Horsforth Residents Fight to Protect Heritage of “Europe’s Largest Village”

Outwood Land, Horsforth (source:Richard Thomson)

Horsforth was once dubbed ‘Europe’s largest village’- its claim to fame may now have challengers, but, it’s still the ‘oldest urban village’ and residents want to protect that heritage. So, members of Newlay Conservation Society, Horsforth Civic Society, and Cragg Hill and Woodside Residents Group, have joined forces to fight off the dozens of inappropriate planning applications, that have been sought in the last year alone, which would alter the landscape and affect well-being.

A key starting point has been a design statement to guide future development. “It’s the community themselves who is best set to appreciate or not appreciate, what they have to live next door to” said Martin Hughes, secretary of Newlay Conservation Society and chair of Horsforth Civic Society. “It is well known that green space adds to wellbeing. Horsforth is a desirable place to live, house prices tend to reflect that, which is why developers are so keen to build here”.

Unfortunately though, the recent fight against the Clariant Mills site, between Horsforth and Calverley, has been lost at appeal; due to the inability of Leeds planners and highway experts to adequately present the facts. Now, 550 new houses will increase the misery of life on the already over capacity ‘A’ roads in the area.

The next fight is in May, with a public appeal against a developer’s bid to build a new state-of-the-art nursing home on the site of the former Victorian St Joseph’s care home: in a design totally out of keeping with the surrounding conservation area.

On top of this, in the same conservation area, there is a renewed battle to stop the building of new homes on greenbelt at Outwood Lane, which Peter Crosland, of Cragg Hill and Woodside Residents Group insists, “is an unnecessary infill development”. Campaigners won their fight 12 years ago against a scheme by Redrow Homes. The company backed off, after Leeds Council faltered over planning permission, and an appeal by Redrow to Environment Secretary, John Prescott, bore no fruit. Now, Redrow are back with new plans: two consultations have been held, with clear objections raised, but, suspiciously, the developers have refused to publish the results.

Local MP Stuart Andrew commented that: “ Horsforth is popular with developers because it manages to keep its unique identity. Local people know the area better than anyone else and are best placed for identifying how the community should evolve. We are lucky to have active resident’s groups around Outwood Lane. It is a big commitment from local people to look after an area in order to preserve what is important whilst ensuring housing needs for the future”.