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Council plans to build sprawling estate over wild moors that inspired 'Wuthering Heights'

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Protesters from as far away as New Zealand, Russia and the USA have called for the proposed building of 150 houses across the ancient right of way to be scrapped. The rolling meadows, just outside Bradford, West Yorkshire, have been unchanged for centuries and have been protected as green belt land under modern planning rules. They form the gateway to the Brontë Way, the rugged Yorkshire landscape where the Brontë sisters played as children and later used as motivational walks for their timeless novels.

The international tourism trail was revamped only three years ago when author Michael Stewart created the Brontë Stones Walk.

The nine-mile trek from Thornton, where the Brontës were born, to the Parsonage at Haworth, is based around four iconic stones. They are inscribed with poems by singer Kate Bush, the former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Jeanette Winterson, who wrote Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, and Jackie Kay, Scotland’s poet laureate.

At present, visitors emerge from the start of the walk at Thornton cemetery into three meadows with breathtaking views of the moors that featured in Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Shirley. But under the ­proposals unveiled by Bradford Council, the area could become a huge housing development.

Mr Stewart, 50, said: “The view will be completely destroyed.

“Instead of walking across beautiful fields with unspoiled views of the valley beyond you will be walking in the shadow of walls, fences and the backs of houses.

“This will be devastating, not just for the culture of Bradford but the economy as well.”

Mr Stewart, who lives in Thornton, added: “The Brontës are our biggest literary export after Shakespeare and Dickens. They’re loved all over the world.

“What Bradford has got with the Brontës is completely unique.

“We should be doing all we can to protect and celebrate it – not obliterate it.”

The 14-acre development, part of Bradford Council’s plans to cope with a local housing shortage, would ruin the view of the valley and the settings of 13 nearby Grade II listed buildings, campaigners say.

If the plans are approved, the houses could be built within six years, according to the council.

A spokesman admitted: “Develop­­ment at this large, open green field site has the potential to adversely alter the setting of these sensitive heritage assets. A sensitive site design, which incorporates green infrastructure, will be required to mitigate impact on the Brontë Way.”



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