Boston Spa fury as Church Fields homes get green light

wet. Church Fields in Boston Spa. 090507GS1c.
wet. Church Fields in Boston Spa. 090507GS1c.

Residents of Boston Spa have reacted with anger and disbelief after a controversial plan to build more than 150 homes on a greenfield site was given the go-ahead.

The decision to build houses on the Church Fields site has been met with fury by villagers.

Almost a quarter of the village population - 800 people- had objected to the plan.

MP Alec Shelbrooke has slammed the verdict, calling it ‘unfair’ and the leader of Boston Spa Parish Council says he is “devastated” by the news.

Builders Taylor Wimpey have won their appeal to build houses on the Church Fields site in the centre of Boston Spa . The decision was made on Tuesday by independent planning inspector Chris Gessop.

Many residents had voiced their concerns about the impact of increasing traffic and the pressure on local services in the village - such as schools and medical surgeries . They also said they fear environmental damage.

On hearing the news, local Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke spoke exclusively to the Wetherby News.

He said: “I am exceptionally disappointed with the inspector’s decision, especially in light of the hard work put into the campaign by residents, Wetherby Ward Councillors and myself. It really does feel as if our views were not taken into consideration at all. This highlights precisely why we need the new Localism Bill in place so that we can scrap the bureaucratic planning process of the previous Government which has led to this unfair verdict on Church Fields.”

David Thomson, the leader of Boston Spa Parish Council, said: “I am devastated about this news, it will destroy the village here and have a massive impact. I am very unhappy that this decision has been taken, it seems as though the developers have gone totally against the concerns of the local community here. It will have a devastating affect on the schools which will struggle to meet the demand and parking is also a concern as this development is right in the centre of Boston Spa.”

The site, which is designated as greenfield, has been an ongoing issue for two years.

On appeal Taylor Wimpey argued there was enough brownfield land available in Leeds to meet the house quota . The quota is set by the government, and the current target is 150,000 new houses to be built over the next four years.

Conservative ward councillor, Gerald Wilkinson, said: “I am absolutely gutted that this has happened and I believe it will destroy Boston Spa as a village and a community. It will have a detrimental affect on the lives of people here. I am not looking forward to it.”

Two applications have been made by developer Taylor Wimpey since 2009- which were for 170 and 153 homes respectively - on the Church Fields site . Both were refused by Leeds City Coucnil last year. The appeal decision will now allow Taylor Wimpy to build from either application.

Boston Spa resident and church warden David Coates said: “I think this will be disastrous. It will rip out the character of the village. One of many concerns I have is traffic and congestion through the High Street, as well as the pressure on local services like schools and doctor’s surgeries.”

However some residents felt the village would benefit from the new development. Brian Aston, who has lived in the village for 40 years, thinks the village needs “vibrancy”.

He said: “Boston Spa is not the same as it was 60 years ago. I think this will be a good thing for Boston Spa . It will add more life to the town and it will attract businesses to the shops and more young people in the area.”

Leeds City Council has previously stated its preference for brownfield sites- often industrial land- to be developed before greenfield sites to protect the environment.

A spokesperson for Taylor Wimpey said: “The housing needs for the Leeds area are currently not being met. There is significant local requirement for both market and affordable housing and we believe that this development will go some way to help improve this situation. We have given great consideration to the site’s unique location including its history, character and appearance and we are confident they will be preserved and enhanced by the design and form of the development.”