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.
The Washpit Mills planning proposal for 50 plus houses and a gym in this peaceful Holme Valley backwater was predictably waved through by councillors on the Huddersfield Planning sub committee of 8th March. The Labour chair of the committee did the deed with his casting vote condoning continued obstruction of a long established public right of way through the site along with a requirement for locals to hang onto their wellies for the foreseeable future if they wish to paddle along Footpath 195.
In stark contrast to the cynicism displayed by labour councillors, yet again dumping on the Holme Valley, local residents who spoke to the committee were eloquent in their arguments against the proposals. Their considered words were of course completely ignored by our democratic representatives who only obey the Red Lord from Heckmondwike,Darth Sheard. He wishes to build, build, build -not affordable houses that are needed by local people but, in effect, a “council tax farm” to keep his empire afloat.
Local tory councillor Nigel Patrick had something of a “fight them on the beaches/Winston Churchill” moment calling out his own Highways officers who he suggested (with some justification) of “not looking at the same roads as me.”Describing how he worked closely with planners and highways officers Cllr Patrick described the report as “a slap in the face” and said he felt “let down”. Clearly the implication was that in all his meetings with planners and highways officers they’d not bothered to mention they were going to do the dirty on him when it came to committee.
He had a very telling point regarding a proposed footway which will have a dropped kerb to allow vehicles and HGV’s in particular to …er…. drive over it! “It’s total and utter nonsense,it’s pure fantasy a fairytale ” he continued. And he is right.
The problem with such committees in Kirklees is that they vote on party political lines and if Jones Homes or Wimpey came in and wanted the first born of every family in a tory ward before building so much as a garden shed our gormless labour councillors would oblige.
This approach is leading to the disregard and ruin of a significant proportion of the local rights of way network and countryside.If a local councillor of whatever persuasion can say in public that “I’m embarrassed to be associated with this council” then there really is something seriously wrong.
On a lighter note veteran Cllr Ken Simms described the sharp suited developers as “thinking we’re all daft and wear flat caps and clogs” He forgot the whippets and mine is rather offended.
Whilst residents of Kirklees battle with harsh winter weather,cuts in services,blocked public footpaths and a 6% rise in council tax the council’s comedy deputy leader has been spotted at a developers jamboree in Cannes. The stunning French resort certainly looks a better bet than Huddersfield in March so maybe Cllr Pandor is not as daft as he makes out?
Cllr Panodor and his delegation are attending the world’s leading property and investment event according to the local paper in an attempt to attract more developers to Kirklees and build 10,000 homes in the next 10 years. Why the council felt the need to send him to France (unless they wanted a break from him for a bit) is a mystery as there are developers in almost every greenfield in the district at the moment.
It does rather highlight the councils desperation to jump into bed with sharp suited developers whose priorities are perhaps not altogether altruistic. As can be seen from the current planning chaos in Kirklees private developers want greenfield sites to build expensive houses and maximise profits whereas what is actually needed in Kirklees is affordable new builds (average asking price in HD9 is over £350k) and social housing. Not really going to find that in Cannes are we?
I suspect the council prefer the £350k type residents and the council tax they can milk them for but that doesn’t look so good in public for a labour run council.
All this high flying and gadding about is quite a contrast to the daily grind of excuses,evasion and platitudes which emanate from kirklees when residents ask for a footpath to be maintained or an obstruction to be cleared. Suddenly the cupboard is bare.
The lovely Holmfirth Footpath 31 which is so characteristic of an unspoilt public path in the valley has found itself in the last chance saloon as Miller Homes appeal the refusal of this planning application. The informal hearing is to be held on 20th March 2018 at the Town Hall Huddersfield.
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – Section 78 Appeal by Tim Williams, Miller Homes Limited Site at Land off Woodhead Road, Brockholes, Holmfirth Planning Reference: 2017/93326 Appeal Reference: APP/Z4718/W/17/3191803
The Hearing into this matter has now been arranged and will be held on Tuesday, 20 March 2018 at Huddersfield Town Hall, Corporation Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2TU commencing at 10.00am
Interesting example in the correspondence between Kirklees Highways/Planning departments and the developer involved with a planning application at Berry Greave,Marsden of public paths being ignored in the planning process. Colne Valley Footpath 192 is directly affected by the proposal here as it provides the only access to the site. It would seem reasonable therefore that highways development control would be looking at the effects of the intensification of use by residential traffic likely to be caused by these proposals and where possible asking for steps to mitigate this.
From reading the correspondence it appears that Kirklees have started out by asking for passing places to be constructed on the access (Colne Valley Footpath 192) which given the lane is not wide enough for cars to pass and also carries pedestrians would seem reasonable. Unfortunately the developer thinks this is “overkill” says “Boo!” and this request is dropped with rather undue haste.
At no time is Colne Valley Public Footpath 192 mentioned other than when it is incorrectly called a road. This is despite the fact that Planning have received public comments about Footpath 192 and the development.
A second planning application which directly affects Colne Valley Footpath 192 has now been received by Kirklees. The only access to the Hey Cottages site is via the public footpath. Of course Kirklees could have already secured improvements to protect footpath users and accommodate an increase in residential traffic via the previous planning application had it not been so timid. As it stands I’ve no doubt both proposals will be waived through to the detriment of public access.
And so it goes across the entire 700 odd miles of public rights of way in Kirklees. A slow attrition of the quality of paths and the walking experience in favour of the car and making a quick buck.
It looks like the developers have added an altogether slicker operator to present the second attempt to develop Washpit Mills. Bit of a shame as I rather liked the hapless “I don’t know what you’ve got to do” honesty of the last one !
In the new application for some 51 houses we are spoilt for choice with information running to some 40 plans and 8 supporting documents including a 187 page transport assessment!
Oddly there is only a cryptic mention of the public right of way which runs through the site. This has been used by vehicles,horses,cyclists and walkers for as long as the mill has been there. It was of course blocked off immediately the developer took over the site which is what you’d expect. As the route is not recorded on Kirklees weird and wonderful Definitive Map it is open to abuse on two counts 1) Closure by the landowner (tick) and 2) Any claim made to add the path to the Definitive Map being parked up at Her Majesty’s pleasure on the Councils rather badly named “Priority List” (oh another tick there too).
So the access road within the development will be built over a longstanding public right of way. This is described in the transport assessment as “The new access roads and all communal areas within the site are to remain privately maintained will be covered by an appropriate legal agreement. Current lawful rights of access through the complex are respected and will be retained. ” Not so clear if this means public or private rights of access?
In the old proposal I’m sure there was an undertaking to fund improvement work to Holmfirth Footpath 195 which runs from opposite the site through to Dunford Road and the bus stop but this seems to have been dropped. Whilst the new transport assessment waxes lyrically about “Walking stimulates both personal health and the health of communities and local economies. Government health improvement advice states that just 30 minutes brisk walking 5 times a week can bring about significant reductions in the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes” and “the site can be accessed via the public rights of way network which provides an alternative part segregated pedestrian route that are available to Holmfirth”
Whilst I wouldn’t want reality to get in the way I think it’s fair to say Holmfirth Footpath 195 is unusable by future residents living the green dream and wishing to head off to work in their office clothes via the path and onwards from the bus stop. It’s a quagmire to be avoided between the end of August and mid July. Neglected by the council and suffering from a year round land drainage problem unless you’ve a good pair of wellies and a change of clothes I’d give it a miss.
The relentless,ruthless and very hungry planning free for all in Kirklees continues munching it’s way through every unguarded green space in the district. A plague of sharp suits, hard hats,indifference and dodgy money from the dark side devours all before it. Only terrified councillors and planning officials stripped naked of conviction and caught in the headlights of the monster are there to protect what’s left….Ok a bit OTT but it’s not good.
Here’s the latest batch of precious paths up for the chop. None of them mentioned in any of the applications despite being clearly advertised as affecting a right of way.
How hard can it be for Kirklees officials to secure a thorough consideration by developers of public paths affected by their proposals? It may be that if they did this work to mitigate some of the negative impacts of development on paths could be secured, funds to improve the path network nearby by could be banked and even new paths squeezed out of them where possible.