Leeds & West Yorkshire

Greenbelt site in Dewsbury allowed for development

Councillors have agreed to allow up to 200 homes to be built on Church-owned greenbelt land in Dewsbury.

The Church of England bought the 180-hectare Chidswell site in August 2011. It plans to develop 35 hectares for industrial use plus 200 houses.

Local residents opposed to the plans have accused the Church of "putting profit before communities".

Kirklees Council has now given its approval for development to go ahead at the site.

Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell said he had been upset by the Church of England's apparent "indifference" to opponents of the plan.

He also said it could have a negative effect on local congregations.

Mr Reevell said: "I would like to see John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, turn round and say 'I did not realise this was been done in my name'."

Residents who campaigned against the proposals set up an action group to protest against the planned development.

Rod Lilley, who is leading the Chidswell Action Group, said: "Once that greenbelt's gone, it's gone. We're into concrete land."

'Generating income'

A spokesman for The Church Commissioners said: "We have been liaising with different representatives of the local community since buying this land [and another five sites] in August.

"We reject completely any accusation that the Commissioners 'put profit before communities', and see no ethical problem with assisting a council deliver land for new jobs and homes where they are sorely needed.

"Should those responsible decide to allocate the land in the long term for use as a business park and for housing, we would therefore support that."

Rev Amanda Baraclough, from St Mary's Church in Woodkirk, which is situated nearby to the greenbelt site, said: "Church commissioners have to generate an income to sustain cathedrals and bishops and all that makes C of E."

Kirklees Council said there was potential for up to 500 homes on the greenbelt land.

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