Holmfirth Public Footpath 60 Wolfstones

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Wolfstone Height

There is currently a proposal to divert Holmfirth Public Footpath 60 at Wolfstone Heights Farm in connection with a planning permission granted in 2014.  The case neatly highlights the endemic failings of  Kirklees Planning not properly considering public rights of way.

The issue of Holmfirth Footpath 60 ought to have been looked at much more closely by planners.  This seems to have been given the nod through despite Kirklees planners being blissfully unaware that Footpath 60 gives direct and traffic free access to the open access land at Wolfstone Height.

If the proposal succeeds 150 metres of lovely open and direct rural footpath will be turned into an enclosed,hard surfaced 130 metre footpath going in the wrong direction and dumping you on a road without a footway some 140 metres from where you were going.

The proposal is shown here reconsult plan  with something of an explanation here reason statement  .Deadline for comments is 3rd August 2018.

Washpit Mills – A Missed Opportunity

Holmfirth FP 195 Diver Lane (1 of 1)
Holmfirth Footpath 195 at Washpit Mills

There are 38 planning conditions in the decision notice  granting planning permission for housing at Washpit Mills which was granted on 15th June 2018. Unfortunately none of them require the developer to improve the only traffic free pedestrian link from the site onto Dunford Road (and a bus stop). That link is Holmfirth Footpath 195.

An underwhelming performance not just from planners but local councillors and the parish council who should have surely secured  improvements here at no cost to the taxpayer. The idea was in the original proposals but disappeared without explanation in the second application.

So although Kirklees are stuck on the “we’re skint” mantra even when there’s a freebie up for grabs they are clearly incapable of securing it. There are already reports locally of increased  and speeding traffic heading to the mill site and it would seem the public must run that one sided gauntlet or the morass of Footpath 195 – although to be fair we are currently in the paths brief midsummer dry period. Oh wait a minute, it’s raining.

Good Bye Holmfirth Footpath 146

Hol 146 Upper Millshaw (1 of 1)
oh dear…

Planning permission for the development at Upper Millshaw was granted on 3rd May 2018. Today, 17 May, the public footpath through the site looked like this!

You’ve got to laugh at the officers report dated 3 May 2018 which, after considering rights of way at the site, rather naively concludes –

“The proposal is therefore considered to have an acceptable impact on
highway and pedestrian safety and would accord with Policies R13, T10 and
T19 of the UDP and Policies in the draft Local Plan.” 

I’m not quite sure just how safe for pedestrians the deep and unguarded excavations  which are close to or even on Footpath 146 really are (See below) but it’s nice to know it all accords with the local plan.

Hol 146 Upper Millshaw Excavations (1 of 1)

Kirklees have been aware of issues affecting  Holmfirth Footpath 146 going back some 7 months. See here and  here  but have taken the usual laid back attitude to enforcement. A contributor to the blog  helpfully reported the beginning of tipping on 30th April and rather forlornly suggested “prompt action” might avert a bigger problem.

At the point that Kirklees were made aware of the problem the site and footpath looked like this.

Holmfirth 146 Uppermill Shaw 3 (1 of 1)

Clearly an intervention at this point could have stopped the further and more damaging works done to Holmfirth Footpath 146  but given the councils track record on these issues it was never going to happen.


Countryfile In Kirklees

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Council Tax Farming. The Kirklees entry for the Countryfile 2019 calendar. (Copyright Duke of Heckmondwike)

Council Tax Farming has caught the eye of the UK’s favourite rural TV programme Countryfile and Matt Baker has been spotted on several building sites,sorry fields, in the Holme Valley filming a piece on this exciting new agricultural development.

Matt was also granted a rare interview with lord of the manor The Duke of Heckmondwike Councillor David She’ard, one of the leading lights in the Council Tax Farms movement.

The interview got off to a shaky start with the curmudgeonly Duke saying to Matt “You’re not John Craven! Where’s John? I’ve some photos for him for the calendar!” However despite the Duke’s misgivings and his difficulty with the geordie language he generously shared his philosophy on his expanding Council Tax Farm Empire.

“I build,sorry grow, them all on greenfields in the hills over there near someplace called Holmfirth. The land there is very fertile and once my noble men of the order of the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee have sown the seeds the luxury 3 and 4 bedroom houses,sorry crops, spring up within a few weeks. My critics are wrong to say they are housing estates.This is agriculture and there will be many pot plants and herbaceous borders between the estate roads and Range Rovers”

“The land is enclosed in a beautiful mosaic of Heras fencing  which becomes a landscape feature itself as it is often left leaning and abandoned all over the countryside.”

Matt asked how the innovative approach to Council Tax Farms came about. “Well I’m skint” said the Duke. I can’t squeeze enough cash from my existing serfs so I need to produce a quick growing cash crop like luxury houses to harvest the annual council tax”. My right hand man Councillor Baldrick Pandor, Marquis of Batley, helped me with this cunning plan.We’ve named it Ye Olde Big Build rather than the Local Plan to make it sound fun, friendly and positive  even though all we’re really doing is handing over prime greenfield sites to developers to make a quick killing.You won’t put that bit on the telly will you?”

Matt probed the Duke further and seemed to hit something of a nerve when he mentioned the loss of valuable countryside, affordability of the homes for young people, social housing and the complete lack of new infrastructure. “Look your not John Craven” said the Duke. “I only agreed to this interview so I could give John a photo for next years calendar.  Could you pass this on as Kirklees entry for 2019? I don’t mind what month we are”


The Footpath Which Crosses The Site Shall Not Be Obstructed….

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So goes one of the most well used and routinely ignored planning footnotes in Kirklees. Both images here show public rights of way across small sites where the developer has been clearly advised by Kirklees of the existence of public footpaths. That advice is not to obstruct or interfere with the public paths during or after development.

Kirklees are getting this right much of the time. There are even specific conditions within planning permissions relating to public rights of way ( see Holmfirth Bridleway 154 and Planning Condition 4 ) designed to protect them.

It all goes wrong when planning footnotes and conditions such as these are ignored by developers and Kirklees fails to take action.

Upper Mill (1 of 1)

“I’m embarrassed to be associated with this Council” says local councillor!

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The Washpit Mills  planning proposal for 50 plus houses and a gym in this peaceful Holme Valley backwater was predictably waved through by  councillors on the Huddersfield Planning sub committee of 8th March. The Labour chair of the committee did the deed with his casting vote condoning continued obstruction of a long established public right of way through the site along with a requirement for locals to hang onto their wellies  for the foreseeable future if they wish to paddle along Footpath 195.

In stark contrast to the cynicism displayed by labour councillors, yet again dumping on the Holme Valley,  local residents who spoke to the committee were eloquent in their arguments against the proposals.  Their considered words were of course completely ignored by our democratic representatives who only obey the Red Lord from Heckmondwike,Darth Sheard.  He wishes to build, build, build -not affordable houses that are needed by local people but, in effect, a “council tax farm” to keep his empire afloat.

Local tory councillor Nigel Patrick had something of a “fight them on the beaches/Winston Churchill” moment calling out his own Highways officers who he suggested (with some justification) of “not looking at the same roads as me.”Describing how he worked closely with planners and highways officers Cllr Patrick described the report as “a slap in the face” and said he felt “let down”. Clearly the implication was that in all his meetings with planners and highways officers they’d not bothered to mention they were going to do the dirty on him when it came to committee.

He had a very telling point regarding a proposed footway which will have a dropped kerb to allow vehicles and HGV’s in particular to …er…. drive over it! “It’s total and utter nonsense,it’s pure fantasy a fairytale ” he continued. And he is right.

The problem with such committees in Kirklees is that they vote on party political lines  and if Jones Homes or Wimpey came in and wanted the first born of every family in a tory ward before building so much as a garden shed our gormless labour councillors would oblige.

This approach is leading to the disregard and ruin of a significant proportion of the local rights of way network and countryside.If a local councillor of whatever persuasion can say in public that “I’m embarrassed to be associated with this council” then there really is something seriously wrong.

On a lighter note veteran Cllr Ken Simms described the sharp suited developers as “thinking we’re all daft and wear flat caps and clogs” He forgot the whippets and mine is rather offended.

 Link  to webcaste of the meeting.




Footpath maintenance budget blown on trip to Cannes?


Whilst  residents of Kirklees battle with harsh winter weather,cuts in services,blocked public footpaths and a 6% rise in council tax the council’s comedy deputy leader has been spotted at a developers jamboree in Cannes. The stunning French resort  certainly looks a better bet than Huddersfield in March so maybe Cllr Pandor is not as daft as he makes out?

Cllr Panodor and his delegation are attending the world’s leading  property and investment event according to the local paper in an attempt to attract more developers to Kirklees and build 10,000 homes in the next 10 years. Why the council felt the need to send him to France (unless they wanted a break from him for a bit) is a mystery as there are developers in almost every greenfield  in the district at the moment.

It does rather highlight the councils desperation to jump into bed with sharp suited developers whose priorities are perhaps not altogether altruistic. As can be seen from the current planning chaos in Kirklees private developers want greenfield sites to build expensive houses and maximise profits whereas what is actually needed in Kirklees is affordable new builds (average asking price in HD9 is over £350k) and social housing. Not really going to find that in Cannes are we?

I suspect the council prefer the £350k type residents and the council tax they can milk them for but that doesn’t look so good in public for a labour run council.

All this high flying and gadding about is quite a contrast to the daily grind of excuses,evasion and platitudes which emanate from kirklees when residents ask for a footpath to be maintained or an obstruction to be cleared. Suddenly the cupboard is bare.


Holmfirth Footpath 31 Robinson Lane – Planning Appeal

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Holmfirth Footpath 31 Robinson Lane

The lovely Holmfirth Footpath 31 which is so characteristic of an unspoilt public path in the valley has found itself in the last chance saloon as Miller Homes  appeal the refusal of this planning application. The informal hearing is to be held on 20th March 2018 at the Town Hall Huddersfield.

 Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – Section 78
Appeal by Tim Williams, Miller Homes Limited
Site at Land off Woodhead Road, Brockholes, Holmfirth
Planning Reference: 2017/93326
Appeal Reference: APP/Z4718/W/17/3191803

The Hearing into this matter has now been arranged and will be held on
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 at Huddersfield Town Hall, Corporation Street,
Huddersfield, HD1 2TU commencing at 10.00am


Washpit Mills

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It looks like the developers have added an altogether slicker operator to present the second attempt to develop Washpit Mills. Bit of a shame as I rather liked the hapless “I don’t know what you’ve got to do” honesty of the last one  !

In the   new  application for some 51 houses we are spoilt for choice with information running to some 40 plans and 8 supporting documents including a 187 page transport assessment!

Oddly there is only a cryptic mention of the public right of way which runs through the site. This has been used by vehicles,horses,cyclists and walkers for as long as the mill has been there. It was of course blocked off immediately the developer took over the site which is what you’d expect. As the route is not recorded on Kirklees weird and wonderful Definitive Map it is open to abuse on two counts 1) Closure by the landowner (tick) and 2) Any claim made to add the path to the Definitive Map being parked up at Her Majesty’s pleasure on the Councils rather badly named “Priority List” (oh another tick there too).

So the access road within the development will be built over a longstanding public right of way. This is described in the transport assessment as  “The new access roads and all communal areas within the site are to remain privately maintained will be covered by an appropriate legal agreement. Current lawful rights of access through the complex are respected and will be retained. ” Not so clear if this means public or private rights of access?

In the old proposal I’m sure there was an undertaking to fund  improvement work to Holmfirth Footpath 195 which runs from opposite the site through to Dunford Road and the bus stop but this seems to have been dropped. Whilst the new transport assessment waxes lyrically about  “Walking stimulates both personal health and the health of communities and local
economies. Government health improvement advice states that just 30 minutes brisk
walking 5 times a week can bring about significant reductions in the risk of coronary
heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes” and “the site can be accessed via the public rights of way network which provides an alternative part segregated pedestrian route that are available to Holmfirth”  

Whilst I wouldn’t want reality to get in the way  I think it’s fair to say Holmfirth Footpath 195  is unusable by  future residents living the green dream and wishing to head off to work in their office clothes via the path and onwards from the bus stop. It’s a quagmire to be avoided between the end of August and mid July. Neglected by the council and suffering from a year round land drainage problem unless you’ve a good pair of wellies and a change of clothes I’d give it a miss.

Holmfirth 195 Drainage (1 of 1)
“The site can be accessed via the public rights of way network which provides an alternative part segregated pedestrian route that are available to Holmfirth.” Photo shows the rather soggy reality.

Holmfirth Bridleways

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Ox Lee Lane

There are the sum total of 8 bridleways in the Parish of Holmfirth out of a total of around 200 public rights of way. In Kirklees only 8% of the 700 odd miles of public rights of way are bridleways. They are a rare and increasingly endangered thing. This is such a shame because their multi use status for walkers,riders and cyclists gives them added value to a wider range of users.

Unfortunately 4 out of the 8 Holmfirth bridleways have featured on this blog which as you know is the A&E of rights of way and for some paths being featured here is akin to having the last rites read to you a few puffs before you’re final breath.

Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189 are about to celebrate the first anniversary  of a botched attempt to turn them into a road by Yorkshire Water. This time last year a limestone surface was laid over the existing sandstone which led to numerous complaints from users. Kirklees failed miserably to cure the problem by allowing Yorkshire Water to bury the limestone under a second concrete like foreign substance. More Harold Shipman than Dr Kildare from our local Highway Authority.

Up on Cheesgate Nab Holmfirth Bridleway 134   is on the slab awaiting some unnecessary plastic surgery to remove it’s natural good looks in favour of a wrinkle free but car friendly finish.

Our most recent addition to the ward is Ox Lee Lane – Holmfirth Bridleway 154 now a Frankenstein creation of rocks & road planings resembling a badly put together jigsaw of left over materials. Our Dr Shipman highway authority is lurking at the end of the ward probably about to administer a final dose of indifference to finish it off.