Concerns over Heptonstall caravan site plan

Coun Janet Battye with protesters against the proposed caravan site at Heptonstall.
Coun Janet Battye with protesters against the proposed caravan site at Heptonstall.

Angry residents have hit out at controversial plans to build a 30-pitch caravan site on green belt land in Heptonstall.

The application, submitted by Westbourne Legal Services Ltd, proposes agricultural land, off Smithwell Lane, is turned into a touring caravan site, including a facilities building.

It is not the first time the plans have caused rancour in the village. Two previous planning applications were submitted in 2013 and 2014 and subsequently dimissed over concerns about harm to the green belt and the character of the area.

Welcome to Yorkshire lent its support to the last application, highlighting a site of this kind would be ideal in the wake of the Grand Depart’s legacy on the area.

But objections to the current application include the site’s impact on Hepstonstall’s picturesque landscape, an increase in traffic and the affect on drainage. Councillor Janet Battye (Lib Dem, Calder), said: “My objections to this application continue to be because I have serious concerns about the impact of putting a caravan site in a visible place on top of the horizon in this wonderful landscape and because of the number of vehicles it will draw either up Lee Wood Road which has been narrowed because of flood damage, or through the old village of Heptonstall.

“The changes in this application cause me even more concern.

“The applicant is proposing to lower the height of the fields by exacavating nearly 2 metres of subsoil, this itself could cause unintended damage to the subsoil and drainage and I believe that the countryside should not be tampered with in this way.

“The work involved in doing this could cause further damage to local roads.”

A number of comments have been left on Calderdale Council’s planning website in objection.

Sue Meniconi, of Heptonstall, wrote: “I am appalled by this application for a number of reasons.

“The main reason is the possibility of a change from a green belt to brown field site and the myriad of problems this would create.

“Both access points to the village are already busy and further traffic would cause immense damage to the cobbles and Lee Wood road. “

But Donna Suter, from Rotherham, supported the application. She wrote: “Having more caravan opportunities in Hebden Bridge can only be a plus.”

Mark Thompson, Calderdale Council’s acting director of economy and environment, said: “There have been two previous planning applications for the land off Smithwell Lane in Heptonstall for change of use from agricultural land to touring caravan site, submitted in 2013 and 2014. The second application was subsequently dismissed on appeal.

“When considering the previous applications, we took account of the benefits of the development for tourism; however it was concluded that these were outweighed by the harm to the Green Belt and the character of the area.

“These conclusions were supported by the Inspector who considered the appeal in 2015.

“The Council is now in the process of considering a third application and this will be considered on its own merits.”

Steve Holt, one of the applicants, said: “I believe Calderdale should be promoting projects like this for tourism and promoting quality accomodation.

“This will be really positive and we are trying to protect the countryside and we don’t want to cause any damage.

“Caravanners are especially friendly people who drive carefully and follow signs, no vehicles would be going through Heptonstall,” he added.