The application to divert this popular path which gives direct access to public land at Wolfstones will be heard at the Huddersfield Planning Sub Committee next week. Details of the meeting are here .
It is highly unlikely that any of the councillors on the committee have heard of this path ,let alone use it. Most of them probably won’t read the papers that accompany the committee report and none have any training in public rights of way matters. However it is their decision whether to authorise a legal order to divert this path away from it’s destination and onto a road. If you use and value the path and have the time please consider attending the meeting to put your view to the committee members. It is at 13:00 hrs at the Town Hall in Huddersfield on January 30th.
Some points to consider
- There is no obligation at all for the committee to give authority for the making of a diversion order. Just because the application is related to a planning permission it does not follow that an order has to be made.
- The planning permission is for a car parking area and a link between 2 buildings. There is no planning gain for the public here ie houses to live in, improved highway network etc. However there is a the significant loss of a very popular long standing public path. The loss of the public amenity and enjoyment is very significant and and is not outweighed by any public benefit from the development.
- As previously reported here Kirklees planners and Rights of Way accepted this application without the full knowledge that the path is the only direct (off road) public access to the area of public land at Wolfstones. This was a serious error.
- The proposed new path is substantially less convenient for walkers heading to Wolfstones. It turns at 90 degrees off the current direct route and ends up on a road some distance away. Walkers then have to back track to reach the access to Wolfstones. Currently the path goes straight there. Most of us walk to get away from cars and roads and to enjoy the quiet countryside.
- Kirklees have recently declared a climate emergency and developed an action plan. The plan aims to increase walking in the district by 20% it also states “The Council will continue to develop and promote sustainable and active travel and ensure that Kirklees is recognised as a great place to walk and cycle, inspiring more people to walk and cycle more often as a mode of transport, for work, leisure or for sport”. This proposal makes a popular circular route harder and less attractive to the public and will lead to less public use.This conflicts with the councils stated aims outlined in the climate emergency plan.
- The proposal is also at odds with the Councils Rights of Way Improvement Plan which aims to boost green tourism, short circular walks,local culture and heritage and access for those with disabilities. Effectively diverting a public path onto a road goes against these aims.
- Should the committee be minded to grant authority for a diversion order they should instruct officers to abandon the current “neutral” stance which they are taking and take a stance against the order in the future and at any subsequent public inquiry.
8. What you think.