Praise after housing plan is rejected

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Protesters who argued against development at West Ardsley Reservoir have been praised for their efforts after plans to build 10 houses on the land were rejected.

The proposals are now expected to go before a public inquiry, but last week’s decision is being viewed as a signficant victory for the local community around the site, who rallied against the potential housebuilding.

At a hearing at Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday afternoon, Plans Panel committee members were unconvinced at the arguments for development presented by Stonebridge Homes and Keyland Development.

They had earlier been greeted by a crowd of around 50 protesters who opposed the plans as they observed the site on Haigh Moor Road, which is owned by Yorkshire Water.

Coun Robert Finnigan who sat on the committee praised the protesters and said that the decision had been a unanimous one: “The crowd that turned out were very respectful and had a positive impact on the panel when they visited.

“They were very reasonable and good-humoured about the whole situation. There was no shouting or swearing or pushing and shoving - it was all very good-natured and I would like to thank them for that.

“The applicants were asked by the panel how they would help address concerns about infrastructure and the number of school places this would impact on and they had absolutely nothing to offer on that.”

Many of the protesters said that the planning process has gone on too long and has lacked transparency.

Frustration was also vented at the number of amendments to the application that had been made since the first proposals were tabled in 2013, and the possibility of coal mining at the site.

Mary Chadwick, who lives in East Ardsley, said: “The developers have been allowed to amend the application and appeal time and time again. If a homeowner wants to build a house extension, it’s one application an appeal and then that’s it.

“The developers shouldn’t be treated any differently. Families come from all over to walk round here and the schools here are oversubscribed.”

Michael Clarke, who lives on Haigh Moor Road said: “I’ve been here 39 years and it’s been continuous building every four or five years. When will it end?”

Following the decision, Coun Lisa Mulherin (Ardsley and Robin Hood) said: “We’re delighted with the decision. It’s not the end of the journey yet but this is an important milestone.

“There was a great turnout on Haigh Moor Road and at the meeting and I’m sure that and the strength of feeling made a big difference.”