Salem millpond plans: latest

Mill pond protest

Residents gather for a meeting and protest, Saturday, September 13, 2003

Residents to oppose development proposals by Grant Thornton UK and Eddisons estate agents to develop Hebden Bridge woodland site

Press release following residents' first meeting

Shocked residents have vowed to block proposals for the development of a large and beautiful Hebden Bridge woodland site. The Woodland, known as Foster Mill mill pond, lies between Windsor Road, Spring Grove and the River, and has been acquired under administrative receivership by Grant Thornton UK, one of Britain's biggest liquidation accountants. The land was formerly owned by Whitelee Developments Limited, a company associated with Mr. D J White of Halifax, which is believed to have gone into receivership in July, and must now be sold by the Receivers.

An email copy left under the trees when it was blown away by the wind at a Grant Thornton site meeting held on the afternoon of Friday 5th September, as well as subsequent questions raised by angry residents, reveal the truth of the matter. Potential site development proposals of considerable scale are under active and urgent confidential discussion between Andrew Freeth, Grant Thornton's Property Advisory Service's Senor Manager and Anthony Spencer of Eddisons Estate Agent's Commercial office at Leeds. Although some of their discussions and investigations are still said to be under way about matters such as access and the title of the land, Grant Thornton has clearly stated that the favoured proposal which they call 'The Row' is for the felling of the trees and the erection of a row of luxury holiday houses or second homes.

At packed residents' meetings held on the eighth and ninth of September and a site demonstration planned for Saturday September 13th, a clear message was sent to the property professionals that no buildings will ever be built on this highly scenic land and no trees will ever be felled.

One resident said she told Grant Thornton the land was home to the rare and protected Great Crested Newt, but she said they just weren't interested. The land is also home to bats, owls, squirrels, frogs and other wild life. It has a beautiful range of native woodland trees. It provides lovely views from the Heptonstall Road and for walkers along the banks of the river on the way to Hardcastle Craggs. Residents at Windsor View, Windsor Road and Spring Grove and a number of other streets say they love the green space just outside their doors. Many people walk their dogs there.

Fed up residents protest that too many green spaces in Hebden Bridge are under threat lately. 'Developers smell money here and they are wiping out the very qualities that make Hebden Bridge so attractive' one resident claimed. 'Do we need more luxury executive homes or second homes?' she asked. 'This woodland is not the place for any houses to be built but what Hebden Bridge needs is more affordable homes for ordinary people.' She added, 'the housing price rises are creating a 'property under class' where ordinary people are forced to live in insecure rented accommodation while the landlords coin it in at the same time as they reap the capital gains. The bijou townie character of a lot of the new development is quite out of keeping with the historic character of the town. Calderdale Council needs to do a lot, lot more to stop this sort of planning application, as well protecting the housing needs of the ordinary people.'

We residents have defeated the developers by civil action and blocking the road, before, and the developers should realise they have no hope of ever getting their hands on this natural land.

In an email dated 8th September, Anthony Spencer of Eddisons confirmed they are acting in respect of the sale but that no price or method of sale has yet been agreed. He confirmed in a later telephone conversation he was preparing a confidential report for Grant Thornton regarding the development potential of the site, which is due to be completed by the end of September. This means residents, people who care about housing for ordinary people and all conservationalists have very little time indeed to influence the developers' thinking.

We intend to express our disgust and opposition in the strongest possible terms. As well as demonstrating and preparing plans for preventative action, we shall also be contacting local councils and the MP. We are preparing our own history of the site and examining significant site factors would pose huge problems to development. These development proposals will impact disastrously on the established neighbourhood and community. It is as if they want to rush the proposals through as fast as possible because, we understand, the area is due to become Green Belt in two years' time. These proposals destroy nationally-famed views and wipe out wild life and trees. These people need to have no doubt they have a big fight on their hands. Land ought to be held in trust for the people, not made the subject of this sort of speculation and profiteering. A lot of people in Hebden Bridge have quite simply had enough of what is going on. The authorities should take note.

Hebweb news: Friday, September 5, 2003

Salem millpond under threat

News is reaching the Hebden Bridge Web concerning revived plans to sell and build upon the old Foster Mill millpond, now a wooded wildlife area. The area borders the Hebden Water at the back of Spring Grove. There is currently no road access, and it is difficult to see how there could be. However, we understand that the plans would involve access from Windsor View.

We have been contacted today by Michael Conneely who lives on Windsor View and who overheard a site meeting there today. More details are given in his message below. He explains that by chance the wind blew away one of their papers, which he later retrieved. We have scanned this printout of an email. Click here to see this document.

Message from Michael Conneely

At 14.00 hrs, today, there was a site meeting outside this house which I heard parts of while I was hanging out washing. The meeting was between a business man who arrived in a metallic silver open top car registration YA 52 YHH and an Indian lady. They had a sheaf of papers and large scale plans.

The gist of what I overheard the man say was that the company which owns the woodland situated between Windsor View and the river has gone into Receivership and the man is advising / facilitating the disposal of the land. He said get a cash deal if you can. He said 'we don't even know who owns the wall or the right of way. He said he established that the right of way ran down the start of Windsor View, branching off through the wall opposite Number five (where there are steps) and into the woodland to serve the development. There was intense discussion as to whether there was any restriction of vehicular access onto Windsor View and whether the designation of the land would preclude development including a row of houses.

While they were talking the man put his papers on the wall beside me and on top of the pile was a paper headed 'I X Y White of Halifax. (I have put X Y because I can't remember what the exact initials were. They might have been D J - but I cannot remember. Also while I was talking, one of the woman's papers blew away. They looked for it but, not finding it, concluded that no paper had blown away. Afterwards I looked at the land and saw that despite initial first glance impressions, it does have a substantial flat piece big enough for considerable development. I also saw lying on the ground among the trees, the paper that was blown away which reveals development intentions.

Development of this land would jeopardize totally the residential community character of this neighbourhood and destroy wildlife habitat.

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