Discussion Forum

Shed / Village Green

Posted by Peter Verney,
Friday, June 6, 2003

Working together to create community: inspiring?

It's more than a little sad that while one viewer of this website finds it "inspiring to see people working together to create community" in Hebden Bridge, this particular issue highlights the pitfalls of trying to do just that.

It seems that as soon as a group of neighbours start "working together to create community", in someone else's eyes it is regarded as cronyism.


The authors of remarks about alleged encroachment have had years in which to approach me or my neighbours about this issue, but have never done so.

It's utterly misleading to imply that there is some new threat, when fence lines have not changed for at least a decade. (Several people on this street will testify to that fact, in court if need be.)

It is also offensive to couch the remarks in language that suggests some surreptitious ulterior motive, when everything has been done in good faith and in the open.

Why wait till now to come forward?

Why did they not respond to our earlier circulars about the shed, months ago?


With grave concern I note that Mr Crum is using the e-mail address "Village Green" (steepfield@hotmail.com) in his communications. As far as I'm aware, he's an individual living in the area, and not an officer of the Steep Fields Association.

I wonder what superior validity of status he seems implicitly to be claiming for himself, and what its basis might be. I hope it is not intended to mislead. Can he enlighten us?

Surely this isn't part of some political wrecking exercise aiming to undermine / overthrow the SFA and replace it with himself? What does the SFA have to say about this possible "passing off"?


I still don't see a valid reason why this shed should be singled out for attack, out of all the sheds on the allotment area. None of the detractors has explained why this particular one should be targeted.

From our stretch of allotments at the top of the hill, the view of the other allotment sheds is one of a good half-dozen shed roofs, with ageing corrugated translucent PVC roofs (broken in places), assortments of old doors cobbled into shed-shape, and that old stand-by, peeling roofing felt.

At least two of the buildings are the same in terms of area as the proposed shed; at least two are brick-built.

I gather Mr Crum used to spend time playing music in one of them. (Another precedent?)

None are conventional aesthetic delights, not that it bothers me in the least. (All part of the charm, I thought, and all the more reason why a pristine matchwood DIY-shop shed would look out of place.)

Pity no-one came up with alternative suggestions earlier on, when they could have been taken on board. In hindsight, I wonder, would people have preferred a wigwam or a tipi, a Nissen hut, Hobbit mound, pergola or yurt? (Please see project history below).


We tried to do something together, a collective effort between neighbours, building a shared, bat/bird/eco-friendly garden shed on an allotment, based literally on the old greenhouse, with a nice earth roof.

It had to be capable of supporting a ton of earth in which to grow the plants that would cover it, with an overhanging roof to protect the straw bale walls. (Inside, it would be the same size as the old greenhouse - about 7' x 8').

It's ironic that this extra effort to make it a viable "Green" structure is the very thing that has prompted misguided (and frankly hurtful) remarks.


Six months into it, suddenly I'm a conniving developer of a "Summer House", providing "accommodation" as a "Dacha" with a "roof garden". There's even a cartoon worthy of Cummings of the Daily Express during the Cold War.

We're just residents and neighbours trying to get along up here. Not Politburo members, cronies or property developers.

We try to do our bit in keeping down the level of litter, brambles and dog dirt from this end of the Delph to keep it usable. In other words, we endeavour to be defenders of the village green and the spirit in which it was established.

Why the smear tactics, when these critics evidently don't know us and haven't tried to find out the truth? Is it because they're not actually interested in the truth?


Contributions have come from half a dozen or more neighbours along our street, in the way of materials, sustenance and -- crucially -- labour.

(I notice there's a mechanical gantry / crane in the cartoon. In reality the telegraph poles were manhandled one by one over 100 yards down the road and into place by an assortment of humans, with a few bruises and scrapes.)

It's been, overall, the most collective effort the street has been involved in, and I'm at a loss to understand why this is not acknowledged.


Calls for vigilantist responses (threat or incitement?), scare-story fabrications and rumour-mongering are not indicative of people willing to "create community". They are divisive and unhelpful, and only create misery and mistrust. I'm beginning to think that this is what they intended.

There's no substitute for spending time on the ground, working with people in a cooperative spirit, negotiating difficulties and misunderstandings in a timely way and with an open and unaggressive manner.


The shed is demonstrably not on the common land of the village green, Ms Hebburn: it's on the allotment where sheds have been for decades. Please look at the maps, or better still, come and look at the land in question - maybe look at the old foundations - and maybe even talk to some of us?


There have also, regrettably, been rumours that the noise of a couple of recent parties up the road was coming from the shed. In fact no-one went near it. There have been no parties of any sort in that garden for over two years. Not even on my birthday.

See how these things take hold of the imagination?


I was brought up to believe that it was important to stand up to bullies. People who play fast and loose with the truth in order to generate needless misery do not get my respect.

I'd like this scapegoating and moral dishonesty to stop, please.



To have a shed which
  • replaced the former greenhouse and sat on the same site
  • removed / neutralised the existing hazard of broken glass
  • had an earth roof (like the prize-winning one at Colden School, with
  • alpines on top instead of just roofing felt)
  • offered "3D" gardening / permaculture opportunities, with water-harvesting, hanging/climbing plants, which
    i) maximised the useful vegetation
    ii) improved on the appearance of the average garden shed, knowing that it would inevitably be both overlooked and prominent simply because of its location ...
    and iii) pooled the needs of several neighbours for shed-space to best effect.


We began last autumn with ideas from the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales and Barbara Jones (of Todmorden)'s newly-published book on straw-bale building, as well as the Earth Centre at Doncaster, with inquiries to Hebden Bridge's own Treesponsibility and Ms Jones about how to apply them. All expressed interest and asked for feedback.


We began canvassing opinions from our neighbours last year. The residents of the underdwellings along Lee View Road, bordering the allotments, signed a letter in November which was entirely supportive of the shed. We asked anyone we knew to pass on the explanation of what the thing was all about, and and explained to anyone who asked.

In November I approached the Steep Fields Association for permission, and was told that if the shed was on the allotment and not on the village green, it was acceptable to go ahead -- as Liz Anstee of the SFA has now reiterated on this website forum.

I gave them a letter attempting to address any queries or concerns, which was available to any inquirer.

Nonetheless, someone evidently asked the Council if I had planning permission, something I'd initially been led to believe would not be necessary. So I went ahead with a planning application...

An illustrated circular letter went out to all the neighbouring streets facing the Delph in the New Year, again inviting questions, and generated only one written objection among many voices of encouragement.


Mr Crum's interest only became clear in the New Year. Following his intervention, there has been a survey to establish the precise location of the shed and the village green boundary. He was invited by Steep Fields Association officers to participate, but declined to do so.

The survey determined that the shed is on the allotment, and not on the village green.

Full details have been passed to the Calderdale Council Planning Office. The application was resubmitted with the survey evidence and details.

After turning down the invitation to participate in the survey, Mr Crum turned to this website to launch this discussion.

Posted by Liz Anstee
Monday, June 9, 2003

Disentangling rhetoric and emotion from fact and evidence in Peter Verney's contributions to the site is like trying to separate oil and water - not easy and the mixed substance remains rather murky ... so rather than try to reply to it I would like to make just a couple of points.

1. I didn't as he rather disingenuously suggests give authority to his shed. The Steepfields Association view was that as long as what people do on their allotments is safe legal and conforms to the principles laid down by the Allotments Association then the trustees acting on behalf of the owners of the land [Steepfields Association] would not object to it [though I have to admit that this view has now changed since Peter erected his shed and there has been so much opposition to it]. In fact I didn't know what the shed would look like until it appeared underneath my window sometime in September 2002, nor had its shape and form been discussed with the trustees. We now realise that a shed to one person can look like a potential country home to someone else;

2. I would like to ask Peter to publish the details of where information can be accessed about his renewed planning application and by what date people have to respond to it.

Posted by David Parry
Monday, June 16, 2003

I am surprised that people think there is any debate about the area of land known as "the Delph".

This is registered common land and as such can have no incursions of any kind. I was horrified to find that some people had stolen areas of the registered common to fulfill personal desires by fencing off areas of the common, and excluding others who have the right to use all the common land.

The sooner the authorities enforce re-instatement of this land the better.

Posted by Liz Anstee
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

An update for those who are interested - there were two allotments which had taken land from [or encroached onto] the Village Green: one an actual allotment registered on the plan for Steepfields [the Delph]; the other a piece of land appropriated by someone living nearby who started to garden it as an allotment.

Both the tenant of the allotment and the other person involved have been asked by the trustees to restore the land which has encroached onto the Village Green and we will ensure that this happens.

Posted by Kevin Crum
Friday, June 20, 2003

According to information provided by Roy Thomas, the Calderdale Planning Officer handling 'retrospective' planning application 03/00288/FUL, the applicant had untill today to (re) submit the application within the time frame agreed with Calderdale Planning at the time it was withdrawn. Mr Thomas wrote to me late afternoon 19 06 03, to indicate that he was at that time 'unaware of a (re) submitted application'.

Since Peter Verney sets such great store in the importance of community (as evidenced by some of his statements in this forum) I hope that he is going to participate in the spirit of community in respect of this important community issue and tell us all:

  1. Has he (re) submitted the retrospective planning application?
  2. Or has he decided not to proceed and remove the building?
  3. Or does he have some other course of action in mind? And if so would he please tell us what it is?
  4. Does he plan to reinstate the encroached area of the Delph VG1 voluntarily upon the request of the Trustees or is he inclined to force the Trustees, and wider community to compel him to do so by recourse to statutory procedures?
  5. I look forward to reading his response, to these straight forward questions, on this forum very soon.

Posted by Kevin Crum
Friday, June 20, 2003

Dear Dave
'Comrade' , I think "stolen" may be slightly strong language for the encroachments that have happened on the Village Green, I hope so. The actions of those who have encroachments attached to their interactions with The Delph VG1 will illuminate this question as time goes on. I can however entirely understand why you may infer this and would direct those who are in the position of having an encroachment onto VG1 as part of their responsibility to attend to, to bear it in mind.

I would refer you and others to my contribution to this forum: May 1st - Trouble At delph / Encroachments on the Village Green particularly paragraph 4.

I am confident that you share with me and many others the desire that this matter is resolved within the community and in the spirit of the community activism that preserved and protected The Delph VG1 / Steepfield Allotments in the first place. I would like to take the opportunity to once again call upon the "Trustees" to convene an open meeting to address the serious issues which have arisen.

Posted by Steve Wilinsky
Wednesday, July 2, 2003

It's always nice to see good honest open exchanges of ideas, especially on the web where it's so easy to fall back on snide personal and emotional comments and completely avoid the issue.

Can someone confirm the current state of encroachments on vg1 and the action being taken, to the residents / members of Steepfields Association. While this is a good forum for discussion it does exclude people who don't have access to or know about this site.

Also I'm not sure what the relationship between the residents association / steepfields association / allotment committee / trustees. My understanding which may be completely wrong is as follows...
  1. The Steepfields Association owns the land (vg1 and allotments and some other bits scattered around).
  2. The allotment committee manages the day to day running of the land set aside for allotments on behalf of the Steepfields Association
  3. The trustees are responsible for....

I guess that's my question are the trustees responsible for enforcing the will of the Steepfields Association or are they simply a legal contact point?

In either case, the Steepfields Residents Association (who are they? - no one posting on this site claims to be an officer) needs to ensure that they meet in an open forum (the potting shed would probably be a nice dry place to meet?) at prearranged times to allow the Steep Fields Residents to make their views known.

If this is not done then there is no way we can expect the trustees to act on our behalf or act effectively as they have no way of knowing what we want.

Can I suggest a date of Saturday the 16th August for a full residence association meeting with written notice given to everyone living in the Steepfields area - and to the current officers (if any one knows who they are and where they live) and a representative of the allotment committee.

A proposed agenda might be -
  1. Introduce trustees
  2. Introduce officers
  3. Discuss current issues
  4. Appoint Kevin head of planning application committee
  5. Appoint Peter his deputy
  6. Build a mud-wrestling pit and let them fight it out.
  7. Have lunch - provided by current officers.
  8. Vote for new officers.
  9. Help Steve put in crazy paving and barbed wire around his corner of the Delph
  10. Ajourn until next major issue arises.