Mother's fears that her Yorkshire village community is being “eaten up” by urban sprawl

A young mum says she fears being pushed out of her family home by an intrusive new housing estate set to be built just 21m away.

Laura Shaw says she feels semi-rural Hanging Heaton is being turned into “a concrete jungle” by plans to turn green spaces over to housing.

She and neighbours are fighting to stop 55 homes being built on four acres of fields off High Street and Challenge Way in Hanging Heaton, which is partly in both Batley and Dewsbury.

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It is close to the massive Chidswell project, where 1,500 homes will eventually be built on a 296-acre site.

The view from Laura Shaw's garden, where plans for new homes have been submittedThe view from Laura Shaw's garden, where plans for new homes have been submitted
The view from Laura Shaw's garden, where plans for new homes have been submitted

Laura said: “It is entirely changing the landscape of where we live. This is land that has never been developed. You lose land like that at your peril. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

“It breaks my heart. It feels like we are being pushed out. I don’t to move because that’s the home we thought we would be bringing up our children in, but it’s not how I want us to live.”

Laura’s household is one of several that hired a solicitor to object on their behalf. A 23-page letter outlining those objections has gone to Kirklees Council, where planning staff have recommended the scheme for approval at a meeting next week.

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And Laura, who has lived overlooking the fields for eight years, says she hopes comments by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this week will come to pass.

The fields in Hanging HeatonThe fields in Hanging Heaton
The fields in Hanging Heaton

In his conference speech Mr Johnson appeared to indicate that brownfield sites would now become the government’s focus.

That would mean a U-turn on proposed planning reforms and a move away from greenfield sites.

She intends to speak at a meeting of the council’s Heavy Woollen Planning Committee (Oct 14).

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She will highlight a range of concerns including flooding, pollution from the nearby B6128 Challenge Way, where a belt of trees that screens the road is to be partially cut down, and privacy issues from the proximity of the new estate.

She says noise and traffic surveys were conducted during lockdown and are not representative of the “hundreds more cars” that use the B6168.

And she says a report to the committee makes no mention of flooding that regularly affects the fields – or two underground streams that flow through houses and a nearby club.

She said: “Hanging Heaton is a village community. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book and is known for being semi-rural. That’s why people live here. That village atmosphere will become urban sprawl when the land is eaten up.

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“This development adds nothing to the local community. I agree that we need houses but we need to build them in the right place, not on greenfield land.

“I hope there will be a change and that there’s a focus on brownfield sites. Unfortunately reform isn’t going to come quick enough to stop this but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Castleford-based Vistry Partnerships Yorkshire aims to build a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced homes on the land with access from Challenge Way.

A report to the committee says the proposed estate “would notably change the character and appearance of the site and wider area.

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“However, as existing, the site is considered detrimental to the visual amenity of the built environment. The proposed development is considered to be sufficiently well-designed and it would result in an attractive continuation of the residential environment.”