MP opposes proposals for pub at ancient hill fort site

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AN MP has urged councillors to reject plans to build a pub-cum-hotel on the site of an Iron Age fort, saying that nothing should be built until after a full archaeological survey is carried out.

Brothers Mick and Barry Thandi have asked for planning permission for a pub at Castle Hill, a Scheduled Ancient Monument at Almondbury, Huddersfield.

Two previous schemes submitted by them have been turned down by Kirklees Council.

Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman has now spoken out, saying the site should remain development-free until full, high-technology surveys are carried out to find out what is beneath the surface of the soil.

He believes the site may suit an ecologically-friendly visitor centre and a cafe/bar but he is firmly opposing the pub/hotel plan.

Mr Sheerman says the site has yet to be properly studied using the latest technology available to archaeologists.

“This site could become a major attraction but building a modern edifice defies reason.

“We need a really amazing architect to create something, a structure which is sympathetic to the site.

“We could have a wonderful visitor and educational centre, with a wine bar and cafe. But here we have a plan which is a pale imitation of what we have had in the past.” He described Castle Hill as the “jewel in the crown” of the town’s heritage.

The latest application includes proposals to improve access by installing traffic lights to control access to a steep access track to the site.

There used to be a pub at the site but it was demolished and re-built in breach of planning conditions. The council took enforcement action which forced the Thandis to demolish their half-built structure.

Heritage experts have opposed previous development schemes at the site.

In October, the previous pub proposal was backed by 71 letters of support and opposed by 17, including heritage experts.

The issue has divided residents, with many in favour of building a pub but similar numbers opposing the idea.

Local Lib Dem councillor Phil Scott believes a majority want to see a pub built at the site. The deadline for comments on the plan is December 27.