Campaigners fighting plans for more than 400 homes on land between Farsley and Rodley are celebrating after the secretary of state REFUSED planning permission.
Developer Thornhill Estates’ plans for the Kirklees Knoll site, which were submitted in 2011, were opposed by a local campaign which argued the land – originally a greenfield site between Calverley Lane and Bagley Lane – was the last remaining green area and was a buffer between Farsley, Rodley and Bradford.
Today the Secretary of State ruled that planning permission should not be granted on Kirklees Knoll.
The decision was welcomed by Stuart Andrew MP, who highlighted to inspectors at a planning inquiry that the development would have amounted to ‘planning through the back door’. He said:
“Given that Leeds City Council’s local plan is currently in progress, to allow development on Kirklees Knoll at this point would have been planning through the back door.
“It would have ignored the views of local people and would have allowed building to begin before the results of the consultation process had been scrutinised and evaluated by planning officials.”
Mr Andrew thanked the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid for responding to the strength of feeling locally. He added:
“I would like to praise Councillors Andrew Carter, Amanda Carter, Rod Wood and the Farsley Residents’ Action Group, who have conducted complex research and have worked tirelessly to save this vital green area.
“I would also like to thank all the local residents who gave their voice to the campaign, without whom Kirklees Knoll, which improves the quality of life of so many, would have been lost.”
In issuing his decision, Mr Javid said:
“It is my judgement the adverse impacts of the planning proposal in question, especially in terms of the harm to Farsley Conservation Area, and harms to character and appearance of the surrounding area and to the landscape – including harm to the gap between Farsley and Rodley settlements – would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefit of the proposal…”
The news has been welcomed by ecstatic Farsley residents on Facebook. Gary Butler said:
“Great news – now just leave it alone, it’s beautiful.”
Cllr Andrew Carter (Cons, Calverley and Farsley) also welcomed the decision. He said:
“All the hard work in opposing the proposals to build on Kirklees Knoll has again proved worthwhile.
“Many and grateful thanks to the small band in Farsley Residents’ Action Group, who have done a terrific job to, between us, deliver this result, particularly after being so badly let down by Leeds City Council.
“We now must wait and see what the developers try next; but we are ‘on the front foot’.”
Thornhill Estates first lodged an appeal in 2012 after Leeds City Council failed to reach a decision on the plans within the allocated time frame.
Public inquiries were subsequently held into the plans before the secretary of state called in the application in 2013, as it exceeded the 150-home development limit.
The second inquiry, which dismissed the application, was challenged in the High Court by Thornhill Estates. A third and final public inquiry was held in January last year.