A flock of ducks and some fish caused a delay to plans to build new homes on a former mill pond in Newsome.

Developers Urban Group (York) Ltd has secured the contract to build 22 affordable homes on the former mill ponds, off Newsome Road and Hart Street, close to the former Newsome Mills.

The ponds have been drained and filled in but the project proved “challenging”, according to the developers, after the ducks flew in and settled down – and some fish found their way back into the water.

Urban Group has been appointed by Yorkshire Housing to build the homes and Rick Long, head of housing construction at Urban Group, said: “The initial phase of the development has proved to be challenging.

“Prior to commencing works on site, a flock of ducks had taken up residence on the former mill ponds, and a small number of fish had also found their way into the ponds.

“The ducks were given time to leave the ponds of their own volition, whilst the fish were humanely re-located prior to the ponds being drained.

“We worked closely with Yorkshire Housing and architects, Brewster Bye, during the planning process and look forward to delivering a successful and high-quality development which will help to address the shortage of affordable housing within easy reach of Huddersfield town centre.”

The scheme comprises a mix of two and three-bed semi-detached affordable homes and is due to be completed in spring 2024.

Local residents had fought for 30 years to protect the 19th century ponds from developers and planners rejected three separate attempts to build on the site between 2007 and 2017. The latest plans were approved in 2021.

Developers say new homes are desperately needed and Anthony Askew, development manager at Yorkshire Housing, said: “When complete, this site will provide over 20 families with high-quality affordable homes and brings us closer towards our plans of delivering 8,000 new homes over the next few years.”

Dewsbury-based Connect Housing also has plans to build “affordable” homes nearby on the site of the former Newsome Mills.

The site has been derelict since the remains of the historic listed building were destroyed by fire in 2016. Only the clocktower remained standing.