Victory for residents fighting to save ‘last piece of green belt’

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CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating victory in their fight to save what they say is the last piece of green belt land close to Wakefield city centre.

Members of Wakefield council’s planning and highway’s committee this morning (Friday July 11) rejected plans for a new three-quarter-mile long access road and a proposed development of 68 homes in the Newton Hill area of Wakefield.

Planning officers had recommended the access road and housing development plans for approval.

The proposed road was planned on a green public footpath, which runs between the rear of houses on Hatfield View and agricultural land off Oucthorpe Lane.

Developer Miller Homes was seeking permission to build an access road to a proposed housing development in a field close to Pinderfields and Fieldhead hospitals.

Planning board member Coun David Hopkins (Conservative/Wakefield South) told the meeting: “The access as proposed is unacceptable because it goes through green belt land.

“Also, there are alternative accesses that could be deliverable that don’t encroach on the green belt.”

Members also expressed concerns over traffic noise and drainage at the proposed housing development.

A total of 98 letters of objection had been lodged, with many residents concerned about road safety at the proposed new junction with Ouchthorpe Lane.

Committee members said they were minded to refuse the application for the access road and housing development.

The reasons for refusal will be heard at a future meeting of Wakefield Council’s planning and highway’s committee.

Mark Fudge, spokesman for the Friends of Newton Hill, told the meeting: “This green belt field is the last remaining in WF1 and should be preserved.”

He said after the meeting: “We are delighted that the greenbelt has been saved and a dangerous junction on Ouchthorpe Lane has been avoided.”

Coun Matthew Morley (Labour/Stanley and Outwood East) told the meeting he and fellow ward councillors Coun Clive Hudson and Coun Jacqueline Williams, “strongly opposed” the application.

Coun Morley said: “It is the last remaining green belt land, once it has gone it has gone. You can never turn the clock back and get it back again. Myself and my two fellow councillors are totally opposed to this application.”

More than a dozen members of the Friends of Newton Hill staged a demonstration at the site earlier this week to coincide with a site visit by members of the planning committee.

A new public right of way would have been created next to the new road.

A report to the planning meeting stated: “The proposed route through the green belt has been determined as the most viable to deliver the housing allocation. It is acknowledged that significant objection has ben raised to the principle of the route through the green belt, however it is considered that the visual impact would be mitigated to within acceptable limits.”

The meeting heard the developer had explored all other options of accessing the proposed development and none were currently viable.

Councillors were told the government changed planning rules in 2012 to allow local infrastructure projects to be built on green belt land.

David Rolinson for planning consultants Spawforth Associates, who are acting on behalf of Miller Homes, told the meeting: “Practically, what this development does is to have an impact on green belt. But it is appropriate development.”

A spokesperson for Miller Homes said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of this morning’s meeting and are currently taking time to consider our position.”

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