Opposition mounts to plans for hotel at ancient fort site

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PLANS for a hotel-cum-pub at a West Yorkshire beauty spot ought to be rejected on the grounds that the site is a protected monument within the green belt, according to a conservation body.

Huddersfield Civic Society is submitting a list of objections to proposals for a pub with rooms at Castle Hill, Huddersfield, which is the site of an Iron Age hill fort.

Society chairman Chris Marsden urged people to contact Kirklees Council planning department with their views on the scheme.

He believes a hotel would 
damage what he calls “Huddersfield’s most famous landmark” and have an adverse impact 
on the only building at the site, 
the Grade II listed Victoria 
Tower.

“The whole of Castle Hill is in the green belt and is an Scheduled Ancient Monument protected under the 1979 Act,” he said.

“The proposed hotel would damage the visual and archaeological integrity of the monument.”

Mr Marsden said building an hotel would also “destroy the tranquillity” needed for the hill’s nature reserve to thrive.

Supporters of the scheme have pointed out that the hill attracts many visitors but there are no facilities for them.

Mr Marsden counters this argument, saying: “The arguments against granting permission for a pub are overwhelming and should not be outweighed by a sentimental idea that it would be nice to have it to drop into on a nice day.”

The Civic Society has objected to two previous applications for a pub and hotel at Castle Hill, both of which were turned down by councillors.

The latest scheme also proposes a traffic light system to control access to a narrow, steep track to the hilltop.

Mr Marsden believes that traffic lights would be an “aesthetic disaster”.

To date the council has received 25 letters, 16 against the scheme and nine in favour.

Objectors include English Heritage, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and Huddersfield Archaeological Society.

The previous application to build a pub at the site was rejected by just one vote.

Documents submitted by the applicant, The Thandi Partnership, state that one of the main benefits of the scheme is that “it involves minimal physical intervention and hence risk to the archaeology of the site”.

A letter from the developer’s architect says that highway safety has been addressed, adding: “The applicant believes that highways safety, if properly addressed, may remove objection to the scheme sufficient to convince members of the greater benefits to Kirklees that the application would bring.”

The site did previously have a pub but this was demolished and re-built.

A breach of planning conditions led to enforcement action by the council and the structure had to be taken down.

The closing date for comments is January 4.