Steep Fields and Mill Pond


from the Halifax Courier, Thursday, November 17, 2005

'Ecofriendly' homes plan is back on cards

By Ben Holt

DEVELOPERS have revived plans for 10 "eco-friendly" homes beside a mill pond in Hebden Bridge, to the anger of nearby residents.

Security guards clashed with demonstrators when chainsaw gangs began cutting down protected trees on the Foster Mill pond site in October 2004, on what became known locally as "Chainsaw Tuesday".

Now the firm is seeking detailed planning approval for the homes and to restore the 19th century pond which is overlooked by houses at a much higher level on Windsor Road.

One of the residents, Chris Ratcliffe, said: "We would love to see eco-houses in Hebden Bridge but this is just greenwash. They are using this to get an otherwise totally unacceptable application through. "We are going to vigorously oppose it at every stage."

He feared the development could cause structural damage to their homes.

Neighbour Lynn Breeze said the designs were not appropriate for the town. "This is a valuable piece of wetland and it should not be built on," she added.

Anthony Rae, co-ordinator of Calderdale Friends of the Earth said the homes should not be built on a greenfleld site. "We will join with the local community in strongly opposing this scheme."

No one from developer Green Tops was available for comment.

The single row of three-bedroomed homes have been designed by Hebden Bridge architects, Studio Baad. They would be up to four storey, super-insulated, timberframed properties with covered parking, roof terraces, timber clad balconies and solar panels. A grass or sedum roof would improve the, insulation properties and zinc shingles will be put on some walls

According to the firm's structural engineer Peter Lodge: "The site does not show any potential problems for developing low rise houses and an access road."

The foundations for the homes will lie in the pond area and piles will have to be driven into the ground in keeping with the ecological approach. The pond will be lined and restored as wildlife habitat, including the provision of a bat roost,

The application is expected to be determined by the council in January.