Ancient woodland around Robin Hood's reputed grave saved as £69m road scheme shelved

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A massive bypass scheme for Cooper Bridge near Brighouse has gone “back to the drawing board” after council chiefs admitted chopping down ancient woodland was “unacceptable”.

The revelation comes almost two years after Kirklees Council unveiled three options for what it dubbed the A62/A644 (Wakefield Road) Link Road.

The £69.2m project, conceived as a congestion-buster, involved the creation of a new relief road and viaduct from Bradley to the A644 Wakefield Road, plus a new roundabout.

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The council said some homes would be purchased and demolished, and some “virgin” land would be bought up. Woodland bordering the A644 Wakefield Road contains the reputed grave of medieval outlaw Robin Hood.

Cooper Bridge near BrighouseCooper Bridge near Brighouse
Cooper Bridge near Brighouse

The project was scheduled for completion in 2023.

However that plan has now been dumped, with senior councillor Peter McBride commenting: “We learned that we were going to have to knock down half a wood.”

He added: “We decided – at least at my instigation – that we would not do that because the loss of trees was just unacceptable. Therefore it was back to the drawing board. That is where we currently are.”

Councillor McBride (Lab, Dalton) responded after being challenged by Clr Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) at a meeting of the council’s decision-making Cabinet (Oct 20).

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Coun Bolt said the bypass scheme had been changed three times but that “we don’t know the cost, we don’t know the difference, and we don’t know the alignment of the route.”

Coun McBride added: “Initially we were talking about a big roundabout at Cooper Bridge, which is not the scheme that we’re now going forward with.

“This is another challenge: how do we fit in all those things that we want and at the same time kick back on a scheme that really is not acceptable? And so currently we are looking at an alternative way of achieving the same objective.

“This is a long-term scheme. It is not going to come to fruition for quite some time. So the planning of it is still being worked on.”

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He said the council “has been kept fully informed all the way through” over why alternative schemes had been rejected.

Speaking after the meeting Coun Bolt said the council faced serious questions over how it had engaged with residents and businesses potentially affected by the bypass scheme.

And he called on the council to reveal how much had been spent on the project to date.