Leeds & West Yorkshire

'David and Goliath' battle over CoE Chidswell land plan

Chidswell Action Group at the event on Saturday Image copyright Chidswell Action Group
Image caption Campaigners came together at a community event to highlight their plight

Residents have said they are in a "David and Goliath" battle to stop land owned by the Church of England being turned into 1,500 homes.

The 296-acre former greenbelt site at Chidswell in Dewsbury is a key part of Kirklees Council's local plan.

Chidswell Action Group has claimed the church is putting "profit before principals" and urged the Archbishop of York to step in.

Church Commissioners said it was up to the council to decide on the plans.

If approved, the development would include 1,534 houses, care homes and a primary school.

Image copyright Chidswell Action Group
Image caption Campaigners said the land acts as a "green lung", separating Kirklees, Wakefield and Leeds

Mark Eastwood, from the action group, said: "This really is a David and Goliath fight.

"It's an area of beauty made up of fields full of barley and ancient woodland.

"It's a place for kids to play, for families to enjoy and it's been sacrificed for profit."

Pictures drawn by children and letters of objection were gathered at an event in Gawthorpe on Saturday and will be handed over to the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, next month.

Mr Eastwood said: "We want the Archbishop of York to intervene and support our fight."

Image copyright Chidswell Action Group
Image caption An eight-year-old girl penned this letter for the Archbishop
Image copyright Chidswell Action Group
Image caption Planning applications are expected to be submitted later this year

Retired vicar Philip Reynolds said the plans were the "wrong development in the wrong place".

The Church Commissioners said the Archbishop of York had "no say in decisions or processes concerning any particular property development or transaction".

It added the decision as to whether the scheme went ahead lies with the local authority.

In a statement, the council said the local plan had been considered by a government inspector who concluded the site should come forward for development.

The authority added that any planning application would be subject to public consultation.

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