Huge outcry at plans to build new homes in Harle Syke

The Rev. Graham Sawyer at the site
The Rev. Graham Sawyer at the site

Furious residents are rallying against plans by Calico Homes for a new £6m. housing development in Harle Syke.

The social landlord is planning to build 66 homes in Harrison Street on the site of the historic former Primrose Mill. Calico announced it intends to build 48 two and three-bedroom houses and bungalows and 12 sheltered flats if planners give the scheme the green light.

But the proposals have caused a huge public outcry and villagers have vowed to fight tooth and nail against the development.

Calico said the development would have a “positive impact” on the area and would provide affordable housing and jobs.

But residents voiced their anger during a stormy meeting with Calico officials at Jubilee Street Community Centre.

Controversy raged in the run-up to the meeting amid claims Calico had failed to properly inform residents.

Many neighbours said they had not been told about the open discussion about the housing meeting but more than 100 people turned up to speak out.

Donna Barker, of Cornholme, said anger boiled over as Calico outlined plans for the development which will neighbour the iconic Queen Street Mill heritage site.

She said: “The meeting got quite heated. But this is how people are feeling – they are upset.

“There were supposed to be leaflets sent out letting people know about the plans – apparently 500 were sent out but there are around 5,000 people living around here and many people I know did not receive them.

“They think they can come in and bulldoze us and put houses up and we will just accept it. This is a very conservative area – you cannot just come in and drop a bombshell like this. It won’t happen. We won’t go down without a fight.”

During the discussions residents voiced concerns about the impact of the development on Harle Syke.

People spoke about potential problems with already-overflowing schools, access to the proposed development and the effect on traffic.

Mrs Barker said: “It could affect house prices. People are worried about the schools as there’s not enough room for residents who have lived here forever. People are worried about the access point to the estate along Granville Street as it is a tiny terraced road and all the extra traffic it will bring. It just does not seem feasible to stick 66 houses there. I think they are just being greedy and totally unrealistic. They just want to come and bulldoze through the village and completely ruin it for their own ends.”

But Harle Syke residents are already staging a fight back and have issued a call to arms for anyone with concerns.

A meeting of residents was to be held at Briercliffe Community Centre last night to develop an action plan.

The Rev. Graham Sawyer, vicar of St James’ Church, has written to Calico officials criticising the “disastrous” way it had conducted the consultation.

“You have brought great distress to many people in this area in a very short time. Calico seems to me and many in this parish simply not to care about its potential negative impact on this area as evidenced in your organisation of the recent public meeting and the attitude of your employees.

“As a result of meeting Claire Morris on May 30th and your public meeting on June 13th it is very clear to me and many others here that Calico is going to proceed with this development regardless of what local people say.

“There is something rather cruel and destructive currently being proposed by Calico in Harle Syke: your very brief engagement with this community has been utterly disastrous and deeply upsetting to many.”

Calico’s Ed Barber said: “The development will have a positive impact on the area, will provide essential affordable housing for local people and create a number of new jobs in the community.

“We’re looking forward to engaging residents in the development process. It’s important they are involved and able to influence crucial decisions that will affect them.”