

A meeting of Soothill Forum is planned for Monday (October 8) at 7pm at Soothill Community Centre.

There, people will be told how they can take part in Kirklees Council’s consultation.

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