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. The path was flagged up in the planning application itself by the applicant who’s proposals clearly required and asked for diversion of Footpath 60. 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 80 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.


Kirklees Question Time

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Apparently it’s national democracy week! Whilst it’s not quite going to reach the exhilarating heights of England’s World Cup run  I thought it worth asking a question on the state of the rights of way network at a question time  event with the political big cheeses at Kirklees.

My question is at about 40 minutes 48 seconds in and gets off to a slightly weird start as Cllr Hall talks at some length about the state of the roads in Kirklees and his days as a cabinet member! I didn’t expect much but I’ve made a mental note to lower the expectation bar a for the future.

Cllr Cooper was altogether more thoughtful in his answer but fell into the trap of blaming a “lack of resources” and stating that these obstructions will not get sorted because of this.

The Council had resources when the 1064 obstructions were built up prior to 2007. Resources have never been the problem. It is the management culture within the Council that constantly fuels expensive cock ups.

If Cllr Cooper has any doubt about this assertion I’d invite him to read “As the compromise has no legal standing it is of course open to challenge” and the FOI linked to it. This issue should have been sorted out 5 years ago but remains ongoing . It has become something of a sump for public resources to drain into. Surely council cash spent on making ultra vires agreements with landowners against the public interest would be better spent on….well doing what the Council are funded to do?

The cost of doing nothing.  Is another hugely expensive cock up generated by the Council which remains unresolved. The public funds which have gone into achieving nowt here could probably have strimmed the path network for 2 or 3 summers.

Clayton Fields – Peak Parody? Continues to rumble on with more public resources draining away in an attempt to deal with public path claims which the Council has sat on for over 20 years!

Holmfirth Footpath 150 at Gate Head shows how the Council happily sends staff out year after year to inspect problems it already knows exist and then does nothing about them.

And of course the Planning Department have their own state of the art Cock Up Generator which can’t help but chuck a spanner in the works as in Holmfirth Bridleway 154 and Planning Condition 4 This should have been a simple enforcement issue for planning but instead it was palmed off to Highways who sent bridge engineers on site and then rights of way staff had it dumped on them and still there is no resolution.

My one and only suggestion is that Kirklees unplug the Cock Up Generators for a trial period and deal with matters as per their own policies and statutory obligations. Get someone to keep a track of things with a calculator and just see how it goes.

We could do with a friendly Councillor to suggest this…..


Washpit Mills – A Missed Opportunity

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Holmfirth Bridleway 154 – Ox Lee Lane

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Road scalpings washing out

The state of Ox Lee Lane, Holmfirth Bridleway 154 was  highlighted previously  here and here .Predictably, and for similar reasons to yesterdays bridleway disaster , it has deteriorated rapidly with extensive water erosion washing gullies into the surface.

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Sandstone surface washing out
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Deep gullies down to sub base
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An assortment of brick and concrete. Even this crap is washing away.

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