Victory in 'The Battle of Priory Wood' as Pontefract homes plan rejected

Fears around congestion and the partial destruction of a small woodland area have seen off plans to build 22 new homes in Pontefract.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 1:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th July 2020, 1:06 pm

Developers had wanted to knock down up to 70 per cent of the trees in Priory Wood, located just off Wakefield Road in the town, to make way for housing.

But the idea was rejected, with a local planning committee saying it was concerned about safety on a busy junction at the heart of Pontefract, right next to where the properties would have been built.

Concerns were also raised about Japanese knotweed on the site and the potential disruption to wildlife living in the trees.

The wood contains a number of mature old trees, many of which are under protection orders.

Pontefract South councillors David Jones and Celia Loughran both spoke against the proposals at an online meeting on Thursday.

Shortly after the verdict was delivered, Coun Jones, tweeted: "The Battle of Priory Wood has been won! Coun Loughran and I were able to convince the committee that this was an inappropriate development."

Earlier, he told the planning committee: "It makes no sense to shoehorn 22 new homes into Priory with such bad access.

"This would be adding a dangerous junction to what is already a very busy stretch of road."

Coun David Jones said the plans would make the surrounding roads dangerous.

Coun Loughran said she had concerns about the environmental impact of the plans.

Speaking about the block of trees she said: " It enhances and transforms the area and creates a splendid backdrop to the Victorian townhouses at this major entrance to the town.

"If this proposal goes ahead, there will be a significant number of trees of all types chopped down.

"There will be a loss of amenity for local residents, who will see their environment change."

No-one spoke on behalf of the developers at the meeting.

Planning permission for a similar scheme was granted in 2014, but those homes were not built and the consent has now lapsed.

A council highways officer told the meeting he was confident the plan would have no "adverse impact" on traffic in the area.

But councillors on the committee voted eight to four in favour of rejecting the plans.

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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