Council branded eco-vandals in land selloff

Friday, November 1, 2002

Land being sold off at Commercial St

by Oliver Moor

Calderdale Council is under fire from Hebden Bridge residents after their own plan to clean up woodland ended in failure. Rather than take up an offer by Osborne Street residents to purchase and clean up a grove of trees adjacent to Commercial Street, the council is instead selling it off to a Halifax property developer.

The situation is especially galling as the plan itself was initiated by one of the residents. Local man John Wilson approached the authorities after becoming tired of seeing the mountain of litter.

"I asked repeatedly that the area be cleaned up but nothing was ever done," said Mr Wilson. Eventually I offered to purchase the land and clean it up myself.

The council then put the land on the open market.

Mr Wilson put in a joint bid with other homeowners to purchase the land. One, Paul Degnan, has lived at Osborne Place for eight years. "Our idea was to remove the litter, plant some bulbs, and fix up the walls, leaving the woodland character essentially the same," he said.

However, a Halifax developer, who, according to council sources, is planning on building a so-called eco-house, then substantially outbid the locals.

"To have healthy trees hacked down to make way for housing, when there are derelict properties ripe for development elsewhere in Hebden, is quite simply environmental terrorism," added Mr Degnan.

The residents are also concerned that the plan could mean trouble elsewhere in Hebden Bridge.

It appears that you could drive a coach and horses through the tree preservation rules, added another resident. What this will mean for other parts of town God only knows. Developers will be free to build wherever they like.

Thanks to Oliver Moor for this news item

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