Posted by: dianesims | August 21, 2017

The 30 year fight to save Newsome Mill Ponds

Newsome Mill Ponds

On Thursday 17th August 2017, Kirklees Council were informed that the Planning Inspectorate have overturned their previous planning decision about Newsome Mill Ponds and the land at Hart Street. This means that the leaseholders now have Outline planning permission for 22 houses on the site.

If this development goes ahead, it will destroy the oldest surviving part of Newsome Mills, and take Newsome’s green heart with it.


About the planning appeal

In January 2017, Kirklees Council’s Huddersfield Planning Committee (who are a group of councillors from all the political parties on the council) voted unanimously to refuse planning permission for the land at Hart Street. They made it clear that they take the concerns of residents seriously, and that they believe this site is not suitable for the proposed development. They commented on the amenity value and heritage value of the site. The leaseholders, Benjamin Bentley, then made an appeal against Kirklees Council’s decision. The Planning Inspectorate have now decided to uphold that appeal.

The inspector has acknowledged that “the proposed development would cause harm to the character and appearance of the area” and that this is a valuable open space for nearby residents. He also noted that the outline plan does not “demonstrate that the proposed quantity of development could be accommodated within the confines of the site given the constraint created by the protected trees.” It’s unclear how many units of affordable housing could be secured as a proportion of the planned housing, but it is the potential social value of affordable housing that has swayed the inspector’s decision.

In 2009, the Planning Inspectorate turned down an appeal for a very similar proposal from Benjamin Bentley and Partners. At the time, they said the plans would have a significant impact on our area, and should not be approved. The only material difference between then and now is that Kirklees Council don’t currently have an up-to-date planning policy framework.

Appeal Decision (PDF) 

read this to see the inspector’s evaluation in full

Planning application 2016/91479

see the ‘Appeals’ section for more letters about the appeal


About our local planning policies

The new Kirklees Local Plan (which shows how land across Kirklees will be used for housing and jobs in the future), was submitted to the Government in April 2017, but at the time of writing is still going through the process of being assessed. Because the Local Plan hasn’t been approved, the inspector says that Kirklees Council cannot demonstrate that we have made enough land available in Kirklees for a five year supply of new housing. In the draft Kirklees Local Plan, the land at Hart Street is not allocated for housing.

In our Neighbourhood Plan (a more local planning policy), which is being put together by Newsome Ward Community Forum, the land at Hart Street is specified as a site that should be retained as open space. In every local consultation about this land in recent years, there has been a clear consensus that the people who live here would like to see our mill ponds retained. Not everyone in Newsome agrees with that, but the evidence shows that it is what most people who live nearby want, which is one of the reasons why we have actively campaigned to protect our mill ponds for the past decade.


What happens next?

The leaseholders have “Outline” permission only. Work cannot start on site until a number of conditions have been met. The leaseholder or the developer will need to submit a “Reserved matters” planning application, including full details of the layout, type of houses, how the site will be drained, how the protected trees will be retained and much more.

The inspector has specified that there must be provision of affordable housing and that public open space must be included in the plans (which may affect the financial viability of any scheme). All of the inspector’s conditions must be agreed with Kirklees Council within 3 years. If any of the conditions are not met, or if the plans are changed considerably from the original outline, a new planning application will be needed.


Our press statement about the appeal decision

“This is simply the wrong decision for Newsome. We know it will leave nearby residents fearful about the impact that disrupting a 200 year old network of water courses could have on their homes. These are the same families who were most badly affected by the terrible fire at Newsome Mill in November 2016. On that night, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service used the water from both mill ponds to bring the fire under control and stop it from spreading to nearby homes and businesses.

“It’s understandable that many of the people who live here will be devastated by this latest blow to the Newsome Mills site. Our community has protected these mill ponds for over 30 years. They have become a peaceful wildlife habitat that has given people much solace. The ponds are part of the identity of Newsome, a community that has already lost so much in the past year.

“We will do everything we can to stop more of the places that are valuable to our community from being destroyed. In every local consultation about this site in recent years, there has been a clear consensus that the people who live here would like to see these mill ponds retained. We will continue to listen to what our neighbours tell us, and we’d like to thank our Newsome ward councillors and the Huddersfield Planning Committee for their support.”


Timeline of planning cases on the land at Hart Street

1985 – Outline application for residential development withdrawn

1995 – Outline application for retail development withdrawn

2007 – Application for 24 dwellings and 8 apartments refused

2008 – Application for 28 dwellings refused

2009 – Planning appeal refused

2016 – Outline application for 22 dwellings refused

2017 – Planning appeal upheld


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