Holmfirth Bridleways 68 &189. More info.

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A van on the new road… opps,sorry bridleway to Greaves & Bartin.

Having made some enquiries it seems the resurfacing of these bridleways is more cock up than conspiracy. Yorkshire Water have confirmed that they have carried out the works with…wait for it….permission from Kirklees Council. Yes that’s the same Kirklees Council who have a legal duty to assert and protect the rights  of users of public rights of way. In this case that’s walkers, riders & cyclists. These groups are well represented in Kirklees and it’s interesting to ponder why none of their representative groups were consulted on the works to these popular but vulnerable bridleways?

It seems the Council received complaints back in the winter when Yorkshire Water made a ham fisted attempt to cover sections of the bridleways with limestone. Subsequently the Council agreed that Yorkshire Water could carry out resurfacing works but with a local sandstone sized 20mm to dust. It doesn’t appear that the Council asked any questions as to why an organisation like Yorkshire Water which is part of the bigger Kelder Group who also own Bartin & Greaves Farmsteads would suddenly wish to resurface a public bridleway at its own expense. Someone doing something for nothing? Surely not?

At the same time as these discussions were going on between Kirklees and Yorkshire Water Kirklees were objecting very strongly to the planning applications at Bartin & Greaves. It seems odd to me that the Council didn’t put 2 + 2 together and realise that Yorkshire Water’s sudden rush of altruism in wishing to resurface the bridleways must surely be linked to the companies planning applications who’s access is entirely along these bridleways. I’ll quote directly from the Council’s written submission which was excellent by the way!

KC PROW objects to the application in its role on behalf of the council as highway authority for public rights of way in Kirklees. The application submissions are silent and inadequate in terms of public rights of way. The submissions make no mention that the access to the property from the public vehicular highway network at Acres lane is entirely along public bridleways Holmfirth 68 & 189.
No submission is made on the impact of the development, both construction and use, on users of the public bridleways. The lack of information in submissions is of concern. The application refers to the “adequate width and construction” of Nether Lane (public bridleway 189), however recent works to the public bridleway have been undertaken without authority of this council as the highway authority for the public bridleways; those works have included the importation and use of unauthorised non-vernacular surfacing materials.
Public bridleways are relatively scarce in Kirklees and the network north of Digley reservoir is one of our area’s main resources for riders and merits adequate protection. The site is remote from the public vehicular highway network, over 2200m away along the public bridleway, and a significant distance from any public transport service or even small centre of population. Sustainability is an evident question for the planning authority to consider, particularly in this isolated important landscape which forms part of the very popular Digley area, important for local recreation and public access to the countryside,including in-bye land and moorland.
The red line boundary shown in submissions does not include all land necessary to develop the site, unless development is proposed to take place on foot, cycle and horseback. The submissions do not include any blue line boundary for further ownership outside the red line. The submissions appear inadequate for members of the public to fairly and easily identify and consider the merits and effect of the application proposals. KC PROW would ask the PDNPA to consider the benefits of requiring further information in additional or amended submissions and then re-advertising the applications. The lack of public rights of way information in submissions may give the impression that the applicant is avoiding this
material topic, which may mislead the public.
Much of the access from Acres Lane is narrow, with insufficient space for the passing of two vehicles, and insufficient for passing of even vehicle and rider over a number of lengths (e.g.White Walls Lane over a length of 180m+, and the corners and straight approaching Bartin). Intensification of use of this access by motor vehicles would have a negative effect on public bridleway use and peaceful enjoyment of this special part of the PDNP within Kirklees.
KC PROW does not agree with claims made in the application that the application
submissions address all relevant points for consideration. Public rights of way are a material consideration in the planning process and have been largely, if not entirely, ignored, despite the applicant’s knowledge of their existence and location and despite the inclusion in submissions of “access” and “planning” statements.

To add a rich layer of irony to the situation Yorkshire Water’s contractors arrived on site on the very day that the Peak Park Planning Committee were discussing the planning applications. As park officers were advising the committee of the special qualities of the landscape and the recreational value of the rights of way here and in particular the bridleways, Yorkshire Water’s men in hi viz were tipping large amounts of a concrete like aggregate on the bridleways surface,blinding it in with rollers and in effect making a nice smooth road to Bartin & Greaves farmsteads.

Joined up thinking between our public bodies? The peak park, Kirklees Council and even various sections within the Council would appear to not so much know what the left hand is doing but are completely unaware they have a left hand or even an arm with it on. The only people who are on the ball here are Yorkshire Water/Kelder Group.

Moving on to to the material used to resurface the bridleway. It does look and have the consistency of a dry concrete mix but I am assured by Kirklees who are assured by Yorkshire Water that there is no cement in with the aggregate. The stone used although grey and very sticky is, I’m assured by Kirklees who are assured by Yorkshire Water, sandstone from a quarry at Tingley. Very reassuring.

This stone is inappropriate for surfacing a sandstone bridleway. It looks like concrete and has ruined the aesthetics of these historic bridleways which have been largely untouched since the time of the enclosures when they were built.  The bridleways did not require any resurfacing and were more than adequate for their normal traffic of agricultural vehicles and recreational use by the public. They were not however in a fit state to provide vehicular access to any future residents of Bartin & Greaves Farms nor would they look very good to any planning inspector involved in a planning appeal.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but isn’t required here as what’s going on is so blindingly obvious. If the public reported illegal surfacing works on a bridleway which gives the only access to 2 properties subject to 2 very contentious planning applications it’s pretty plain what is going on. All Kirklees had to do was stop the works and advise that no further works were to be undertaken. How hard can it be?

Regular readers might be noticing a pattern by now in how Kirklees behaves in regard to its responsibilities on public rights of way. Uppermost in the Council’s corporate mind should be its duty to assert and protect public rights but in the short time I’ve been writing this blog this has been largely absent. The Council are only to willing to consult the Kirklees Infinite Book of Excuses when a member of the public reports a problem on a right of way, and austerity has been a godsend for them in this respect, whilst at the same time they cannot bend over far enough for anyone sailing close to the wind or acting illegally on those very same public rights of way.

 

 

 

 

Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189. Who to contact.

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If like me you think what has been done to Holmfirth Bridleways 68 & 189 is out of order you could email the Chair of the Peak District National Park Planning Committee Councillor Paul Ancell , Head of Planning at the Peak District National Park John Scott and the man in charge of Rights of Way at Kirklees Rob Dalby and tell them what you think and what you’d like them to do. It’s what we pay them for so don’t be shy.

paul.ancell@peakdistrict.gov.uk

john.scott@peakdistrict.gov.uk

rob.dalby@kirklees.gov.uk

 

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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Bartin Greave 3 (1 of 1)
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!

Carr Farm Gates Holmfirth 71 (1 of 1)
Acceptable from a Highways point of view.