Discussion Forum

My small corner of the Delph - or VG1.1a

Posted by Steve Wilinsky,
Thursday, May 8, 2003

First of all, most of you will know me as (one of) the mad Americans living in the area. Second I am very disappointed in the amount of ( or lack of ) discussion going on about these two similar issues - the shed and fenced gardens on the Delph.

The Delph is a registered Village Green - as has been said many times before - but more importantly it and the allotment area belongs to the residents' association. This means that ANY changes made to it - whether building a shed or fencing off an area - need approval of the residents' association, as they (we) could be held financially responsible for any injury or damage caused by a structure or area on the Delph.

Personally, I have no problem with a big shed or a small patch of fenced garden. It is our land and we need to decide how to use it. If someone feels they want a little piece of garden for themselves and no one feels it encroaches on them, there should be no reason not to allow it.

Unfortunately, if a structure such as the shed, which looks pretty permanent, is left standing for too long, or a garden is allowed to be fenced off the owner could claim ownership of the land (don't know exactly how the law works - but we should find out).

In this respect I think something formal needs to be put in place, whereby if people want a piece of the Delph for a garden or a potting shed or a small semi-detached house with all mod cons, there should be a process in place for agreeing this.

To that end I would sugest a committee / group / conclave / council or whatever collective word you would prefer be set up to oversee the integrity of the Delph, with NON nominal rents being charged (this does not need to be paid in money) per sqr foot for leasing a piece of the Delph on a short term basis (no more then 2 years), and a LARGE upfront deposit being held to ensure the land is returned to its original state after the term of the lease.

This money raised could be used for the upkeep of the Delph and surounding area. some initial thoughts:

1) hiring gardening equipment
2) fixing the 'boat'
3) planting trees
4) hiring snipers to shoot dogs (and their owners if lucky) who foul the Delph
5) speed traps with anti tank missiles to slow down cars on Windsor Road ( yes I have offended as well )
6) a windmill to generate power for all the surrounding properties.

I'm sure the list is endless, and could launch many interesting conversations.

But one thing I'm sure about, if the encroachment on the Delph is not reversed by mid summer - with the fenced gardens removed and a structure put in place to manage events in the future, it will be to late and we can all say goodbye to the delph as a communal piece of land.

To that end I claim the corner from the 'far away tree' to the 'boat', I always thought it would look really good with some crazy paving - anyone know a good razor wire supplier in the area? (you think I'm kidding ;)


Posted by Peter Verney,
Sunday, May 11, 2003

Dear Steve

Fret not. The allotment is not part of my house, and the shed will revert to the allotment society if I die or leave. (The former being more likely than the latter, but you never know.) I accepted from the outset that it wouldn't be my property. The Association has the final say on its disposal, if I have an accident or blow a gasket. Any 4x4 would have to trample over several other people's gardens -- there is no access except for a narrow path -- so that's out of the question. Is there a problem with my doing something that I know I'll have to walk away from / spending money on something I can't keep? It's intended to be sociable. But I'll know better in future. Just my out of date value system, showing its age.

Posted by Anne Hebburn
Sunday, May 11, 2003

As a long-time resident who'd like to garden a bit of the Delph myself, I'm very sad to see it spoilt. The so-called 'shed' is far bigger than a shed needs to be, and its very presence threatens the lovely open space which first made me want to live here. I don't know what Peter Verney means by his 'out of date value system' but he clearly thinks that the common land is up for grabs by himself. Would he change his mind if the entire Delph were to be covered by such buildings? Probably not, as long as one of them were 'his'.

Posted by Liz Anstee
Monday, May 12, 2003

I along with Jeanie Bell am a trustee of the piece of land known as the Delph or Steepfields and we are aware of and trying to find solutions to the issues the building of the shed on one of the allotments has raised.

Two distinct problems have been identified

  1. Encroachments onto the village green by allotment holders
  2. The shed on peter verney's allotment specifically

With regard to encroachments - the legislation is very clear and no encroachments are possible. Those who have encroached will have to return their allotmment/parts of allotment to the Village Green and the trustees will ensure that this happens;

Peter Verney's shed poses a different problem. The trustees have taken the view in the past that what people choose to do on their allotment is their own business as long as its legal and safe and conforms to the rules of the allotment association.

Given the strength of feeling the building of this shed has aroused we, the trustees, are encouraging people to make their views known to the planning department at Calderdale who will make a decision on whether this structure can stand or not when Peter Verney resubmits his application for full planning approval. The trustees will be asking Mr Verney to publish his intentions re the planning application on this website and in enough time for people to respond. If the local authority does not give planning permission for the shed the trustees will be asking him to remove it.

So love it or hate it, ensure you make your views known and ensure also that for those you know without internet access you inform them that there is a forum to express their views through the planning process.

Posted by Steve Wilinsky,
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Ahh, Now that feels better :)

Anne, I agree with you that it's the Delph which makes our homes so attractive, and I would hate to see it spoilt, but we need to remember that ones man's (or women's - please don't take offence) spoilt is another man's improvement.

While you would prefer to have it as open land Peter would prefer a little (or large) shelter for his hobby, and feels that he is spending his own money for the something which can be used by the community at large not just himself. This is ( I think, Peter can correct me if I'm wrong ) what he means by his 'out of date value system'.

Peter, I hope you didn't take offence at my sugestion that it would turn in to a garage - I think it would sell much better as a detached property on unspoilt land with marvellous views of the surronding countryside - but I'm sure an estate agent could help you there better then I could.

The point I was trying to make, you made for me when you said : 'The Association has the final say on its disposal' - and presumably the cost as well. If you get planning permission, convince all your neighbours that they really do want it. and manage to complete building it without some bored youth burning it down, I would still oppose its building with out some way of ensuring it was not left to the Residents' Association to clean up in the end. With this in place and the blessing of the residence association I would have no objections to adding a second floor and indoor swimming pool.

Which brings me to my final soap box of the day...

I have seen some of the lovely modern developments which Calderdale Council have approved and do not trust them to manage building on the Delph. They are technocrats who have no idea what the Delph is used for or means to the community - hell they don't know what car parks are used for or mean to the community. While they have a right to disallow building on the Delph for technical reasons, they do not have the authority to allow it. That is the responsibility of the Trustees for the Delph who are responsible to the Residents' Association, and I beg you - set up an open meeting of the Residents' Association to form a committee to oversee building on the Delph and allotment area. If it is not controlled in an open and firm way we will loose the Delph.

ps: can you all park on the right hand side only of Windsor Road on August 1st - I have a large truck delivering crazy paving to my corner - hoping to get it down over the week end - any volunteers to help?

Posted by Kevin Crum,
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Dear Liz (And all concerned about Steepfield issues)

It is encouraging to know that the Trustees are involved. But I think in your contribution you have omitted one of the difficulties and perhaps the most important of all. The absence to all intents and purposes of a viable Steepfield Association. This places the trustees in a difficult and isolated position and the wider community without a functioning democratic process in which to participate with you, with each other and with the issues whatever they may be as they arise.

Does anyone agree with me that the present situation is a bit back to front? Shouldn't the Trustees be acting in accordance with the legitimate concerns of the community arrived at through consultation within a viable association?

I am very glad to see that in respect of encroachments on the Delph the Trustees have finally arrived at a concurrent position with the information I provided you regarding the inviolability of village greens at the ad hoc meeting on 17 03 03.

I understand your motives, wishing to leave the permissions regarding Peter's building to the Calderdale Planning Process. I believe this to be not viable. As I have communicated to you before about this there are clearly two consents implicit.

  1. Planning permission via Calderdale.
  2. Owners permission via (?) Proclamation by the 'Trustees' or consultation within the community (?)

I think that if you give away the owners' right to decide the issue of their consent without a consultation specific to that issue you will be stepping in as much 'sticky stuff' as you almost did over the issue of encroachments on VG1. And why would you wish to do this?

Planning permission does not by itself confer the right to act on that permission. This is particularly relevant to just the kind of situation re 03/00288/FUL. If I may be anecdotal: Pretty much anyone can apply for planning consent for pretty much anything. Imagine this situation. You own an acre of land your neighbour wants to put something that requires planning consent on your land. She informs you that planning consent is being sought. She must do that and insure that all with rights have been informed. You don't want it. She obtains Planning consent. That is it. She has planning permission but without your, the owners permission, that is the end of the matter. You now have the piece of land and planning consent for a two-bedroom bungalow, which probably puts added value on your land. She has nothing and she paid for it. Lucky for her she didn't build it first.

I dispute that you as the Trustees have the right to give the owners' consent without an open accessible fair consultation with the owners. Who exactly do the Trustees view as the owners of the property?

I am more than happy for 03/00288/FUL to proceed through the Calderdale Planning Consent Process. If it is refused, so be it. If consent is granted then I and I am sure others on all sides of the issue, will also want the right to participate in the owners' consultation as to whether the building should be allowed or not.

If what you are saying is that as the Trustees you are going to leave the decisions to the Calderdale Planning Dept. that is not a problem regarding planning permission, that is the function of the Planning Dept. But when it comes to the owners' permission for a tenant to be allowed to complete and retain a building that is on Steepfield land, having initially avoided the processes and consultative avenues, I feel that that permission must either be granted or not by the owners and this surely requires a consultative process beyond Calderdale planning Dept. remit. And that all sides deserve the right of access to the Trustees and each other to present their case, arguments and observations.

Just in case there is an assumption that precedents exist on the Steepfield Allotments for buildings like the communal garden shelter 03/00288/FUL. I dispute this. In fact if Peter's building obtains the relevant consents from the planning process and the owners' permission it will become the precedent. And this is a very strong issue to think seriously about before allowing it. If Peter's building acquires the two consents it requires to be completed and remain on its site it will be the first building to do so that I know of. It will then be a precedent for further similar or even larger buildings on the Steepfield Allotments. And possibly many more similar difficulties like the present one for the owners to address. It may come to represent a precedent that challenges the very basis of the important community resource of these allotments.

I am still waiting for a response to my request made at the meeting of 17 03 03 to see the association constitution etc. As useful as the Hebden Web Forum is in opening up the discussion particularly in the absence of a viable association, it cannot get to grips with the detail and attention required for the issues that may bob along, pop up or fall down? It is my serious desire to see issues put through the processes of an open association. Surely an attempt to resuscitate the Steepfield Association is worth a go?

I do not believe that it is desirable to leave decisions up to the Trustees on their own to sort out. The viability of the Steepfield Association is germane to this process. I do not say this because I feel that it is going to make the outcomes I favour more likely or not. But because it is useful to the continuation and credibility of the community resource: The Delph VG1 / Steepfield Allotments.

There is nothing personal about the position I have taken; I have arrived at my concerns without prejudice and following a path of inquiry. I respect my neighbours whether our opinions are concurrent or not. I am open to persuasion by reasonable dialogue and substantiation and offer my opinion and information in good faith. I am also happy to abide by democratically arrived at consensus. I just would like to have the privilege to participate.

Oh yeah, somebody reminded me: "Nobody likes a smarty-pants". If that is what it boils down to in the 'Swamp of Calumny' I guess I can live with that.

Posted by Annie Conboy,
Thursday, May 15, 2003

I have been reading the discussion about the Delph Village Green and Allotments since a little note droped through my front door (author unknown) a few weeks ago. I was already aware - since the structure in question is directly in my line of sight - of the building work taking place and the debate around the area about whether this structure should be "allowed".

Having move to my home 11 years ago I was delighted to be a part of a community who practiced a 'live and let live' philosophy and who genuinely cared about preserving a local amenity (hence the purchase of more local land when it became available}. I haven't always appreciated the late/all night parties - especially when rowdier elements marched past my door swearing and shouting - or the skateboarding after 9pm at night. Nor that sometimes dogs are let loose unsupervised or that cats in large numbers, carriers of toxiplasmosis, make a beeline for my bit of garden. In the same way, I am sure my neighbours have not always appreciated my parties, my child, dog, cat or other aspects of living on the same street as me. In the end, however, that it what being part of a community is - sometimes good, sometimes not so good but, hopefully, not so bad that you feel you have to move house!

Much has been made of the lack of a vibrant Steepfield Association but I don't agree that this is the case at all. I feel I have always been involved and consulted, with the opportunity to raise issues with the Trustees at any time. The Trustees have done a lot of work in a quiet, considered and organised way (e.g road repairs, purchase of additional land}. Now, on the issue of the sturcture being built on an allotment, they are working to resolve what may be a very difficult issue - someone wants something that is diametrically opposed to what someone else wants! It seems to me that whatever happens someone will be disappointed and I wonder where the 'live & let live' bit of being part of this community went?

I wish to see the Delph preserved as an open space for all users and this includes allotment holders too. However, they are surely all aware that they only rent the land they use. If they wish to build a huge greenhouse to grow crysanthemums (something I believe happened many years ago on these sites) and also use that structure for meeting, partying or praying then I have no objection whatsoever. If they disturb me then I'm quite happy to take this up directly with the individuals concerned.

What I am very unhappy to see is some sort of "approval" process, via the Trustees or the Stewepfield Association, that may actually become the 'dictat' of a small number of people who have a particular view of what the residents (and therefore members of the Association)would wish to see from their windows. It therefore seems important for people to recognise that some of us have made our comments known to the Trustees without a blaze of publicity, are happy to discuss these views if necessary but are also happy to trust that the Trustees will balance all views and, with the bigger picture in mind, act accordingly. Getting 'bogged down' in planning permission versus ownership only deflects from the real issue - someone wants to be able to decide what another person can or can't do on the land they rent from the Association. I don't feel that the Association really wants to become embroiled in disputes about what the rental agreements permit/prohibit if, at the end of the day, any structure will be liable to be altered/removed by the next person who rents the land.

Finally, given the number of postings to this site I would say that some people quite clearly have 'participated' plenty!