Ah, the Yorkshire moors of Wuthering Heights. Windy, winding, dangerous, dark, and oh so very moody. (Just like Heathcliff’s soul! Argh!) Or at least they used to be. Now the landscape that inspired Emily Brontë’s classic romance is a common destination for fans who come to walk along the Brontë Way and think about their own wretched love lives and literary aspirations. Or their next pint, depending.
The views, by all accounts, are gorgeous, but after remaining untouched for centuries, they may soon be drastically altered. The local council has selected the moors as the site for a new housing estate, which would be a mixture of council and private housing and would amount to 150 new homes.
“The view will be completely destroyed,” Brontë scholar Michael Stewart told The Sydney Morning Herald. “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.”
“It is very odd because there are council signs everywhere saying ‘Bronte Country’, so even entertaining the idea does not make any sense,” he continued. “This will be devastating not just for the culture of Bradford but the economy as well.”
“What Bradford has got with the Brontë is completely unique. We should be doing all we can to protect and celebrate it—not obliterate it.”
According to the planning documents, the council is not insensitive to the preservation of
literary legend natural beauty tourist dollars. “The Brontë Way, which is a draw for tourists and has high cultural significance, passes through the centre of this space. A sensitive site design which incorporates green infrastructure will be required to mitigate any impact on the Brontë Way, green infrastructure corridor and the wider landscape.”
Okay, but I thought the whole point was that you couldn’t build on the moors! Too many sinkholes and mounds and ghosts and stuff, right? Besides, it’s sort of a bleak destination. As Lockwood puts it in his very first journal entry: “In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.” Maybe these new houses will simply sink into the moors, never to be seen again. Hopefully before anyone moves into them, though.