Discussion Forum

Trouble At Delph:
A Garden Shed Too Far?

Posted by Kevin Crum,
Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Walking up Windsor Road, pause just before you proceed onto Windsor View and look upwards and to your right. Without to much trouble about half way up the hill next to and overlooking the Village Green you will see a large incompleted structure with uprights made of telephone poles and a large flat roof of approx. 21m.sq. The builder of this structure plans to use this 21m.sq. area as a roof garden. The structure is about 3.25m.sq. high. The roof garden is perched on top of almost 14m.sq. of ground floor accomodation divided between a large comfortable inside room fronted by a well appointed verandah with commanding views overlooking Hebden Bridge with front row seats onto Windsor Road from roof and verandah and first class views in all directions from the imaginative roof garden. Sounds delightful.

A shed too far?

Well this imposing structure is the subject of: RETROSPECTIVE PLANNING APPLICATION 03/0028/FUL Communal garden shelter.

Sited in the Steepfield Allotments parallel to Windsor Road.

I am strongly in favour of: REFUSAL OF PLANNING PERMISSION FOR Communal garden shelter 03/00288/FUL.

I will be presenting my reasons and discoveries in this forum and other places as the story develops. I have become deeply interested in this and other Steepfield related stuff as a result of the notification that accompanied the need for the owner of Communal garden shelter to seek retrospective planning permission for his Dacha like structure. So that's a couple of months.

A shed too far?

If you are interested in issues related to Planning, Open Spaces, Community Resources, Allotments and Cultural Activism I would urge you to look into this matter and see what you think about it. I believe the time is long over do for having this discussion in a public forum.

If you already feel that you wish to oppose this application and lobby for enforcement and removal of the building if Planning permission is refused by Calderdale Council and would like to work with others who feel similar you can contact 'Village Green' by emailing to Steepfield@hotmail.com Watch this space for more information and please join the discussion whatever your opinion.

Posted by Peter Verney,
Friday, May 2, 2003

Here's what I wrote to the Steep Fields Association back in November last year. It was intended to explain what was going on.

Gimme Shelter?

You may have noticed a mini-"Ground Force" operation going on in my allotment, with a mysterious shape looming up at the end of the garden. If you've wondered about it, but haven't met the perpetrators, let me try to explain.

What is it?

It's intended to be a potting shed, with an earth roof for growing plants on. Strawberries, nasturtiums and wild flowers -- low maintenance stuff. The idea is to share with a couple of neighbours a place to put garden tools and sacks of compost, hang onions and start seedlings. Think of it as an ordinary-sized shed under an extraordinarily wide roof.

Why is it going in that spot?

Because that's where there have been generations of greenhouses, and is set into a steep cut in the hillside, so it's almost like an earth shelter. The old base of the greenhouse I inherited when I moved in is still there, and it's the best use I could make of the area.

What's wrong with the area?

Glass. I've carted away binloads of broken glass from the site in the seven years I've been here, and yet I'm still pulling out fragments and getting cut by the tiny shards in the soil. It's too dangerous to grow things in or mess about with. The idea is that the wooden floor will sit over the existing brieze block and cement foundations and cover the worst-affected part of the land. Then the plants can go safely up on the top, in fresh loam and compost. (As well as hanging down the sides, or sitting in pots and propagators).

Why isn't it another greenhouse?

Because they're evidently accident-prone around here. Any glass left outdoors risks getting broken, it seems, and I'd really like to avoid that. A potting shed can be safely shuttered and locked without any exposed glass.

Why not a polytunnel, which was the previous allotment-holder's dream?

An aversion to plastic, not to mention the expense. And they're hardly pretty. Which this will be - eventually. When it's draped with flowers and vegetation, the aim is that it should disappear as far as possible by blending in with its surroundings. More trees will complete the shielding.

Why not an ordinary DIY shed from the garden centre?

A combination of aesthetic, environmental and sustainability issues. Same reason all the wood treatments are eco-friendly (even the wood-stain's made of woad, aiming to reduce the toxic load), safe for bats and birds. And a feeling that our area wasn't really in keeping with the Homebase/B&Q concept of garden design: that it was worth something better.

What's it made of, then?

Reclaimed timber, with joists and floorboards from a Bradford school under demolition, and uprights made of old telegraph poles, given a fresh lease on life. An earth-covered roof needs sturdy support. That's why it looks a bit dramatic before it's finished. ( If you saw the effort it took to get them there, that was dramatic, too.) Then plants can be grown up and down them.

Will people climb on the roof?

Only the gardener/s, because it can't be reached without a ladder - the wide overhang is a deliberate deterrent. It's intended to be child-proof.

What about noise?

I've had three or four garden parties or barbecues a year since I moved here in 1995, with no complaints from anyone, and don't propose to increase noise, frequency or number levels above what has been acceptable before.

Will anybody stay there?

Not unless you count the toads, or siestas in a hammock. There's unlikely to be room among the gardening implements, not to mention having no toilet, no mains electricity or water supply.

What about uninvited guests?

There will be a locked garden gate at the more easily accessible entrance bordering the Delf [Delph?] to deter casual night visitors. (The old gate was stolen; this one will be more substantial, as will the lock on the shed door). The only other way in is a path through adjoining neighbours' plots, which are directly in front of our houses and always in view.

What about all that rubbish in the garden?

Right now the garden is taken up with materials for the potting shed, and doesn't look too great. When the shed's done, all that stuff will be incorporated, and proper gardening can begin again.

Posted by Andrew Verney,
Thursday, May 8, 2003

I would like to thank Kevin for the lovely pictures of my brother's garden shed. I had been wondering how the building work had been going and am extremely pleased to see how well it looks. Thank you very much.

It is a shame that the top picture is spoilt by the inclusion of the ugly looking glass and brick construction and the ramshackle wooden erection with its attached plastic barrel but I guess that helps people to evaluate the relative aesthetic values of the buildings.

It is similarly a shame that in the bottom picture one can hardly make out the potting shed at all. I presume that my brother's shed is the wee black blob in the centre of the picture, hiding behind that huge 4 foot high conifer. I appreciate that you have climbed half way up the Green in order to see the shed at all, as it is barely visible from Windsor Road but I think you needed to have made the effort to climb to within six feet of the construction because at that range you can actually see it.

I understand that Forum readers will take my views with a pinch of salt as Peter is my brother, but I would like to verify the fact that he has made that area safer and more attractive through his efforts. He has put an enormous amount of time and a significant amount of money into creating something that is ecologically, environmentally and structurally far superior to any shed or greenhouse that you will find on the average allotment. The fact that he is my brother actually makes it harder to express my admiration for his work; I have managed to avoid doing so for over forty years and it is hard to break the habit of a lifetime.

I would urge anyone who has a genuine interest in the conservation of our green areas to have a close look at the potting and see for yourself how much more 'in tune' with its environment it is when compared to bricks and glass.

Posted by Steve Wilinsky,
Thursday, May 8, 2003

I agree that it is a very pretty shed and fits in much better with the environment then the broken glass and bits of plastic.

My concern is not with the design of the structure but the status of the land and responsibility for the structure.

What will happen if Peter decides to move and 'sells' the shed with his house? This has already happened with with someone passing on their allotment with their house even though there is a waiting list for allotments. What if the new 'owner' decides he doesn't like potting and would prefer to park his 4x4 in it instead?

Or what will happen if one of the supports rots away premeturly and Peter doesn't have the funds or inclination to fix it (I am not sugesting this will happen)? Who will be left with the responsibility of making it safe or removing it?

I don't mind the shed being there or gardens being fenced off - provided there is a mechanisam to ensure people's safety and most importantly the continued communal ownership and contiguity of the entire Delph. This means the allotments as well as the Village Green area.

Maybe in the future we can ensure that all sheds on the delph are as visualy and environmentally attractive as this one?