A COMMUNITY campaigner has successfully fought a battle forcing Wakefield Council to quash a planning application for a residential development on Hemsworth Sports Complex.
Developer Saul Construction was granted permission by the council to build 147 houses and 10 retirement apartments on the Kirkby Road complex in 2008. The land was sold to the company complete with planning permission by Hemsworth Town Council, after years of thrashing out an agreement between the two parties.
It was part of a turn-key agreement, which also saw Saul Construction build the Hemsworth Town Council Community Centre, Bullenshaw Road, and the Sandygate Football Facility.
But Jim Kenyon - who is now a member of the town council - objected to parts of the project and took the matter to the High Court on the grounds that an environmental impact assessment was not carried out before the planning permission was granted.
The court agreed this was cause for a judicial review and Wakefield Council has now agreed to quash the planning application to avoid going through the court process.
And on February 14, the court ratified the decision as part of the formal procedure.
Coun Kenyon said: “It was the developers’ responsibility to make sure an assessment was carried out and then the council’s responsibility to make sure it is done. And they didn’t.
“And now their decision to approve plans has been quashed. Wakefield Council has admitted it has unlawfully approved plans for this site without carrying out an environmental assessment. They know they have done something wrong.”
His concern was for the lack of green open space in that part of the town and he wanted more space to be retained for the use of the community.
The developer will now have to re-apply for planning permission.
Coun Kenyon said he would not object to a renewed application if a full-size pitch, junior pitch, clubhouse and changing rooms were built on the former complex site, alongside the residential development.
Coun Kenyon said: “If we came to a compromise so long as we get something back for the kids I will be happy. That’s all I want and all I have ever wanted.”
Ian Thomson, service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “Following ratification by the courts the planning permission has been quashed. The cwouncil agreed to compromise on legal costs and it has been confirmed by the courts that Mr Kenyon has secured £12,000 for his legal fees.
“Wakefield Council will now be obliged to look again at the planning application in the normal way.”