Holmfirth Bridleway 94 Windy Hill – Progress.

Reinstatement works to BW 94

Previously on PathWatch we featured the dreadful damage to Holmfirth Bridleway 94 at Windy Hill quarry (here and here )

The bridleway was shut in early August with an emergency closure order which was subsequently extended with a 6 months closure to allow for reinstatement works. The observant reader will notice that the closure doesn’t apply to cyclists!

Although the bridleway is still closed it is possible to see works to reinstate the route from the road below and it looks encouraging. Hopefully the bridleway will soon be reopened for public use.

This case has been dealt with by the council’s “Complex Enforcement Officer” who seems to have access to a wider range of council resources than either Prow or “normal” enforcement staff.

Whilst things do look encouraging it’s best not to count any eggs or even assume the hens are laying with Kirklees but PathWatch lives in hope.

Sub Committee Highlights Featuring Denby Dale FP 82 Extinguishment.

Councillor Steve Hall in good form.

Councillor Steve Hall got to be Chair of the Sub Committee for the day and brought his own no nonsense common sense approach to proceedings.

Councillors were falling over each other to approve the extinguishment of Denby Dale 82. Steve Hall led the way by saying “It looked pretty straight forward”.

Councillor Firth asked if the applicants had ever though of opening a cafe as they’d have a path straight to it. Comedy gold.

No reports were put before the sub committee from the Prow list of definitive map modification order applications There are 248 applications on the list. The number 1 priority case was received by Kirklees in 1993. There are also some 16 directions from the Secretary of State which set a deadline for determination. None of these were put before the committee.

Kirklees uses the well worn “lack of resources” excuse to both the public and Secretary of State for the lack of any meaningful progress on the 248 outstanding applications. Odd that it has resources for an extinguishment then?

Cllr Eric Firth

Planning Applications Affecting Prows In Kirklees

This one had no planning permission!

Kirklees publish a weekly list of planning applications affecting public rights of way. They are required to do this under the Town & Country Planning (Development Control Procedure) (England) Order 2015 Notice Under Article 15. Often the effects of these applications on prows is fairly minor and at other times it can be the end of a lovely well used rural or semi rural path. This procedure is the public’s opportunity to comment. PathWatch will endeavour to share the list on a regular basis. Have a look, there may be a path you use on here. Commenting is free and who knows they might take it on board.

This weeks paths are as follows. Huddersfield FP 390 Birkby Hall Road. Huddersfield FP 298 Bull Green Road. Huddersfield FP 62 Dalton Bank Road. Holmfirth FP 139 Butt Lane,Hepworth. Huddersfield FP 343 New North Road. Denby Dale FP 61 Cliff Hill (Major development). Dewsbury FP 107 Heckmondwike Road. Spen 41,44,46 Hunsworth Lane. Batley FP 37 Hanging Heaton. Mirfield FP 12 Northorp Lane.

Batley Footpath 5 – How Not To Get An Obstruction Removed.

Locked Gate On Batley 5

Back in 2014 half a dozen members of the public reported locked gate obstructions on Batley Footpath 5. Some 8 years later and these obstructions remain in place. This is despite Kirklees Council serving s143 notices on the landowners responsible for the obstructions in 2018! Yes, you read that right 2018. We’re all for giving people plenty of time to remove obstructions but four years and counting?

For the record here are the notices

The notices were obtained via a freedom of information request which Kirklees refused to answer for some 6 months. Legally,they should respond within 20 working days! It was only after the Information Commissioners Office became involved that the full sad tale of Batley 5 became apparent.

For whatever reasons the internal mechanisms within Kirklees which should kick in when a member of the public reports an obstruction do not seem to work (really?Ed).

Issues of enforcement are dealt with by a separate department from Prow and work is duplicated. Prow officers visit the site several times and this is repeated by enforcement officers when the matter is passed over for “enforcement action”. Some 6 Kirklees officers, 2 landowners, 1 Leeds officer, 1 third party solicitor, and 1 Highways Agency officer have been involved in the case. Land searches have been carried out, research into past side road orders which affect the path has been undertaken and extensive liaison with the neighboring authority of Leeds. The public of course pick up the substantial tab for all this.

The 4 obstructions are still there.

There is no overall management of enforcement cases and it seems all to easy for cases like this to disappear .

The council will now have to start the process again and incur some of the same costs a second time over.

Meltham Bridleway 50 Update.

Back in 2020 PathWatch reported briefly on some dodgy doings to the surface of Meltham Bridleway 50. In short the lovely and rightly popular bridleway had been dug up and poorly reinstated with large sized aggregate. Lots of users from all groups reported the matter as it was happening.

The Peak Park who are the planning authority visited the site and concluded that planning permission was needed for the works. Nothing has been heard from them since. Kirklees visited and did manage to halt any further work. That was the peak of their activity and interest.

So almost 2 years later and nothing has been done to put this bridleway back into a usable condition for the public to enjoy . Regular readers will recognise the pattern here. It goes like this. Damage or obstruction to a public right of way. Flurry of complaints from the public. Visits from numerous council staff (and in this case the national park). Then nothing.

PathWatch will be back in 2 years with a further update. Probably a cut and paste job.

Sub Prime Diversion Proposal For Spen 24

The long winded diversion.

Kirklees are currently consulting on the proposed diversion of Spen Footpath 24 in relation to this planning application. The planning application (for a rather large Amazon distribution centre) has yet to be approved. Kirklees are advertising this consultation under s257 of the Town & Country Planning Act. This section is for orders where a planning application has been approved. In fact orders for diversions ahead of full planning permissions being granted ought to be under s257 (1A). The impression this consultation gives is that the development is approved and it is not. Details of the consultation should be here

Needless to say it’s a dog’s dinner and something you’d probably never want to walk down. For further information the Save Our Spen is a must visit.

Ex Holmfirth Bridleway 94 – Things Can Only Get..Er…Worse.

Ex Holmfirth Bridleway 94.

Previously on PathWatch we reported on the sad demise of Holmfirth Bridleway 94 which appears to have been subsumed into Windy Hill Quarry despite a lack of planning permission. Not to worry, the issue was reported as it was happening by many local users over a period from September 2021 onward. Oh hang on that’s wrong. Do worry, for neither Kirklees Planning or Rights of Way have taken any effective action on the ground over the intervening 8 months. This sort of situation always seems to blindside the bureaucrats. It’s not like problems of this nature haven’t happened before!

Kirklees Planning should have served a stop notice on the quarry last year as soon as they became aware of the works outside the quarry, on greenbelt land and on a public bridleway. This lack of action implies that planners aren’t that bothered and are happy to dump the issue on an overstretched Prow section. Meanwhile as can be seen above the bridleway is now unusable.

Ironically the Strategic Director who is responsible for Kirklees rights of way (Mr Parr) has recently been quoted in a propaganda article saying “We have nearly 1,900 PRoWs in the District, which our small team monitor. When residents tell us about the PRoWs being blocked or overgrown it is a great help.” Well lots of residents have contacted Kirklees about the loss of this bridleway and hardly anyone has heard a thing let alone get the bridleway back!

The article is here and of course it’s very good that a path has been cleared but the truth is this particular path was cleared fairly regularly prior to 2012 and there was never a problem with it until the council stopped doing it. Dealing with problems like Bridleway 94 and the many others featured on this blog requires a set of policies, procedures and resources to be directed promptly as issues arise. There is no good reason why Bridleway 94 should not have been reinstated within a 6 month timescale other than a complete lack of gumption and management at Kirklees which ultimately sits on Mr Parr’s doorstep.

Why not let Mr Parr know that Bridleway 94 is blocked – Colin.Parr@kirklees.gov.uk As he says “It’s a great help”

Popular 4×4 Routes Closed Around Holmfirth.

Scaly Gate.

A swath of “green lanes” in the Holme Valley have recently been closed to 4x4s by Kirklees. The 3 closures are on a popular circuit for damaging 4×4 vehicles but this Bank Holiday Monday all is quiet. Scaly Gate, Cheese Gate Nabside and Scar End Lane are now physically blocked off and have temporary closure orders placed on them.

It is hoped that these closures will become permanent and that they will be shortly extended to cover Ramsden Road and the Yateholme Lanes. This is a positive development for the area and those that enjoy non motorised use of the lanes or live nearby. It seems Kirklees are at last acknowledging the damage and nuisance caused by 4x4s and are now prepared to do something. 🙂

PUBLIC FOOTPATH DIVERSION ORDER HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 KIRKLEES COUNCIL (MELTHAM PUBLIC FOOTPATH 26 (PART) AND MEL THAM PUBLIC FOOTPATH 79 (PART) AT WM MORRISON STORE, STATION STREET, MELTHAM) PUBLIC PATH DIVERSION ORDER 2022

The paths as they were in 1926.

Kirklees are advertising a diversion order for Meltham Footpaths 26 & 79 at what is now the Morrisons store at Station Road, Meltham. This is the third attempt at diverting the two paths and is over 20 years on from an original Kirklees cock up. So, nicely matured but not in a good way.

Aerial photo from 2000 and the paths have gone:-)

The site was cleared by a developer in the late 1990’s. Kirklees granted a temporary closure for this work but looked the other way when the bridges carrying Footpaths 26 & 79 were removed along with all traces of the paths themselves. Kirklees continued to look the other way as planning permission for the store, carparks etc were fully implemented. Any complaints from the public about what was happening were ignored. Granting of the planning permission for this site did not give any legal authority for the removal of public footbridges and paths. This should have happened after a diversion order had been granted not before.

Of course development of the site has been both a great success and benefit to the area and of course both public footpaths needed to change to permit this. The question is why wasn’t this done to a high standard and with the public interest in mind 20 odd years ago?

The main issue with the diversion is that both footpaths 26 and 79 are being diverted onto an extensive flight of steps. In contrast both original paths negotiated this slope via footbridges and ramps in a much more direct manner. Footpath 79 is also diverted onto the Meltham Greenway which is shared with cyclists. The current width of Footpath 79 is 2.7 metres. The proposed new (shared) width is 2.5 metres. Arguably, these facts make the proposed new routes substantially less convenient than the original paths. You could have pushed a pram along either path in 1926 but not now in 2022.

In contrast Kirklees Council accepted in the case of Spenborough Footpath 110 (Spen Valley Leisure Centre) that a short flight of steps on the proposed diversion should be removed in favour of an improved gradient of not less than 1:12. Interestingly the council repeated the mistakes of the late 1990’s here by granting a temporary closure and then building on Spen 110. The diversion order has not yet been confirmed. Come back in 20 years 🙂 .

At a time when active travel is a priority it seems wrong to be making a barrier (the steps) on a traffic free route to a supermarket both legal and permanent which is what this order will do.

Any representations about or objections to the order may be sent or delivered in writing addressed to Harry Garland, Kirklees Council, Legal Services, PO Box 1720, Huddersfield, HD1 9EL no later than 29 April 2022. You should quote reference HG/D112-340 and state the grounds on which your objection/representation is made. Harry.Garland@kirklees.gov.uk

Footpaths 26 & 79 will be diverted onto these steps.