Bartin & Greave planning applications. It’s a no!

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Turned out to be a Friday 13th horror show for the developers as both applications to reinstate the ruins of Bartin and Greaves farm houses were turned down at the Peak District National Park planning committee last Friday. This was a good decision made for the right reasons.

Path Watch has followed the  Applications from the beginning and submitted detailed comments on the plans and encouraged others who use Holmfirth Bridleways 168 and 89 to comment too. In all there were some 31 public objections to the plans.

I attended the meeting on Friday 13th at the national parks Bakewell office and spoke for my allotted 3 minutes highlighting my concerns for the future of the bridleways and the wider effects on the landscape should these plans  be approved. The national park planning officers had put a good case together for refusal which in a nutshell said that the benefits of saving these two listed buildings through the proposed plans would harm the nature of the buildings themselves and the wider landscape in which they sit.

There followed a long and, I felt intelligent and considered debate amongst the 12 members and I did feel the decision could go either way. There was a vote to defer the decision which was lost and finally the proposals were voted out with 6 members voting for refusal, 3 supporting the proposals and 3 abstentions.

I imagine an appeal will be likely but there is  a consistent history over 20 years at these sites of planning applications of this nature being turned down because of the negative effects on the wider landscape, the poor access, negative effects on recreation, the bridleways and unsympathetic treatment of the buildings themselves in the scale of works proposed.  Wouldn’t it be great if Kelder Group accepted this and spent some money repairing both buildings to a basic standard and allowing continued low level agricultural use?

 

 

 

 

Bartin & Greave Planning Applications

Bartin Greave 12 (1 of 1)
Greave Farm (centre) Peak District National Park Holmfirth

Superb work by the Peak District National park staff in their reports on these planning applications which go to committee on Friday 13th October 2017.

Well worth reading

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!

Carr Farm Gates Holmfirth 71 (1 of 1)
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 Right Of Way – Storm in a teacup?

 

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Holmfirth

Must have been a slow day for news in Huddersfield as the “story” of the Holmfirth Cricket Club public right of way hit the headlines in the local rag .

The cricket club’s “rights of way consultant”  is quoted by  the Examiner  saying “incidents of vandalism and risk of encampment by travellers had prompted the move” to close the footpath. Along with a perceived health & safety risk from the foundary.

There is no explanation as to how an inert public footpath is responsible for  acts of vandalism. I’d suggest people are by and large responsible for  such acts not public footpaths. The site can be accessed from a variety of  locations including Bridge Lane and Huddersfield Road so logic would suggest closing these public highways during the night too if they are similarly inclined to carry out random acts of tagging in the night.

Criminals of course will use any means of access to do their anti social activities. Whether the public right of way here is closed or open will make no difference and it is no justification for denying legitimate public access.

The “risk of encampment by travellers” seems a pretty desperate justification for closing the path. As someone who lived overlooking the cricket ground for nearly 20 years I can vouch for the fact that the area is a quiet backwater and not one regularly invaded by the travelling community who tend to favour council owned land.

Who knows what the motivation of the car driver taking a trip across the wicket was but such things are rare, isolated  incidents rather than the norm. That issue could easily be prevented from ever happening again by  putting up a short barrier between the pitch and carpark.

And the foundary? Well it seems odd to justify closing a public right of way on a night by using a business that is open in the daytime as a reason.

So it really is a storm in a teacup to some degree. But then again you have to wonder why the club would go to  the trouble of employing a “rights of way” consultant , causing  friction with locals and to a degree damaging the clubs standing in the community by it’s actions in attempting to close the path?

There is a lot of speculation locally about this site not least because the club were seemingly willing to sell up back in 2014

Now generally speaking a  site with a public right of way present can be problematic to a developer but a site with a permissive path is a pushover because that permission can be withdrawn at any time.

 

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

 

Bartin & Greave Planning Update 2

Bartin (1 of 1)
Bartin

These applications are not now to be considered by the Peak planning committee on 8th September.

There seems to be much going on behind the scenes. Keyland Developments Ltd (Yorkshire Water) have commissioned consultants to produce various reports on the structural,highway,archeological,heritage,birds and landscape effects of the proposals.

Credit to the Peak Park archeology, heritage and landscape sections  who argue against the proposals as they are going ahead. Kirklees Rights of Way Unit stand up for the bridleway very well making some good points and an objection. The reports from Keyland Developments and counterpoints from the peak park are worth a read (honestly). Find them here

The bird survey is fascinating and confirms what a rich environment this area is for the likes of Curlews,Lapwings, Woodcock,Snipe etc. Both Bartin and Greave have Little Owls nesting in them but there’s no sighting of either Ring Ouzel or Sandpiper which I’ve observed here each summer. The bird surveyor believes there will be little disturbance from vehicles associated with the developments as access is so bad residents would wish to avoid driving along the bridleway as much as possible! Ironic as the application states that access is fit for purpose!

There’s nothing in these reports about how the public value,connect and enjoy the landscape as it is now. And that’s the big question isn’t it? Just what is that worth?Not just to us now but to those future generations who may never get to experience the solitude and sense of history a walk up this valley offers.

The NHS is creaking with diseases caused by affluence and inactivity. Rather than trashing our countryside and national parks we should be helping people make a connection with the outdoors that takes them beyond the fridge and diabetes clinics.

There’s a groundswell of support locally against the proposals with many people hitting the keyboard and sending in objections. Good to see the landscape and bridleway is valued by those who live here and enjoy it.

Clearly the corporate wolves are circling and what seemed to be a poorly prepared attack on this beautiful valley is now becoming more organised. Perhaps if they can’t make a kill first time by gaining planning permission they will try and finish things off on appeal?