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'Homes bid could wreck Bronte tourism'
One of the world’s most famous literary societies has warned that plans for up to 320 homes on greenfield land in Bronte country could undermine the area’s heritage tourism.
Bradford businessman Perves Abbas has revealed plans to build 120 homes on grazing land at Weavers Hill, Haworth – and said that if the first phase was a success he would apply to build 200 more houses.
However, Christine Went, heritage and conservation officer for the Bronte Society, which draws its membership from across the world, said the development would be “disturbingly close” to the moorland which inspired the Bronte sisters.
It is next to a lane to Oxenhope known as “Charlotte’s Path” after Jane Eyre author Charlotte Bronte and is where she and her future husband, Arthur Bell Nicholls, held clandestine meetings before they were married.
In a posting on the Bronte Blog website, Mrs Went said: “Large numbers of new houses in this part of the village would have an extremely detrimental effect on its setting and would bring inappropriate development disturbingly close to the moorland fringes.
“The local economy is founded on heritage tourism. Anything which may undermine that economy must be examined closely and, if necessary, strongly rejected.”
She said the development was one field away from Dimples Lane, the boundary with Haworth’s famous moorland. “It is way too close,” said Mrs Went. “The last thing people visiting come to see is new houses.”
Mr Abbas said he would be submitting an application for the first phase of 120 homes to planners at Bradford Council soon.
He said that, if permission is agreed, his company would provide £500,000 towards schools, recreation areas and infrastructure in the area, as well as providing affordable homes.
Mr Abbas said any new houses would be “sensitive”.
He said: “We have already taken into consideration how it should look. There are already houses on Weavers Hill and this will complement those houses.”
In 2008 Mr Abbas was behind a plan for a 65-bed hotel and apartments on the same site but that met with opposition.
The plans have also sparked concern from villagers, Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council, and Bradford Council’s Worth Valley councillors.
A Twitter account – @SaveHaworth – has also been set up to rally opposition.