Plan to build 128 homes on site of former athletics stadium in Yorkshire

Councillors are being recommended to approve plans to build 128 homes on a former athletics stadium in Yorkshire.

The scheme on the site once occupied by Hemsworth Athletics Stadium, in West Yorkshire, has been delayed by 15 years due to legal action which ended with a Supreme Court ruling. Developer Saul Homes wants to build the properties on a 5.8 hectare site. A planning application to Wakefield Council is for a range of houses and bungalows, including 71 three-bed and 38 four-bed properties.

The council’s planning and highways committee approved the plans in principle at a meeting in October last year, but said more thought was needed over the impact it could have on the town’s infrastructure. Councillors said they were concerned that the new homes could place a strain on local schools and healthcare provision. Concerns were also raised over drainage. Officers have recommended the plans be approved.

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A report states: “It is considered that the proposed development would achieve a satisfactory layout and design which would provide a reasonable standard of housing environment for future residents whilst protecting the amenity of existing residents.

The site once occupied by Hemsworth Athletics Stadium, in West YorkshireThe site once occupied by Hemsworth Athletics Stadium, in West Yorkshire
The site once occupied by Hemsworth Athletics Stadium, in West Yorkshire

“The layout incorporates sufficient parking and would ensure the safe and free flow of traffic within the development. Overall, it is considered that the proposal meets with the relevant local and national policies and guidance.”

The original plan was submitted in January 2008. They were approved in principle by Wakefield Council in 2010 but the decision was quashed by the High Court because of the Council’s failure to carry out a screening opinion.

A screening opinion helps developers get an idea of how likely an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be needed before a formal application is submitted. In 2016, a screening opinion was subsequently carried out and the application was reconsidered and approved. The decision was quashed again by the High Court after another legal challenge.

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The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government then directed that the plan was not an EIA development. A further legal challenge was made which was dealt with at the Supreme Court in May 2021, where it was ordered that permission to appeal be refused. The planning and highways committee will consider the application at a meeting on Thursday (March 16).