Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189

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Roadway built over Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 169

Last Friday 13th October 2017 the planning applications for Bartin and Greave farmsteads were refused by the peak park planning committee at Bakewell. One of the concerns discussed by the committee was the access which is entirely along Holmfirth bridleways 68 & 169 and the negative effects the increased traffic would have on the recreational users of the bridleways. The committee were also very concerned about the potential negative effects of the developments on the wider unspoilt surrounding landscape.

This week the bridleways have been regraded and resurfaced with what appears to be a dry concrete mix(update from Kirklees who took a sample of the material – it isn’t concrete although it has that colour/appearance) over large areas of the 2km length. This work has ruined what was an unspoilt and unchanged sandstone surfaced bridleway. It has created a visible scar in the landscape which the planning committee were so conscious to protect last Friday. Clearly the intention is to create a roadway into Bartin & Greave but who would do such a thing?

I have asked Yorkshire Water Estates if they have any information as to who has carried out the works,whether it has planning permission or permission from the highway authority, Kirklees Council and await their reply.

In the meantime enjoy some more images of this wonderful piece of work in our oldest national park.

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How it looked

Here are the bridleways

Kirklees Play Strategy

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Closing down. Everything must go.

In the latest round of cuts our council has been given the particularly tricky turd of closing children’s playgrounds across Kirklees to put a shine on. That’s a tall order but the Council’s Play Strategy Report  does a  job Mr Sheen would be proud of.

Amongst other things it outlines how Kirklees has far more play areas when compared to neighbouring authorities (something that’s never been an issue in the past & surely a good thing?), how taking your toddlers to the swings isn’t really as good for them as opportunities to”play beyond enclosed areas” ( what? ) and of course beneath the turd polishing the truth that the council needs to sack staff who inspect and maintain play areas, shut the swings and seesaws to replace them with “wildplay” and volunteers from the “Friends of everything the council used to do” groups. There’s even a suggestion in this report that public rights of way might be used for “wild play” which I think might be a little bit too wild. Poor little mites would run the risk of being built over or blocked in by barbed wire and caravans.

When my kids were little going to the swings on a Saturday morning was an integral part of family life. Contrary to what is said in this report it is not a sterile experience on outdated equipment. Thankfully kids have something that bureaucrats have removed when they sign up – an imagination. So that swing or seesaw is a rocket, a boat, a horse or pretty much anything on any given visit. The whole playground world is not as it seems when you’re a child. That rusty metal work and soggy bark are a fantasy world of play and discovery.The hooped fencing so maligned in the report keeps the the dogs out so parents don’t need to polish those particular turds at home.

Thinking back to  our many family visits to Victoria Park and Sands in Holmfirth along with dozens of other random swings and seesaws throughout the UK I could never have foreseen a time when any local council would be proposing closure of such facilities. Yet here I am in 2017 reading a report suggesting just this. The galling thing is that anyone would want to put any kind of turd polish on such a piss poor proposal. But there you go, that’s what elected members and senior council management think is an appropriate presentation of such an idea. It’s the classic “shit sandwich” approach of hiding something very unpalatable amongst bureaucratic smiles and big words.

So kids, parents and grandparents make the most of those last few trips to the swings. Store up the memories of happy, childhood  play at the parks and playgrounds of Kirklees.

Soon they’ll be gone and you’ll  be invited to play beyond these “enclosed areas” in a “wild play” puddle sponsored by Toys R Us or on a water filled tyre down some overgrown footpath kindly supplied by Kwik Fit. Terms & conditions apply. Puddles are subject to availability. Tyres only available in black.

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Close the gate on your way out kids. Ops you can’t ‘cos someone’s nicked it and we won’t replace it.

 

Holmfirth Footpath 31 Robinson Lane & Miller Homes

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Holmfirth Footpath 31 Robinson Lane. Proposal for road to 134 houses to be built over the lane.

Planning application 2017/60/93326/W is the twin of this brute which proposes to confine the lovely cross field path  of Holmfirth 31 between gardens retaining walls and beneath a tunnel to allow the construction of 72 houses.

The second application is for a further 62 houses on two further fields adjacent to the walled lane section of Holmfirth 31(Robinson Lane). The application proposes to build the adopted estate road for these 134 houses across Holmfirth Footpath 31(Robinson Lane). So what is now an historic,characterful,peaceful and traffic free lane will be crossed by a road carrying every car,delivery and service vehicle etc into an estate of 134 houses.

The application lacks any detail as to how this crossing point will be constructed and how Footpath 31(Robinson Lane) will be accommodated at this point. Nor is there any detail as to how both legs of footpath 31 will be treated during the construction phase. In fact there is very little said in the application beyond –

“A public right of way (footpath) runs through the Western field diagonally to link
Woodhead Road with Robinson Lane, this route along with Robinson Lane is to be
accommodated and retained as part of the proposals (Kirklees ref Hol131/40).”

“Accommodated” simply means both legs of Footpath 31 will be changed to fit the development and whilst the public will still be able to pass from A to B when the development is complete all the rural character and amenity value will disappear. Gone will be the green cross field footpath where you might walk a dog or have a picnic. Gone will be the historic and characterful  Robinson Lane. Both replaced by something much less appealing and user friendly.

The application proposes that the estate road joins Woodhead Road close to where Holmfirth Footpath 31 (Robinson Lane) also joins Woodhead Road. There is no consideration in the application as to how this additional hazard in terms of increased traffic and turning/exiting vehicles is to be mitigated for pedestrians exiting Footpath 31 and crossing Woodhead Road at this point. It is simply ignored.

I believe there are grounds for a reasonable objection to the application in relation to a lack of detail in considering  how Holmfirth Footpath 31(Robinson Lane) is treated, both in regards to the estate road being built over it and  in terms of an increased hazard to pedestrians caused by the new junction on Woodhead Road .

There is no need to cut Holmfirth Footpath 31(Robinson Lane) in two with an estate road. This roadway should be put beneath the public footpath to retain the path’s it traffic free condition and save some of the it’s rural and historic character.

A pedestrian crossing is required where the path joins Woodhead Road to allow safe passage for pedestrians over this busy road and new hazardous junction.

Comments are open on the application until 25th October 2017.

 

 

Updates

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I’ve had confirmation this week that Friday the 13th October 2017 is the date for the Bartin & Greaves Planning Applications to go before the Peak Park Planning Committee in Bakewell. Also received a request from the peak park planners to use some of my photographs in their presentation to the committee which illustrate the unspoilt isolation of Bartin & Greave.

As mentioned previously if you have commented on the applications you can speak at the meeting. Details of what to do here

On another planning issue the application mentioned here to replace a set of illegal gates on a Huddersfield path with some big shiny new illegal gates has been withdrawn. A step in the right direction.

On the issue of gates on public footpaths the law is very clear. Any gate can only be authorised under Section 147 of the Highways Act 1980  for agricultural purposes or some other identified statute. Mr Justice Cranston further clarified the law in this judgement Yet from my discussions with Kirklees this week it seems this isn’t clear enough.

Meltham Bridleway 68 & other hard to see rights of way.

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Another example of rights of way being invisible by applicants in the planning process. Application number 2017/92986 is for a farm workers dwelling, access for which is along Meltham Bridleway 68.

Public rights of way are a material consideration in the planning process yet the professional agents who have drawn up this application state that access is “Private”. Odd that as it takes all of 30 seconds on the internet to find that the status of Deer Hill End Lane is in fact a public bridleway. The agents ought to have had a bit more work to do in considering how to deal with the bridleway in the context of the planning application. Instead it’s just not mentioned.

There’s an opportunity here for our cash strapped council to think creatively and secure some “planning gain” in terms of new and better signage of the bridleway and also some signage to make drivers aware of the bridleway and horses crossing on both Blackmoorfoot Road and Slaithwaite Road. These sort of improvements are perfectly reasonable but difficult to achieve when applicants “ignore” rights of way and planners have a tendency to overlook such detail as it’s all too much trouble.

This rights of way invisibility is a common occurrence in the planning process and has been evident in several applications recently in the Colne Valley and Huddersfield. One particularly amusing  application  is to replace some (illegal) gates on a public footpath with wrought iron electric gates. Again an application drawn up by a professional company but no mention what so ever that the gates would obstruct Huddersfield Footpath 433. To add further irony Kirklees Highways (the highway authority  for Footpath 433) consider the proposal “acceptable from a highways point of view”. Comedy gold unless of course you want to walk the footpath or begin to untangle the mess created.

An application affecting over half a mile of Colne Valley Footpath 188 (called an “access track” by the applicant’s professional) receives a cursory standard footnote from Kirklees despite the application stating the track (Footpath 188) will be improved. A missed opportunity in these austere times to improve things for the public or at least to make sure things are not made worse!

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Acceptable from a Highways point of view.

 

 

 

 

A modest success ;-)

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That’s better!

Eleven weeks after I first brought the blatant obstruction of Holmfirth Footpath 188 to the attention of Yorkshire Water and subsequently Kirklees Council the issue has been resolved!

As suggested in my original post all that was needed was some new hinges and a sneck to get the old gate working again.  Incredible that someone would go to the lengths they did to block the path with boulders and drag their feet  when politely asked to put it right. Several Yorkshire Water staff were involved in requesting the removal of the obstruction on a number of occasions and I understand two members of staff attended a site visit with the tenant. I know at least one visit was made to the site by a member of staff from Kirklees Council. In addition time has been spent liaising with Yorkshire Water and directly with the tenant responsible for the illegal obstruction.

It’s worth pondering  –

  1. Obstructing a public footpath is illegal
  2. Yorkshire Water’s costs are paid for from everyone’s water rates
  3. Kirklees Council is in dire financial straights
  4. The taxpayer funds Kirklees Councils costs on this matter
  5. The tenant is subsidised via cap payments by the taxpayer
  6. The public are paying for everything here but have been denied access along the public path.

My initial reports to Kirklees Council were ignored so on 28th August 2017 I served a Section 130a notice and it was only after this that my reports were taken seriously and acted upon. From experience I find that if an obstruction makes it to 6 months it becomes part of the status quo and council managers will try to explain it away and justify it’s presence rather than get on and shift it. So maybe after receiving a few “unique” reference numbers but no action Section 130a is the answer?

The issue has also been passed onto the Rural Payments Agency and I’ve had a very encouraging response from their office.

It is Kirklees Council’s policy to refer incidents such as this to the RPA and it would be a powerful deterrent to landowners obstructing public rights of way if it was used. I don’t believe it ever has been in Kirklees despite many opportunities. The Council could save a lot of money if it took this option on reported obstructions. I’d suggest that noone in receipt of CAP payments would block a public right of way if they seriously thought Kirklees would inform the RPA and a full land inspection was on the cards.

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Holmfirth Cricket Club Public Right Of Way

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The signs challenging the right of way had been removed along with the fencing when I visited. Only the challenge to the illegal sign remained.

This public right of way must be one of the most well used in the Holmfirth area. Generations of children and parents have used it to  access Sands Rec, Holmfirth Pool , the River Holme, Holmfirth High School or just cut through to Huddersfield Road.

Many of us use it early or late in the day for a quiet dog walk past the cricket field and down to the river. During some of the festivals and events which take place in Holmfirth such as the duck race,folk festival,bonfire etc many hundreds of people will walk this public right of way during the course of a day.

Everyone using this right of way does so as of right . No one asks permission or would even think permission was needed. No permission has ever been given by the owners who are fully aware of the popularity and extensive use of this public right of way over their property. I doubt you’d find many people in Holmfirth who are not aware of its existence or who have not walked it at some point in their lives.

Unfortunately the public use of the right of way is now being challenged and signs have gone up stating it is a not a right of way but a permissive path during daylight hours. This is news to most people I would think and has caused a lot of interest on the local Facebook Page

The right of way is not recorded on the council’s Definitive Map and Statement so it is vulnerable however there is a claim to add the right of way as a bridleway. A decision has to be made by the council in the coming weeks on this claim.

Claiming rights of way can  be a long winded process  but I’d urge anyone who has used this route regularly for 20 years to complete an evidence form this week and return it to Kirklees. Evidence forms can be downloaded here

The council has been aware of this right of way for many years and should have been more proactive in securing it’s future. The Holme Valley Riverside Way nearly came along this path and it was strongly suggested at the time of the routes creation that the Council make a legal order to formally create a right of way here as there is a proven need and long established and accepted public use.

Furthermore  such is the weight and regularity of use of the right of way that there is a case  that public rights have obviously been established at common law. You only need to look at the Facebook response to see how many people  regularly use it. So in addition to the current claim the council ought to be recognizing the long established use of the route both past and present, the need for the route as a safe off road path and the routes integral role in access to the River Holme and surrounding green spaces.

The council perhaps with an input from local Holme Valley South Councillors , Holmfirth Parish Council and groups such as River Holme Connections needs to come up with a plan beyond the claim which ensures this public right of way for the future.

When I wandered down to photograph the “No right of way” signs they had gone!! Along with the fencing which had narrowed the right of ways width. This would seem like an emphatic bit of people power or a tactical retreat by the landowner who may just have recognised that placing the signs has given the issue a much higher profile and will provoke much more evidence in support of the right of way.

 

Battle of the green fields – Scholes

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Footpath off Cross Lane Scholes

Kirklees planners and councillors reached a new low at the Planning Sub Committee (Huddersfield Area) on 31st August 2017 approving a development of some 39 homes at a greenfield site at Scholes in the Holme Valley.

The attitude of councillors and planners towards local residents genuine concerns and their ignorance of the value of green public open spaces for public health and well being caught my eye.

This is another case of sharp suited wolves picking off green space aided and abetted not just by the council’s planning policy vacuum  but by turning a blind eye to a further nearby  greenfield site where some 140 houses could be built. Only a fool would consider the effects of the two sites separately.

The webcast of the meeting is revealing. Chair Cllr Terry Lyons is in a very grumpy mood and votes in support of the proposal. It will be interesting to see how Cllr Lyons votes when a similar proposal affecting a greenfield site and a public footpath in his own backyard comes up before the committee.

In contrast to the reasonable,articulate and well made arguments of  local residents members of the committee seemed slightly annoyed and disinterested, voting predictably along tribal party lines instead of the details and merits or otherwise of the application. Sadly this is how it works in Kirklees. Typical labour councillors from Batley or Dewsbury do not have a grasp on the public value of green spaces or rights of way.

Tellingly one Labour councillor dismisses the value of green space completely saying “I do think we’re getting to a stage where we’re paying more attention to public open space than we are to bigger issues such as highways issues.What I would say is put  money where it’s really needed in highways”  The highways referred to are of course the ones gridlocked with cars rather than the footways,cycle lanes ,footpaths and bridleways which the council is also responsible for but routinely ignores.This attitude infects the council,it’s management,officers and decision making processes.

It’s staggering that a councillor could be so dismissive of public open space where children,parents and grandparents can spend quality car free, healthy time together. Over half the population in Kirklees is obese yet the committee puts £140k of developers money into roads rather than green space or public rights of way which offer an alternative to the epidemic of inactivity costing the country so much.

The council should be looking to improve the green infrastructure and with it public health at every opportunity rather than continually pouring money into roads. £140k would enable a lot of basic maintenance works to be undertaken on the Council’s neglected public rights of way network. Such an idea seems beyond the imagination of planning officers or councillors. Instead this money will  fill in a few hundred potholes or a few nights winter gritting.

 

There’s an account of the meeting in the Examiner

The webcast of the meeting is here

 

When is a gate not a gate? 4

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Negotiating the gate.

Who’d have thought this would have run to 4 blog posts? I’m beginning to think this could go to a second series.

Yorkshire Water have previously confirmed that the land belongs to them and that as long ago as 4th July 2017 they asked their tenant to remove the boulders.  That’s a full 8 weeks ago. I wonder why it is taking so long?

It’s interesting to compare this lack of activity on Yorkshire Water’s behalf with the situation at Bartin & Greaves Planning Applications which are a just a few hundred metres away . Having met a lot of well argued objections to these proposals Yorkshire Water (Keyland developments) have submitted some 6 reports/letters, compiled by consultants Wardell Armstrong to peak park planners in an attempt to justify the planning applications see here. One can only imagine the resources involved to produce these reports in such a small space of time. The planning consultations ended on 16th June and the reports arguing against the consultees are dated July. So it’s likely that a polite request to remove a simple obstruction from a public path on Yorkshire Water land has already taken up more time but produced no results. Why not put a kissing gate here ? Stock proof and pedestrian friendly. Kissing Gate Spec

Yorkshire Water has 2 tenants in this area and they are clearly capable people who run businesses and can meet deadlines. This is demonstrated by the fact that between them they claim over one hundred thousand pounds in public money via the CAP payments scheme. A condition of receiving such payments is that all rights of way on the land associated with the claim are open for public use. See here Cross Compliance

 

 

 

When is a gate not a gate 3

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The obstructed gate is top rightish in this photo where the wood is.
Following on from yesterday’s episode we contacted Yorkshire Water again to highlight the lack of progress.
I have walked this path again today and no attempt has been made to clear the boulders.
Could you please clarify if Yorkshire Water itself are responsible for the land and obstruction or whether it is entirely the Tennant’s responsibility?
I have also reported the issue to Kirklees Council but have heard nothing.
As such I believe I can myself serve a notice on the Council for removal of the obstructions and they are obliged to serve notice on the persons responsible hence my query above.
The issue would ultimately be resolved at Huddersfield Magistrate Court should the obstructions remain.
Regards
The following response was received this morning. As is the way with official bodies it doesn’t answer what was asked but seems slightly panicky and defensive.

Thank you for notifying this.

I have made numerous attempts to the tenant and still nothing has been
done.

Myself and another colleague are looking into this. As we will need to take
action on this matter.

So Yorkshire Water are “looking into this” and “will need to take action”. That’s a little disappointing considering the length of time this difficult obstruction has now been in place and the degree of inconvenience which is being caused to the public.
We contacted Yorkshire Water directly as the Highway Authority, Kirklees Council, seems to have disregarded its own legal obligations with regard to public rights of way  and enforcement. The hope was that Yorkshire Water would be able to sort out this relatively straightforward issue in a timely manner by speaking directly to its Tenant.
However Kirklees Council, who are responsible for the footpath and for keeping it open and available for public use were informed on 17th July 2017 of the obstruction. They very helpfully and gave us our own unique reference number.
Your unique reference number is: 3578243
Your request will be dealt with as soon as possible. Kind regards,
Kirklees Council
Since we’ve heard nothing further we contacted Kirklees Council again today and they very helpfully gave us another unique reference number!
Your unique reference number is: 3590269
Your request will be dealt with as soon as possible. Kind regards,
Kirklees Council
The point of all this is to demonstrate how under valued and increasingly forgotten our public rights of way network  is becoming. No one wants to know. There is no self remedy here. The boulders need a machine to move them and most walkers don’t carry that kind of kit!
Kirklees Council is super keen at the moment on people volunteering in its parks,open spaces and public rights of way Natural Kirklees. It seems to be a one way street with the council  happily taking  free labour and publicity but refusing to carry out the work which volunteers cannot do such as removal of illegal obstructions. You can of course have as many unique reference numbers as you wish!
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