From Andrew Hall
I notice that plans have now been submitted for holiday houses near Jack Bridge in the Colden Valley.
From John & Sylvia Hagan
Having lived on the Kebs for twelve years our two boys went to Colden Junior School then to Mytholmroyd School. We strongly oppose this application for a holiday eco-park at Blackshawhead.
We have motored along these roads at all times of the day, during all weathers and have at times found it hazardous: the roads are narrow in places and accidents would likely increase. Building another thirty homes for up to one hundred and eighty persons would add to the already, at times, busy road conditions; which, incidentally, is frequently used by slow moving farm vehicles.
The access roads from the north and east pass through Hebden Bridge as do those from the south and west: they all converge on Hebden Bridge then on through Slack or up the steeps via Blackshawhead. This small town already suffers severe bottlenecks. They need no more.
The proposed development on fields between Brown Hill Bottom and Higher Murgatshaw Farm would endanger the wild life and spoil the unique and historic beauty on this special landscape area: except for one bungalow all local dwellings were built from the 15th century to the early 19th century.
The chimneys and sun pipes would need to protrude from the turf roof. Our experience of wood burning stoves would suggest that there are likely be problems on the proposed north-facing hillside because of turbulence at low distances from the ground.
Currently the quiet rural community experiences very little crime. That could easily change with an extra one hundred and eighty visitors. More noise, more litter, some accidental and deliberate destruction of the dry stonewalls are likely outcomes. We know: we have experienced all these!
Please do not allow developers to urbanise regions designated as “Special Landscape Area”. They are too precious.
From Paul Dally
The deadline for opposing this horrendous application with Calderdale Council is 23 March 2007.
Can I urge everyone who treasures the natural beauty of the Colden Valley to lodge an individual objection with Calderdale Council. please help in protecting the countryside within this area for its own sake
From Jenny Greenwood
Copy of a letter of objection written and sent to the Council:
I have already signed a letter of protest and added my own comment to the effect that this proposed development will surely defeat its own object since people visit this valley for its peace and tranquillity – which the development will take away.
However I want expand on my comment and provide further information to back up my objection. I believe that this development would have serious detrimental effects on Colden and the people who live and work here.
My husband was born and bred on a small hill-farm above Colden. Hill farming in these parts is and always has been a precarious living, and winters were harsh. He did not take over his father’s farm but went to work “down in Hebden (Bridge)” in the clothing manufacturing industry. This way of life had had its day by the late 1970s, as we all know. He now makes an honest living doing small-scale buildings maintenance and repairs, painting and decorating, and outdoor work such as gardening and walling, using skills he learned on the farm where he grew up. Thus he is typical of many local people who managed to remain in this area: he has been able to survive the changing fortunes of the times by adapting, diversifying, carrying skills learned over into another way of earning a living, and so he has managed to continue to live his life on this beautiful hillside which is part of his soul. He is 62 years old. His family name itself speaks of generations who have lived and died here.
I moved here in 1984 and immediately found a peace in the quiet way of life here. I have never wanted to live anywhere else since the day I arrived, and cannot imagine that I ever will.
This morning we woke up to snow: the surrounding fields and moors are white. My first thought was S- (the farmer whose fields surround our cottage) knows what he is doing: his sheep have not lambed yet. Of course they haven’t - almost without fail we seem to get a hefty dollop of snow in mid March and winter begins all over again. This year has been mild and so it seems that winter only really arrived last night – but the snow fell so thick and fast that cars were turning back or being abandoned on the road up the hill through Lee Wood from Hebden Bridge. Of course S- knows that this happens most years in March: hill-farmers round here survive in their precarious existence by taking notice not just of “the seasons” in a broad sense as a town-dweller might imagine, but by detailed, intimate, working knowledge of how the seasons affect our particular hillside and each of their individual fields in their farming, over years and years, generations and generations.
Hill farming is still a precarious living. My husband’s father’s place is no longer farmed – the fate of many small farms round here. Those farming families who continue to survive do so by sheer persistence, ingenuity – and luck. If something were to tip the economic balance adversely, it would be a different story.
May’s Shop at Highgate Farm is a good example of diversification – the winner of many “Farm Shop of the Year” awards over the years. May’s is the only shop for miles and is an important resource for the community, supplying locals and visitors - including walkers on the Pennine Way and the many other footpaths in the locality.
Bed & Breakfast Accommodation for visitors is another valuable sideline enabling others to continue to survive. In this locality, visitor accommodation is generally a much-needed second income, enabling families to continue to survive in their existing way of life when times are hard.
The beauty of this for the visitor is that they get a taste of a genuinely rural way of life: for example they delight in seeing the lambs in the fields. We who live up here and know just how precarious a way of life hill farming is know that, were the balance of life up here to be changed – as it would indeed by this proposed development – the visitors would no longer see the very things they come here to see!
I ran a small B&B for some years, and still have the Guest Book in which my visitors wrote their comments. I was busy, and it was all “word of mouth” business. Many of my guests returned regularly, bringing friends and family with them. Invariably, their comments and their reason for coming were to do with enjoying a taste of a “different life” – the home cooking, the “real” (open) fires, the beautiful views from the windows, and the peace, tranquility, and life lived in tune with the seasons of nature. Many conversations with my guests over the years revealed a common theme: many people are living lives quite out of touch with nature, the seasons, the traditional ways of farming and so on. This is stressful, but necessary, and indeed most guests admitted they would miss the modern conveniences of their urban lives if they were to give them up. But they were able to “remain sane” (I quote or paraphrase the actual words of many of my guests over the years) by having – and in the secure knowledge that they could look forward to having again – those few days once in a while as guests in our way of life out here, where they could “touch base” (again, I quote or paraphrase the actual words many).
If this development went ahead, there would be many, many losses as a direct result.
In a “Holiday Village”, visitors / holidaymakers rub shoulders not with local people living a rural life, but – in the main – with other holidaymakers like themselves. If they have come out here hoping to taste the rural life, they will be disappointed.
We find that most visitors attracted to this area over the years – and certainly those who return again and again (forming the basis of a staple income for those of our community who run the B&Bs) – are “independent travellers” who seek out, wherever and in whatever country they are visiting, small scale visitor accommodation with local families in rural or other traditional communities. They come here precisely because it is not a holiday village.
If the proposed holiday village development goes ahead”, then its existence will deter these visitors who have previously been attracted to our local area. Local B&Bs will therefore suffer declining trade. Our local shop (May’s) may also suffer declining visitor trade if the self-catering holiday-makers bring carloads of provisions with them from their own local supermarkets – whereas our current local B&B guest and day visitors walking these moors use May’s shop to supply their packed lunch needs.
Local farming will thus be affected adversely since this precarious living depends on economic diversification: a decline in visitors could tip the balance unfavourably for many and perhaps fatally for some. Even if the holiday village development proves to be a “flop”, and not as busy as the owner hopes, the damage to the existing local economy will already have been done.
Thus we can realistically expect that this development would be detrimental to the pre-existing local economy, perhaps – because that economy is so fragile and vulnerable – resulting in a total loss of economically viable farming and other local livelihoods. This in turn would also result in the loss of a much-valued haven of peace for our existing visitors (remembering that for many of them these visits, in their own words, “keep them sane”).
I have looked at the economic and human-life impact of this development proposal, drawing on my own areas of experience of living and working here. This is by no means a comprehensive breakdown of all the reasons to object to and deny permission for this development. There are also many and valid concerns for the detrimental impact the development would have on the natural environment itself, the wildlife – both flora and fauna – and the local infrastructure. I trust that others will have addressed these and other issues in their letters.
We are a mixed community at Colden: not all of us live what could be called traditional lives, not many of us nowadays live off the land. Economic realities have forced many who grew up in local hill-farming to find other ways of earning a living. Some of the empty farms and cottages were bought by people from outside of the area, from towns and cities: people who earn their living in a diversity of ways. What unites us is a deep love for and connection with the land, the place, the community, the way of life that is Colden, that we call Home, and that visitors call Sanity.
You will receive letters from people of widely differing skills and life–experience, which is good because they will inform you, in their many different ways from their many different perspectives, of the potential threats to the life of our small community. You will receive letters from people whose families have lived here for generations – and from people who have lived here for only a short time. You will hear from locals who live in Colden itself, and you will hear from people living in the wider area who like to walk here regularly. And you will also hear from people whose addresses show them to live far away but please do not be persuaded by the developer that theirs are not valid opinions, for as I have attempted to point out, Colden is dear in the hearts of many who have visited over the years and they too have something to say – and play an important role in our local life and economy.
We are told in the press nowadays that “rural life” is under threat. We trust that you will take note of our letters, and that you will do all in your power to deter those threats to our way of life in Colden.
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
This is a lovely and very well written letter, it is unfortunate that all of these fine words are somewhat wasted, since they do not seem to convey any kind of valid (in planning terms) objection to the development.
I have heard tale that the council have received objection letters from such venerated public figures as Mr. Michael Mouse and Mr. H.J. Simpson. I wonder who would be responsible? And who might benefit as a result?
Posted by Michael Horne
I have just read Jenny Greenwood's eloquent and superbly written letter. She perfectly encapsulates the beauty and fragility of the Colden valley and its uplands. The points that Jenny makes, especially regarding the local economy are particularly pertinent to objections to the proposed so-called 'eco' development.
My partner and myself are residents of Colden,love this valley and uplands, and both vehemently oppose any attempts to destroy it.
Neither of us earn our living on or from the land, but realise and are appreciative of the fact that if it were not for the people that do, much of what we love about our local environment would soon disappear - to the loss of residents, visitors and all.
Of course it is important that our objections address the particular criteria for planning decison purposes. But also important is the expression of what this area maens to those of us who cherish and want to protect it.
Thank you Jenny.
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
Well, I tried to resist commenting on this again, but...
I have been stunned and truly disppointed by the presumptious claims being presented as facts relating to this application. Let me repeat again that I am not supporting the development, but neither am I prepared to oppose and reject it based upon spurious claims and anecdotal evidence.
There are dozens to choose from, and I'd like to deal with each in turn, but here's a few of my particular favourites until I can get a little more time to write.
Where on earth are the alleged 180 extra visitors resulting from this development going to be staying? There's 30 dwellings, so even if they were all occupied, all of the time, this still assumes that each of them will house 6 people! Have the statistics for the size of the average family suddenly shot up when I wasn't looking? And given the mix of accommodation, where will 6 people sleep in the five number studio and twenty number 2 bed units?
Concrete is bad? Assuming that is true, why are the objectors not opposing all newbuild projects, since all of them (with only very few exceptions) will be using it to build with? Concrete with a high fly ash content has incredible thermal mass properties and as such, when combined with effective insulation, can vastly improve the thermal performance of new buildings and lower energy requirements. Why is that so bad? Yes, traditionally, concrete production consumed a lot of energy, but modern production methods and alternative materials such as increasing the fly ash content have greatly reduced this.
Crime? Other than the residents of Colden, it would appear that everyone else are criminals intent on wreaking noisy, and litter-strewn havoc on quiet villages. How insulting is that? As insulting and xenophobic as suggesting that only those currently living in Colden are worthy or able to integrate with the community?
Exactly how thirty holiday homes can "urbanise" an area is beyond my understanding. And where do you build holiday homes anyway? Bradford? Greenfield sites are currently being developed up and down the country. Yes, they are only a tiny fraction compared to brownfield, but any suggestion that passing this application would see developmers run amok decimating greenfield areas is utterly preposterous. The planning department does not operate like a court of law where precedants are set and then used to govern the outcome of similar cases.
I also fail to understand the prediction of local economic catastrophe. Why would May's suddenly see a decline in business as a result of this development? Because visitors to the area would decline due to thirty holiday homes nobody will ever be likely to see? This is utter nonsense. Same for the B&B's and any other local business. Again, assumptions are being made that owners and residents of these homes will have no interest in the community or in using the facilities (few thou they are) which are available. Were such a development in existence would the New Delight or The Sportsman still have faced closure due to lack of business?
And the "severe" traffic bottlenecks in Blackshawhead are something I have yet to witness despite having used this road regularly and at all times of the day over the past five years. That said, there would obviously be an increase in traffic, but in real terms how significant an increase would that be?
Finally (well, for the time being anyway) mother nature is incredibly resilient and self-healing and would easily recover from any damage made to the surrounding flora and fauna of Colden Valley as a result of this development. From reading many of the posts on this matter you would think that the area faced some kind of post-apocalyptic future instead!
From Phil Howitt
Perhaps you should read the full application, Jonny...
It is Mr Plantagenet who claims that there will be accommodation for 180 people, not the objectors.
It is also his claim that the development will 'IMPROVE the wildlife corridor' - difficult to see how a year's worth of construction and filling an area with homes and internal access roads could possibly do that...
As for traffic issues, talk to the residents of Blackshaw Head who have been campaigning against speeding and accidents at the top of this road for a while now - the development cannot possibly do anything than increase traffic and exacerbate the problem. The bend on which access to the site will occur is sharp, steep and limited in visibility for turning - and that's in good weather.
Marascalco is surely being ironic when he says that 'he tried to resist'? Nine paragraphs of rhetoric, refuting valid objections - from an objectors point of view - is hardly the voice of ambivalence, or one that doesn't support the development. Would you be kind enough to tell us your opinion of the development Mr Marascalco - rather than moaning about other peoples opinions?
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
Phil, can you tell me which of the documents contains this particular figure relating to accommodation? In any case, this is undoubtedly a figure which indicates the absolute maximum number of people (not residents) who could occupy the place at one time based upon the area, possibly for licensing purposes. Given the accommodation mix, this figure cannot possibly relate to the number of people living there, which is how it is being portrayed, and not as a maximum but as a normal day to day count.
The site is pasture land, pretty much a plain old field. Hardly the Garden of Eden being described here.
And I think if you re-read my comment you will notice that I made no mention of accidents or speeding. I referred to the claim of "severe traffic bottlenecks".
I said "neither am I prepared to oppose and reject it based upon spurious claims and anecdotal evidence".
Call me crazy, but I try to avoid forming an opinion as a knee-jerk reaction to carefully selected soundbites, many of which (especially prior to the actual planning submission) are presumptious and highly spurious. I like to see both sides of the discussion being fairly represented before I make my decision.
Do you understand what rhetoric is Jacob? Perhaps you would be kind enough to explain where my post contains this rhetoric? It does contain rhetorical questions, but that is not quite the same thing, is it?
And thank you for confirming that I refuted (look it up) the objections. Oxymoronic as your statement is, I'll take it anyway.
From Phil Howitt
Accommodation numbers are specified in section 3.2 of the second supporting document on this site.
In the document, the developer draws attention to each of the potential objections (e.g. traffic, wildlife, buses, accommodation needs, strain on utilities, landscape, local economy) and tries (unconvincingly in my eyes, on at least ten issues) to turn these negatives into positives.
This is a very revealing document and perhaps one people on this forum should be concentrating on if they have genuine concerns one way or another about this application.
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
Thank you Phil.
This figure is clearly the absolute maximum amount of people the scheme could accommodate at any given time, and not as I said, the average day-to-day number of people present as has been protrayed. Specifying this figure as the maximum occupation possible is hugely different to using it to represent the number of people actually occupying the development. This is misleading, and does not even take into the account the fact that the units are unlikely be occupied 100% of the time.
Take a reality check is basically what I am saying.
refute ... contradict a statement without disproving it. Look it up.
Said rhetorically, without evidence and purely for effect:
I ask you again, do you have an opinion about this development? Or do you only hold opinions about other people's opinions?
I don’t know if Johnny has an opinion about this issue or not, but I think he has a right to look into other people’s opinions a bit more deeply if he wishes – whatever his reasons - and I for one am glad that somebody does. Personally, I am against the development, but I’m glad that someone has pointed out that letters such as Jenny’s probably won’t hold much sway with the planning department. If Johnny can find flaws in the argument then so can the developers. And that if protestors focus on issues like ‘severe traffic bottlenecks’ based on an overestimate of the likely number of visitors, rather than real dangers like access on a tricky bend, just where school kids are walking home, then they are unlikely to be successful. Surely, it’s important to have our opinions challenged?
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
Thank you Anne, at last someone with the intellect to recognise the merit of seeing both sides of an argument and being able to accept a challenge to one's point of view without losing the plot.
Jacob, I don't know where you're getting your definitions of refute or rhetoric from, and frankly I don't really care. We can only agree to disagree, since I am not the least bit interested in engaging in a debate about semantics with you. In truth, I think you're still smarting from my response to your posts on the subject of clamping at Grange Dene.
I admit that I was wrong about the location of the bottlenecks, but this does not change the fact that points of objection which focus on the impact the development will have on traffic are for dramatic effect and are not based on any kind of substantial evidence.
From Andrew Hall
Whatever anyones opinions, the deadline for objections is now over, the die is cast, and the wheels of local government are slowly grinding into action. Surely the time for vitriolic, lengthy and intransigent posts is over for the time being.
From Phil Howitt
Well said, Jacob.
Today is the last date for possible objections to the development.
That should be the focus of this posting, not pandering to the whims of this forum's most regular poster, the king of pedantics and semantics. Look through this entire forum - you'll see a trend. Once Mr Marascalco starts to initiate some posts and show some concern for the community he presumably lives in, rather than wait for a subject to develop then routinely object to others genuine concerns, then I'll have a bit more respect for him - in this particular case he hasn't even read the planning application. But ... whoops, I've fallen into his trap.
The documents for this proposal are all there on this very website - you can see them for yourself. Today could be your last chance to stop it.
I agree Anne. However, there is no need for opinions to be challenged antagonistcally.
Today is the deadline for objections. They can be made online on the Calderdale Council website, which is www.calderdale.gov.uk
Have the council really received objection letters from Michael Mouse and H J Simpson?
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
Fine. You guys can happily pat each other on the back and congratulate yourselves on a job well done, but I have yet to see either of you initiate a discussion thread.
You may not like what I say, or agree with it, but it does have substance and it is relevant.
I think what disappoints me most about the organised campaign against this development is the insistance that it should be opposed "in any form". This essentially means that if a developer was to propose a genuinely eco-friendly scheme for holiday accommodation, which minimised impact on the local environment and was sensitive to it's surroundings, and which pioneered green and sustainable architecture, it would still be opposed. If the scheme bent over backwards to be a shining example of progressive thinking on rural regeneration policy and was supportive of the local economic climate, it would still be opposed.
That is a sad state of affairs in my opinion. So there, you got an opinion from me regarding this development.
That one phrase alone may even reveal an agenda which simply aims to keep Colden for Colden people, and that does not reflect the kind of community I would wish to be part of.
Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Jacob wrote: "refute ... contradict a statement without disproving it."
On the contrary. To refute is to prove the falsity of a statement, to rebut or repel by argument. (Concise Oxford Dictionary)
I only comment because I have met too many folk who think that they can simply deny something and therefore win their case. They haven't. Refutation requires a detailed rebuttal by evidence or argument, not simple denial.
Your definition is of denial rather than refutation.
And whatever the technicalities of planning requirements, I think Jenny is right.
Planning Watch - where you can object or comment online
Previous forum thread: Octo 06 - Feb 07
Hebweb News: Tuesday, 6 March 2007
Posted by Tom Standfield
Searching for the developer, "Ian Plantagenet" on Google does not reveal very much - except an entry on a lonely hearts page: the New Age Connections page. He describes himself as "very shamanic" saying he would like to meet someone "spritually inclined with similar interests and feminine caring nature".
So he finds himself a community full of people who are genuine environmentalists and new age types, and does the one thing that would unite them all against him. No wonder he's single! Sounds like he might benefit from some of the local therapy, or perhaps even some handsfree massage.
From Patsy F
Oh, Tom! Don'cha just love it! I suppose Mr Plantagenet needs lots of time and space to further develop his shamanic (emphasis on manic?) skills. Maybe he hopes to buy a small Scottish island with the proceeds of the sale of the Colden site?
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
Publicly lambasting a person for the impact of their commercial interests is one thing, but scandalmongering gossip which focuses on a persons private affairs is quite another.
Who among the posters on this forum would bear a similar kind of close scrutiny and derision of their personal life by those who have great antipathy towards them?
Not a sinner in sight it would seem.
Just to attempt to add a couple of facts into the arguement:
- On what expertise are you offering up the insight that the area would 'easily recover' from the construction of 30 houses and roads? Though nature can be pretty resiliant, the area in question would be permanently changed by any man-made development there. I know, because I conducted a survey of it, and do so on a regular basis in this exact habitat. Can you imagine 30 holiday homes with kids/dogs/cars etc, and their gardens still occupied by breeding curlew, lapwing, skylark and brown hare? I don't think so.
- Secondly, the proposed development site, far from being a 'plain old field', is classified as upland pasture. This is a habitat highlighted as extremely precious and worthy of the highest protection by conservation organisations such as the RSPB.
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
OK Dave, let's see your expert survey of that particular area then.
If, as you are suggesting, this land is already protected by the RSPB then I wholeheartedly agree. If you are saying "it is worthy of" protecting, then that is your personal opinion and is not quite the same thing.
From Patsy F
Well, surprise, surprise, it’s JohnnyM - I was half expecting you on the ‘anonymity’ thread above, but no, here you are again! There was I, thinking you’d gone to ground for a while. I should’ve known better, shouldn’t I?
Quote - ‘but scandalmongering gossip which focuses on a persons private affairs is quite another.’
PF - When a person freely posts anything on any site on the internet it becomes sort of public property doesn’t it? You must realise that - why else do some people use an alias and hotmail address?
Quote - ‘Who among the posters on this forum would bear a similar kind of close scrutiny and derision of their personal life by those who have great antipathy towards them?’
PF - Don’t know, JohnnyM - you tell me. If we all declared who we really are, we could look each other up on Google and then we might learn a thing or two. As for antipathy - well, isn't that something that people usually earn by their actions - - or words? :-) .
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
I think you are slightly off topic Patsy.
Ever heard of the phrase "witch hunt"?
I am still waiting for the action group (or anyone else) to explain one of their main points of objection to this development. It's use of concrete.
In my opinion, this has misled the public. Anyone who has objected to the scheme on the understanding that using concrete is bad and therefore this scheme is bad as a result, has done so on a false premise.
Bill Dunster, the architect who pioneers Zero (fossil) Energy Development (ZED), has used concrete extensively on leading sustainable eco-architecture projects such as the renowned Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED). This 'mass and glass' development is widely recognised (notably, by the government, the architectural community and the Building Research Establishment) as one of the most groundbreaking sustainable architectural projects in the country. And yet, it uses concrete, and lots of it.
Surely, given the fact that the design of this project will also preclude the need for many other building materials which have a very high level of embodied energy, the suggestion that concrete is bad in this case is a complete fallacy.