Nets to 'tower over' Yorkshire village if new homes are built next to rural cricket pitch

A housing estate is to be built next to a rural cricket pitch in defiance of locals who say 59ft-high safety netting will “tower over” homes and be an “overbearing and dangerous eyesore”.

Members of Kirklees Council’s Heavy Woollen Planning Sub-Committee (June 23) voted 7-5 in favour of Barratt Homes building 41 homes on fields off Green Acres Close in Emley despite claims that the site is to be sold on to another developer.

Local people also sought reassurance over who would be responsible in future for the maintenance and repair of the “extremely high” ball strike nets next to Emley Moor Miners’ Recreation Ground, which one man said would be seen “towering above the whole village” and which would be “twice the height” of the new houses.

One woman said: “We are aware that Barratt are selling this site. Tenders for purchase of land are to be submitted by developers by the end of June. This is very concerning for the village. There is no guarantee a smaller developer will have the necessary finance to correctly plan, build, and take on such an expensive, long-term commitment.”

Frank Spivey (left) and Mike Wood at the Emley Moor Miners’ Recreation Ground, which needs a high safety net to protect houses earmarked for a neighbouring field. (Image: LDRS)

Speaking in support of the scheme York-based planning consultant Paul Butler said the safety netting – a requirement by Sport England – would be “lightweight in nature” and “will be maintained by the developer. They won’t be able to build the houses unless they maintain it.”

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Council planning officers at the meeting confirmed that a requirement to manage and maintain the nets in future was a condition of the plan, and that it stayed with the site via a management plan. They said the council could take enforcement action in future if the safety of the netting became a factor.

Local campaigner Mike Wood, a trustee for the recreation ground, said he and other objectors were “obviously disappointed with the general outcome” but that the decision was “a closer run thing than we first thought.”

He added: “We will have to see whether Barratt continue as the site developer or if they sell it as rumoured. Whoever the developer is to be we will be watching that between them, Kirklees and our community, all conditions discussed today are properly formatted and then discharged as required.”

He thanked “all who have and continue to help” support residents and trustees such as himself but particularly local councillor Tim Bamford (Con, Denby Dale) “who has fought our corner throughout.”