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Closure of Little Park

From Michael Prior

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The news that the popular Little Park is to be effectively closed for 10 months to allow this developer access to what is already a patently absurd new block is really the final straw. I walk past this playground most days and it is a joy to see children happily playing. Now it will one again be the joy of earth-moving equipment. All for £75/month!!! It also raises the question of just how the developer proposes to open long-term access.

Could our local councilors tell us just what they have done to stop this outrageous scheme?

From Paul Clarke

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

This idea that a publicly owned playground can be shut off to suit a developer is simply insane and must be stopped.

We hear so much about kids just sitting in front of video games and not getting out but it seems our hopeless council are yet again willing to act in a stupid fashion. I wonder if they would act the same way if someone suggested fencing off a Halifax playground??

That park is hugely popular in an area where are little enough open spaces for children to let off steam and get some exercise.

As for the £75 payment that equates to about £1 an hour for the time our children are deprived of a community resource.

This insanity must be stopped before it goes any further especially given we as a community always put children before profit.

Don't get me started on the secrecy and lack of consultation but I expect nothing less from Calderdale.

From Julie C

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

This is totally wrong.

I know families with little kids who live in Hebden in flats and houses in the centre of town with no garden for whom the Little Park is a real lifeline. It is their back garden as well as a playground, meeting place for families, aimed especially at little ones, safe and convenient, and well loved. There are some families I know who go there every day.

It was wrong to give the developer permission to build in the first place when he had no access. The Little Park is going to be completely overlooked and largely in the shade once the flats are built.

If the residents are driving how will they get their cars in? The gap down the side of the McCarthy and Stone flats is too narrow for driver access I'd have thought. Is the developer still assuming he can get folk to drive up the private road, Waterside Fold, and then drive onto the bridge via a breach in the river wall?

None of the possibilities add up, and it makes me feel that a sweetener has been paid somewhere, and it's more than the insultingly derisory £75 figure for closing the Park.

From Veronica Roberts

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I can't believe this didn't crop up in the planning stages and there wasn't a proper consultation then. Why now when works have already started to lay this on, the disruption is unfair in a public space.

Hope Calderdale council can explain this one...

From Bernard B

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I'm not a legal beagle by any means but a quick bit of google research gives the impression that the law Phil Bradby is trying to use is there to allow access for "basic preservation work" only, not the building of new blocks of flats. Has the Council's legal department been consulted and have they issued correct guidance? Who signed off the deal for £75 a week (over a tenner a day!!) Are any of our Councillors looking in to this?

From Cllr Ali Miles

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Since being informed on 6/10 by officers of the proposed closure there has been a continuous stream of emails between all the local councillors, supported by the cabinet member responsible for the playground, objecting to fencing off of the majority of the playground.

I spoke to 2 members of the Little Park Friends and asked them to object and lobby - hence Nikki's article.

Without the action of local councillors the issue would not have been made public.

Despite objections, planning permission was given to the site, based on the fact that the developer would have won on appeal against refusal, at significant cost to the Council, as the site had had planning permission in the past.

The fencing is at the demand of the HSE, to prevent risk of injuries to children using the playground, particularly to prevent access to the site and the scaffolding, during the building works.

Vehicular access to the site will indeed be via Waterside Fold, as the developer and future residents do have right of access to their property.
Paul's comment about it not happening to a playground in Halifax is patent nonsense and deliberately devisive (them against us)

The accusation from Julie C about 'sweeteners' is offensive both to hard working officers and councillors.

We, your councillors, are continuing to try to prevent closure of the playground, but because of the planning situation it is not necessarily within ours or our officer's control.

From Chris B

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I've just been looking through the documents for this application, and it all looks very odd.

The original application had a completed Certificate A, which confirms the applicant's ownership of all of the 'red lined' area on the site plan, which patently is not the case. This seems a very strange mistake for an experienced agent to make (and I speak as someone who has filled in an awful lot of planning applications over the years).

The revised application includes Certificate B (as it should), but I'm not sure whether the site plan has been amended.

So now the developer, faced with legal action from the owners of properties in Waterside Fold, has asked if he can use the playground as a site access. This obviously should have been forseen by the planners, and appropriate consultations carried out before granting permission.

And what about access for the residents of the new development when it is complete? Do they have a right to drive along Waterside Fold?

All very curious...

And another thing...

Previous posts have suggested that access to a site is not a planning issue. It very much is: planning permission is not usually granted for a new housing site where the vehicule access is across land not owned by the applicant.

Talking of the applicant, both application forms state that KLA Builders are the applicant. The Certificate B on the revised form states that Mango Developments are one of the owners - but where do KLA fit in? Do they own any of the land?

The site plan is a bit unclear, but it looks as if part of the playground might be in the red line area. If so, why aren't Calderdale mentioned on the Certificate B?

There seems to be a gap at the side of the building (where the bin store is) that would be just wide enough to access the car parking area via the playground. Does that ring alarm bells in anyone else's head?

The more I look at this, the more depressing it becomes...

From Eleanor Land

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

It would seem to be par for the course nowadays that money takes precedence over the rights of the majority of local citizens.

When it comes to planning, any application however badly designed is given priority above the rights of the local people.

French people have a different way of dealing with planning, decisions are made at a local level, generally decided by a local Mayor, if his/her fellow citizens disagree they have a chance to show their feelings in an election.

In this country the views of local people are ignored, and their concerns trampled over in the pursuit of profit. The children using the Little Park are merely collateral damage.

From A.Williams

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

I thank Cllr Miles for her response on this thread - clearly doing a good job for her constituents. But in some ways it's left me more confused. She mentioned that fencing will be placed in the playground for Health and Safety purposes. That doesn't sound to me like the purpose of the Access to Neighbouring Land Act that appears to be involved here.

It feels like there is only half a story being told. It's not clear from the HebWeb news article and the discussion on the forum so far whether or not the court has already granted an Access Order to allow entry on to the land, or whether the developer is just now in the process of applying to the court one. The legislation is here if anyone wants to read and make some sense of it.

A quick read of the Act suggests that it is designed to allow for an Access Order to be granted if the works are reasonably necessary for the 'preservation' of the land - I don't think the idea is to grant access for development in general. I agree with Bernard B on this one - he beat me to it. There may also be room to argue to the court that it would be unreasonable to make an order in light of the level of disturbance or interference to use or enjoyment of the playground - i.e. small children not being able to play.

It looks like the developer may have gone straight to the courts so it might be a little harsh to blame Calderdale for this. I also think this not a planning matter - rather a property issue that the council are involved with as they are the neighbouring landowner. I'm suspect council officers (and members) must be frustrated by this as everyone else.

Perhaps someone who know more about this can fill in the blanks.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

I don't want to detract from anyone's efforts to stop this utterly inappropriate development and the closure of the playground, but would like to defend the remarks by Paul Clarke and Julie C that Cllr Miles seems so eager to jump all over.

To anyone who has been around a while it is far from 'patent nonsense' or 'devisive' [sic] to suggest that a similar situation in Halifax might be treated differently. Nor is it 'offensive' to raise the possibility of backhanders being involved. While the majority of councillors and council officers may be above reproach, it is unrealistic to assume that they all are. There is certainly something very fishy about the way this developer appears to be getting everything his own way when his proposed development is so flawed.

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

I have always thought Calderdale is far more interested in the needs of the biggest town it covers rather than Hebden Bridge and merely dismissing that as 'patent nonsense' is hardly a cogent response to the views of a constituent.

But I was interested in Cllr Miles assertion it is a 'fact' that this application would have lost on appeal. Perhaps she can offer a link to officer and/or legal advice that this would have been the case.

From Chris B

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

I'm afraid I have to take issue with Cllr Miles comments about a planning appeal.

Many Local Authorities are, quite rightly, worried about the cost of losing appeals: but this usually only applies when faced with a major developer and an army of highly paid professional advisers and a site with a lot of money to be made from the development.

In this case we have a minor league developer and a rather small development.

I would suggest that the threat of going to appeal was perhaps a bluff, and one that should have been called. And can we assume that an appeal would have been successful? An application where ownership of the access road appears not to be owned by the developer? Sadly we will never know.

Another statement in Cllr Miles post puzzles me. If the developer has rights of access to the site via Waterside Fold, why is the playground being used for access during the development?

I'm off for a site visit when the rain stops.....

From Nikki Harvey

Thursday, 29 October 2015

It was Cllr Ali Miles who alerted us to the situation without which we wouldn't have been able to act with the press release so we very glad to be informed. I know our local councillors are not happy with the play equipment being fenced off. The HBT journalist said that the press release and park photo will be in next week's papers to get due coverage as there would have been a lot less room for it in this week's paper. I asked if it could go in the Courier too... I am crossing my fingers it will be front page in HBT...

Thanks so much to all the folks who turned up with and without kids the other morning with very little notice, especially the fabulous woman with the 'Play not Profit' banner! Unfortunately Little Park Friends didn't get a photo of it. If anyone did get one and can e mail to me I would be very grateful. I know I can get one from the paper once it's published but that is a week away!

Little Park Friends had 'retired' but have regrouped to do what we can to stop this awful situation. We appreciate many people are 'Little Park Friends' as the Park is loved and well used by so many parents and carers. The more of us that make our feelings known the better! We will put a notice on the sign board at the park soon and keep people updated through Hebweb. Like everyone we are limited by time free to devote to this so everyone's efforts are appreciated!

Unfortunately it feels a bit like the horse has already bolted as permission has been granted and work is already underway...I haven't had time to pick through the planning application but I do wonder how this got planning when it would result in part closure of the playground. Surely this would have been grounds for objection? If councillors and local residents weren't aware of this when the plans were being considered does it question the validity of the planning application? If so, what can be done about this at this point in time?

We are communicating with the councillors to do what we can to challenge this situation. Please feel free to do the same!

We will post Hebweb updates as often as we can.

From Chris B

Thursday, 29 October 2015

In response to Nikki's post:

The planning application was a shambles. My view is that the application had so many anomalies that it should never have been accepted, let alone approved, by Calderdale (and I do have some knowledge of the planning process).

The issue of access is crucial. Unless there is an agreement we don't know about, the developer (and the eventual residents) have no automatic right of access via Waterside Fold. This alone should have sunk the application. Which leaves access (temporary and permanent) via.......

Just because planning permission has been granted, doesn't mean that access has to be provided across the playground. The closure of the playground formed no part of the planning application or approval.

What can we do? Nothing to overturn the planning approval, but possibly something to stop access across the playground (but I'm not sure). You need some good legal advice.

If I was a betting man, would I put money on the playground being as it is now in 18 months time? No.

From Michael Prior

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Cllr. Miles contribution raises more questions than it answers:

  1. Is she really suggesting that the Council would have proceeded to close and demolish the Little Park without any warning being given to local residents, that "Without the action of local councillors the issue would not have been made public"? Is she happy with this?
  2. She asserts that closure is required as "The fencing is at the demand of the HSE, to prevent risk of injuries to children using the playground, particularly to prevent access to the site and the scaffolding, during the building works." Is it usual for developments taking place close to public land to result in the closure of that public land for safety reasons? Is is not more usual for the builder to be required to erect all necessary enclosure to ensure public safety? Can she provide an example of where this has happened elsewhere? Could she publish the advice given to her on this by officers?
  3. Who advised the Planning Committee that refusing planning approval would result in unacceptable costs because an appeal would inevitably succeed? What was the previous planning approval which would have triggered a successful appeal? What date was it? Is she aware that an inspector does not necessarily award costs against the losing party if they believe that the original decision was not unreasonable? Was the Committee so advised?
  4. Is she quite clear that the Little Park land will not be required for any form of machinery either in transit or based on the land? Is she aware that there is a suggestion that the existing bridge must be replaced and that it is not clear how this will be done without heavy machinery being placed on the Little Park land area?
  5. Has she a guarantee that the destroyed Little Park playground will be fully restored at the developer's expense to its existing state?
  6. Was the Planning Committee informed that Little Park closure would be a consequence of the development? If not, when was the Council so informed?
  7. Could she explain just what is the basis for asserting that "because of the planning situation it is not necessarily within ours or our officer's control." Just what component of their planning consent legally requires that the Park be closed? Is she seriously suggesting that if the Council refused to close the Park then the developer would have legal recourse? If so, what is it? Could she publish the advice given to her on this?

There are several other questions raised by other contributors about the legal basis for this move. My own view is that there is something very odd about this whole affair. It is no use getting irate about offensive insinuation concerning "hard working officers and councillors" when the business does have such an odd smell. I suggest for a start that the Council reveal all correspondence between itself and the developer concerning the need for Little Park closure. An FoI would force them to do this so why doesn't Cllr. Miles take a lead in obtaining and publishing this material together with all legal advice provided to councillors by officers.

This issue may come down to some public action. So long as there is one person sitting on one swing, workmen will take no action, still less if there are several dozen and as it is public land, occupation is not illegal or even trespass. We need to set up some kind of warning system so that if all else fails, there will be a way of making sure that there are always some people on the site. Perhaps Cllr. Miles will put her hand up to support such. It would be a good way for for Mr. Fenton-Glyn, our prospective Labour candidate for Calder, to reintroduce himself.

From Chris B

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Access to the site, both during construction and for the future residents is the issue that is still not clear, and it is the one thing that really matters in this whole sorry mess.

We need to know, without any doubts or uncertainty, exactly what is the status of the land and wall between the houses in Waterside Fold and the river. My understanding is that the developer has no right to use the land to access his site, or to demolish a section of the wall. Maybe someone from Waterside Fold could confirm that this is the case, and that there are no rights, easements or other agreements that we don't know about.

If, as Cllr Miles has stated, the developer has a right to access his land via Waterside Fold, why on earth are they asking for access across the playground?

Will future residents of the new flats have a right of access? Call me an old cynic (and people do), but if the developer needs access across the playground, then surely the future residents will need it too. Or have I missed something?

Maybe Mango (sorry, KLA Builders) or Ryleys might like to enlighten us about how they thought access would work when they made the application. (I assume they are following this discussion avidly).

And I repeat (at the risk of getting boring) the planning approval and provision of access across the playground are totally unconnected (or have I missed something else).


Trust me, there are things i would rather be doing than picking away at this particular scab.....

The 'red line' area on the planning application location plan should include all land required for access to the site and carrying out the works. So scaffolding, for example, would need to be within the red line.

Setting aside (for now) the question of access from a public road, the developer would need to put up scaffolding around the new building (unless he's using skyhooks). The site plan is a bit unclear, but it looks as if the edge of the building is very close to the playground boundary.

So that would mean that the red line would need to extend about 1m into the playground. But wouldn't that mean that a Certificate B would need to include Calderdale, as owners of the playground? Don't remember seeing them included in the Certificate B on the amended application (let's ignore the original Certificate A for now).

I trust someone will let me know if I've missed something, or got it all wrong. I'm off to lie down in a dark room with a stiff drink - but I'll probably be back.....

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Thanks to Hebweb's excellent Planning Watch I've just sampled some of the documentation associated with planning application 15/00301/FUL. What comes across time and again is that Waterside Fold is a private road, and that the Environment Agency regards its residents as responsible for the river wall and its maintenance. This ought to make an immediate non-starter of the developer's plan to use Waterside Fold for access and to breach the river wall.

But the Planning Officer's Report that deems the project acceptable has only this to say about access:

'Access into the site would be from Victoria Road and then via Waterside Fold. [...] With regard to comments from objectors about the private status of Waterside Fold, whilst this is acknowledged, it is understood from previous applications that the applicant has rights of access over the road.'

In what is in general a disturbingly complacent report, alarm bells ring very loudly at this point. Surely the Planning Officer - one Richard Seaman - should have recognised the potential for dispute and asked for proof of the applicant's claimed right of access. Or if that proof was supplied with previous applications, it should have been referenced in his report. Instead - nothing. He has neither asked the question nor been supplied voluntarily with an answer.

In not doing elementary due diligence, Richard Seaman - and perhaps other Calderdale officers - has in my opinion a great deal to answer for. For one thing, he may condemn Waterside Fold residents to an expensive legal dispute. For another, he is allowing a developer to compromise a flood defence wall that the Environment Agency regards as not the developer's responsibility but that of Waterside Fold residents - a double whammy if ever there was one.

I cannot imagine any other developer being able to get this insane project passed. Why, therefore, is it going ahead with what looks like the active connivance of Calderdale? Something really stinks here.

From Cllr Steve Sweeney

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Although this is not my ward I have been following the thread as the playground comes under my remit as Cabinet member. There are a number of misconceptions in comments being made.

The developer is not requesting access to the site through the playground to build the flats, this is not possible and permission would not be granted.

Access or not through Waterside Fold is an issue between the residents and the developer and the Council is not party to any dispute.

In spite of comments made, under our strange planning laws, access is not an issue on which planning applications can be refused. This is strange but no stranger than the fact that you can apply for planning permission on land you don't own. It actually happened to me and my objections were deemed not valid planning grounds.

Whatever people's views about the planning application the issue I am concerned about is the playground and restrictions to it's use.
What is being disputed when referring to access is the installation of fencing to make the areas nearest the proposed development safe and inaccessible to children on the playground.

No agreement has yet been reached with the developer regarding this and whatever fencing is required will be at the cost of the developer and compensation will be payable. No amount has been agreed as yet but, whatever the amount, it will go to the little playground and officers will discuss it's use with local parents.

From Chris B

Friday, 30 October 2015

I'm afraid Cllr Sweeney is not entirely correct when he says that access is not an issue on which a planning application can be refused. It's a complex area, but access is (or should be) an important consideration in determining an application, and inadequate access could be legitimate grounds for refusal or the attachment of conditions to the approval.

He is correct about making an application for land not owned by an applicant, but Certificate B on the application should be completed and the appropriate notices issued to affected owners.

This particular application originally had a Certificate A completed (wrongly) and the subsequent Certificate B shows notice to have been served on Victoria Works (long demolished) and not Leedham Court. Very strange.

But Cllr Sweeney's post also leaves me very confused about what exactly is happening to the playground.

Is it being used for access? Access for what and by who? Will there be scaffolding? If so where?

I think we would all like a bit of clarity as to what exactly is being proposed.

From Michael Prior

Friday, 30 October 2015

As a matter of information, I have made a Freedom of Information request to Calderdale Council asking for all correspondence between the developer and the Council regarding use of the Little Park for whatever purpose and also similar correspondence with HSE so that we can find out if Cllr. Miles is correct.

From Cllr Steve Sweeney

Friday, 30 October 2015

My understanding is that the access is to put up the fencing because the scaffolding will be abutting the playground. The Council's Health and Safety officer feels that there needs to be a safe zone to ensure there is no risk to children if anything is dropped by people working on the the scaffolding. The fencing will also provide a barrier to stop children accessing the scaffolding itself.

I have requested Officers to meet next week with Ward Councillors and representatives of the Friends group to discuss the issues and clarify the details.

From Chris B

Friday, 30 October 2015

I've just had a thought: Waterside Fold could do with brightening up a bit. Wouldn't it be nice if the owners of the properties (assuming they are sure of their ownership) put some planters, large tubs, raised beds - maybe even a little greenhouse or two) along the wall next to the river. I'm sure there are people who would be happy to chip in a few quid to pay for it. Just a thought.

From Michael Prior

Friday, 30 October 2015

With regard to Cllr. Sweeney's contribution, the documents submitted by the developers relating to the planning conditions stated on 5 March that "Prior to construction the Contractor will be required to provide full method statements and public protection for the works". There is no sign of such statements and, now, it seems that the Council is having to take action to protect children in the Little Park from the actions of the Contractor.

Cllr. Miles assertion about the Health and Safety Executive now seem to have vanished and become a purely internal matter.

Can I suggest that our councillors do a little digging as to just why the normal practice, as outlined in the 5 March document, that a contractor should demonstrate how it will protect the public from its activities, seems to have been turned on its head. £75/week seems a small sum to avoid all normal responsibility.

From Nikki Harvey

Friday, 30 October 2015

Little Park Friend's stance is that we do not want any interference with the playground at all during this development. We understand that the developer will want to access the playground to erect scaffolding on the boundary edge of the development site which is what will necessitate the fencing. This fencing is at the demand of the HSE to prevent risk of injury to children.

To us two questions remain

  1. why should our children lose access to most of their playground for 10 months just because a developer has chosen to develop a site that is so constrained that there could be a risk of injury to children using the playground without a significant proportion of it being fenced off?
  2. How can the Access to Neighbouring Land Act be used (assuming it is) since section 1 clause 4 does not include action to facilitate development; it's much more restricted.

We would like the Council, responding to all the community concerns, to tell the developer and the HSE that they can't use the park to locate their security fencing etc, which will need to be on the developer's own land. And if that's difficult, well maybe they should have thought of that first.

So if the Council were to say 'no, not on our land', what can the developer do? They'd have to find another way to satisfy the HSE.

Little Park Friends have reinstated our Facebook page and are continuing to meet with local councillors who are supportive and pressing our case with the council. We will continue to post updates here and on our facebook site. Thanks.

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 31 October 2015

I wonder if Cllr Sweeney could just clarify a point.

His post suggests that the fencing is intended to make sure children can't get from the playground to the adjacent building site. So far so good as I read that as fencing on the perimeter of the site not encroaching onto a publicly owned playground.

But the statement that kicked this off was clear the fencing would encroach onto much of the playground. Is that the case or is it just perimeter fencing?

In fairness Cllr Sweeney is getting Calderdale officers to meet with locals which is a big step forward. But the position there should be yes to safety fencing, but no to any fencing that deprives our children of their right to use all the equipment in their local playground when they want.

I think we now need to focus on how we retain full use of the playground rather than the now agreed planning application. That said is anyone who watched the chaos at the planning meeting when the Garden Street development was discussed surprised at the confusion around this issue when if you recall officers still wanted to go ahead despite a room full of 500 angry locals.

Thankfully Anthony Rae stepped up and demolished their arguments and we could usefully learn from that.

From J Thomas

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The infamous Phil Bradby strikes again! Those of us around the Millpond remember him well from another ill advised scheme to try to build on a site with no independent access (indeed no access!), at detriment to wildlife and at potential enormously destabilising structural risk to surrounding residents. (See HebWeb feature on Chainsaw Tuesday)

Their tactics then were to denigrate both the land and the residents and set neighbours against one another. He entered this scheme with his business partner Mark Clyndes, under the auspices of 'Green Tops', a company set up for this sole purpose it seems. Are KLA Builders a similar front? I can't seem to find any reviews. They seem very low key for such a major build?

During this time, there was no concern for the local environment, for local people, for a community setting - only for profit. So for those of us involved in this previous 'incursion', it is no surprise.

The Little Park is a highly valued and well used resource. I have spent many hours there with my own children when they were young. The highlight of the park? The pirate ship! It's a place for imaginative play for children. Why should they lose out on that for one man's profit? 10 months is a long time when you are 3.

The Millpond is now community owned and continues to be the wild habitat it was before, used and enjoyed by many. What we learnt is that these matters rise and fall on details, and you have to be one step ahead. So a brief look at the documents says immediately there are a number of outstanding reports and legal paperwork which need to be submitted.

  1. European Protected Species Mitigation Licence (EPSML) is required
  2. The impact on otters or bats of the lighting as a result of the proposed development has not been quantified
  3. Removal of the decking should be undertaken during the months of September – end of October to avoid the bird nesting season and bat hibernation season
  4. Presumably that is why they are acting now, but do they have the required licence? "If a licence is not in place and bats are subsequently harmed or their roost affected then an offence under wildlife legislation will have been committed" - from their own report.
  5. The application does not include any measures for the maintenance or enhancement of the wildlife corridor as required under paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
  6. A mains connection has been proposed for foul drainage disposal. They are strongly advised to satisfy themselves, prior to determination, that there is capacity in both the receiving sewer and sewage treatment works to accommodate the discharge proposed. Please contact the sewerage undertaker, Yorkshire Water, to attain this information (can't see that this has been done)
  7. The access to the site is over a privately owned road maintained by the owners of properties at Waterside Fold (this was also the case with access to the site on the Millpond. We were prepared to 'close' the road with our vehicles and did so). There is also a difference (I believe) in the right of access on foot and the right of access for vehicles, plus as previous comments have pointed out the right for access for necessary reparation works and that for other not necessary works. There may be mileage in exploring what access rights the developer can claim for himself.

I am sure there are many more discrepancies in the documents attached to the application that the eagle eyed may seek out. If you have a little time, read a few. I have extracted some of the salient comments backing up the points I have made above. With regards to connections or associations which may or may not exist between individual Halifax Planning Committee members and the said developer, I couldn't comment.

Mr Bradby is certainly very quick to involve his legal team at any time. Thumbs up to Hebden Royd Town Council for its recommended refusal, odd that would not be given weight in making the planning decision.

I do not seem to be able to view the final planning approval notice. I would expect that it gave permission with conditions set that the outstanding paperwork was completed. If not the council too would surely be in violation of the protected species licensing and notwithstanding their unwillingness ever to challenge developers 'behaving badly' due to legal costs (also seen in the Millpond case when they failed to prosecute for a violation of tree protection orders), could find themselves embroiled in a costly prosecution.

With reference to the proxy applicants, I suggest a phone call to KLA Builders asking how they intend to manage the situation with regard to parking vehicles and site equipment, given they do not have the consent of Waterside Fold residents to use their land?

I have found a contact for them in Batley: 28 The Burrows, Batley WF17 8BE Tel: 07540408684. Interestingly for an agent undertaking such a major build, there is no website, but they do have a Facebook page where the last entry is from 2011. Amongst their friends .... non other than Mr Phil Bradby.

It is interesting that when he undertakes an entirely non-contentious project he does so under the auspices of 'Mango' so I can only infer that he does not want to risk contaminating his 'brand' with projects such as this one. I am happy to retract this if Mr Bradby is able to provide evidence to the contrary. Interestingly, I did click on the link to 'contact' on the Mango site for his thoughts, but it wasn't working! Again, I remain - not surprised.

Finally, I have seen the Health and Safety Executive attributed with the decision regarding fencing and the subsequent disruption to the little park. This may be a mis-representation, in the sense that they may require fencing but may not have specified where, or specified a distance from the building which encroaches the park. In which case, surely the building needs re-thinking?

I can say they were the only ones able to intervene and stop the destruction of the Millpond on the day the chainsaws arrived along with police and purchased muscle.

I would strongly advocate a meeting with them to discuss how children using the park will be protected from site traffic, especially if Waterside Fold residents do not allow them to park vehicles and site equipment on their land, as the only other place I can see for these vehicles, in the vicinity, is around the park.

Here's my notes and references which I hope can be posted on another page

From Chris B

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Excellent digging by J Thomas.

KLA Builders are indeed a small builder from Birstall, prop. Ben Johnston.

There seems to be a recently set up (Sept 15) company called KLA Contracting Ltd, directors Ben Johnston and Philip Bradby, reg office 201 Chapel Street, Manchester (Mango's office I believe).

I have given Nikki Harvey some hopefully useful information and pertinent questions to ask at her meeting next week in connection with fencing, access and HSE involvement. I'm sure she will report back on the outcome of her meeting.

The overall planning issues and the playground issues are separate, but also closely linked.

From Ned G

Sunday, 1 November 2015

On inspection today, I notice that a crack has appeared in the playground surface, near to the little swings, since the contractor has excavated the area adjacent to the park. Could the councillor please let us know what legal measures are in place to protect the park from subsidence resulting in the building works and whether a surveyor has looked at the subsidence and who is going to rectify any further problems?

From Chris B

Sunday, 1 November 2015

I'll have a quick look tomorrow morning. I am a surveyor, but not a structural engineer, but I know a man who is...

From Chris B

Monday, 2 November 2015

Just had a quick look at the playground. The only cracking I could see was around the rubber matting to the swings, which I don't think is anything to do with the building works, and is not a serious problem. But it's worth keeping an eye open for any damage that might be caused.

Good practice in developments like this is for the contractor to carry out a Dilapidation Survey, ideally with representatives of adjoining owners. This would establish the condition of adjoining properties before work started, in order to avoid arguments about damage caused by the works. I'm guessing that this wasn't done in this case.

I see that a Building Regulations application was made on 14th October, so Building Control are aware of the development and should be visiting the site at various stages of the work (but probably not very often).

While I was there, I noticed a contractor's van parked in Waterside Fold, as well as two other trucks involved in the works, one of which was using a grab to shift stuff over the wall.
It's not my business to tell the owners of Waterside Fold what to do, but if they are confident of their legal right to prevent this happening, I would suggest they do something sharpish (cars, caravans etc. parked along the wall would be a start).

The legal position regarding access to and usage of this land is still unclear to me, and perhaps the contractor does have a right to do this, but I do feel that the owners of Waterside Fold need to act quickly if it is not the case.

From Michael Prior

Monday, 2 November 2015

Anyone interested in how scaffolding can be erected over public land has only to walk down Oldgate. There a builder has had to put scaffolding over the pavement. The first level is securely planked whilst there is wire fencing all along it supplemented by stout webbing all the way up. The local Health and Safety officers have presumably passed this to the extent that pedestrians can actually walk under the scaffolding.
Why is it possible to do this on a road but, apparently, not on the Little Park? Is there something about future use that is not being revealed?

From Paul Murray

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

We residents of Waterside Fold, did try to fight the planning application from the start, but when the chair of planning committee decides to override the vote of his colleagues on the grounds only that, "he cannot expose the council to the cost of an appeal" Along with a document from the Environment Agency, (whom, 48 hrs prior to the meeting were in opposition to the development) addressed to the developer as "Dear Phil" shows what we were up against!

Notwithstanding, planning permission has been granted. Access to the site across Waterside Fold is harder to explain, our deeds do give access to the owner, (and I'm doing this from memory) "to his servants or agents, his successors to who he may grant etc etc. and something else about his "carts and wagons" etc.

What it boils down to is, the "right to access" ie to traverse/ cross over to get to etc. The deeds even include a codicil that his way should not be blocked. He has no right to set up camp as it were on Waterside fold, for building requirements, cabins, materials etc.

In a meeting we (the residents of Waterside and Phil Bradby) had in the Town Hall, the developer met with the residents and he told us that he would not be using Waterside Fold as a builders yard and agreed that would be intolerable. He gave further assurances that disruption would be kept to a minimum for the residents. It remains to be seen, of course. We had three vans parked all day long yesterday and four, 8 wheel concrete mixers and a pumping wagon there today.

At the full planning meeting in Halifax, no mention of access across the Little Park was made, and council officials to my mind, seemed very reluctant to challenge the application, simply, and repeatedly saying, "It's within guidelines".

We shall continue to observe!

From Chris B

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Thank you Paul Murray for clarifying the position regarding access to the site via Waterside Fold.

Looks like there is nothing you can do to prevent the contractor doing what he's been doing so far, but what about demolishing part of the wall for access?

Did the notice that the owners of Nos 9 - 16 were served with on 19th March 2015 mention demolition of the wall?

Good luck, and stay alert.

Now back to the playground...

From Cllr Janet Battye

Thursday, 5 November 2015

In my view, this site should not have anything built on it - it's too small, too close to the river and other buildings. With my fellow ward Councillors, I objected to the planning application and attended the Planning Committee to voice my objections and support the residents of Waterside Fold.

In the Planning Committee meeting, amongst saying other things about it, I raised particular concerns about the impact on the playground - the proposed building is too close to it and will dominate it. The Developer tried to give reassurances about that.

And then I was appalled to get an email from Council Officers saying that they had been doing a risk assessment on the playground of the building work and that it might have to partly close.

My immediate reaction (as in the Planning Committee) was to say that, no, this can't happen - it's the only play space for children in the area, heavily used by them and the parents have invested a lot of time and effort in getting it right.

I am pleased to say that yesterday we had a really productive meeting (with representatives of Little Park present) with Council Officers to talk it through. As it happens the Council's Building Control Officer turned up at the same time (I think that he's visiting daily to watch/inspect the building work which is still at ground level).

We're waiting to hear back from the Council Officers (who will now negotiate with the Developer) but we agreed what we're looking for - very minimal impact on the playground and, hopefully, a good deal for them for the future.

Watch this space !

In the longer-term, this does underline the importance of making sure that we get both the Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan right for Hebden Bridge. Consultation on the current stage of development of the Local Plan (we're told) is in Hebden Bridge Town Hall on Monday Nov 16th, 4 to 7pm

From Vikki Uttley

Thursday, 5 November 2015

How long is it going to take the builders to finish the build? Not as long, I hope, as the flats near what was the Hole in the Wall pub. It would be great if they levelled and grassed over the site and went away. Dream on

From David Tut

Friday, 6 November 2015

Well done the Friends of the Little Park for standing up to these proposed plans at the new flats at the end of Waterside Fold joining Victoria Road which as far as I have gathered not many local residents knew much about and don't think is a good idea.

lt will make the Little Park a back garden and not a pleasing place of space and adventure so now the residents of Waterside Fold need more help than ever before as many of them are of a certain age and don't have the support they need, so more the better.

From Chris B

Friday, 6 November 2015

I've just been having a close look at the plans and elevations submitted with the planning application.

The drawings are unclear (even to me, and I do this sort of thing for a living) as to relative levels of the new building and playground, and also to the exact distance between the building and playground boundary.

One thing puzzles me. Apart from the upper floor windows overlooking the playground, there appear to be two bedroom windows on the rear elevation, and a bedroom, lounge and bathroom window on the side elevation. From my reading of the drawings, these will be at playground level, and a matter of inches from the playground boundary.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this is not very clever (for all sorts of reasons)?

From Chris B

Sunday, 8 November 2015

I know it's not my turn, but I just want to say a couple of things, and then I'll try and let things lie for a bit (or until the scaffolding goes up on the playground, when I'm sure things will kick off again).

The planning application has been approved, and however much we might feel that the process was deeply flawed, it's done, and there's nothing we can do to change that now.

But there is a way Calderdale could redeem themselves. The developer needs the use of part of the playground to carry out the works, if only as a 'safety zone'. The fact that they have got planning approval does not put an obligation on any landowner, including Calderdale, to allow them access to or use of one inch of their land.

So, why are Calderdale agreeing to this?

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 is not meant to allow access for development works, and I think even a lawyer with Phil Bradby's cunning would be hard pressed to make a case for it.

So here is a chance for Calderdale to prevent this development being built, with no risk as far as I can see of legal costs or any other penalty.

Can someone from Calderdale Council, officer or elected member, either explain to us why this is happening, or tell me that I'm talking nonsense?

From Pedro de Wit

Monday, 9 November 2015

I have read the contributions with great interest because I have been involved with trying to stop this planning application and the ones that were submitted for the same site in the past.

What has been quite clear to me from the beginning is that this time the involved parties (developer, council etc) have been very determined to get the application passed no matter what.

The fact that it is an unsuitable location, that the development increases the risk of flooding, that the playground is under threat and that many people objected with good arguments were all swepped aside.

Whatever the Friends of the Little Park do to stop this madness has my ful support but to be honest I can't see it make much difference at this stage. People have been trying do do the right thing, by writing objections and engaging with the council and the developer. Although everyone was very nice and polite it didn't get us anywhere.

It was made clear to us that if we would block access or do anything to stop this development that it would be the residents who would be in trouble and open to liability claims.

A few years back a similar application was submitted. At that time we managed to stop it going ahead because the planning officers in Halifax agreed that it was inappropiate to have a block of appartments so close to a playground.

It was also said that the existence of such a development would form a threat to the future of the playground. I don't know what has changed but none of this seems to matter anymore.

My fear is that once the apartments are build it won't be long before the residents will start complaining about noise and nuisance from the play ground. What will the council do then? You can't move an apartment block but you can quite easily move a playground and sell the land of to a developer.

From Vikki Uttley

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Well said Pedro. Maybe this was the idea from the very start, to take over the Little Park and build houses on it. But If anything positive has come from this, it is the groundswell of the 'community', (a word the people at the top hate to hear) against the development - articulate knowledgeable and many.

I am sure that if most of us had known or taken the time to find out, myself very much included, we could have helped the residents of Waterside Fold from the beginning. Hebweb has been invaluable for information, it is not over yet. Planning could see sense. Our community ethos is strong.

From Chris B

Monday, 23 November 2015

My request for someone to enlighten me as to why Calderdale should allow a developer access to and use of the playground seems to have resulted in a deafening silence. Can anyone help? Cllr Sweeney? Anyone…

From David Tut

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

I would urge all parents to keep their kids well away from the Little Park on Victoria Road. As I'm sending this letter, there is an asbestos removal team working on site.

They kept that under the bridge?

From Steve Sweeney

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Hi Chris B. If you check back on the thread you will find the answer. The Council is not giving the developer access to the playground to build the flats and would not do so. The Council are insisting that a barrier is erected to stop children being able to climb on the scaffolding where it is adjacent to the playground fence.

The Council's safety officer is also insisting that there is a gap created so that it reduces the risk of anything dropped from the scaffolding hitting anyone below. As the risk is created by the developer, he is required to pay for and construct the barrier as well as pay compensation. It has been agreed that the compensation will go towards increasing the equipment on the playground.

From David Tut

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Well I believe that Cllr Steve Sweeney does show some interest in the Little Park and Waterside Fold so don't you agree that the finding of asbestos on new building site is a matter of grave concern to all of us working, living, and playing in that area and could he and fellow councillors have a good look at the situation!

From Chris B

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Thanks for replying Cllr Sweeney, but I'm afraid I'm not convinced. The fact that the development requires part of the playgrouund to be fenced off for safety reasons is effectively exactly the same as giving part of the playground to the developer to allow them to build the flats.

If the Council refused to fence off a safety zone, then the developer could not build their building safely, and could therefore be prevented from trying to do so (try and think what you would do if an unpleasant neighbour wanted to build an unpleasant building alongside your garden fence).

And I'm still puzzled as to how a four storey building can be built right up to the boundary of the playground without scaffolding being built on the playground. Or have I missed something...


I have formally asked our local Councillors to confirm with the planners that Condition 9 of the planning approval has been complied with (site investigation report submitted and approved).

This document should be viewable on the Calderdale website, and hopefully will set everyones mind at rest.

From Paul Clarke

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

I think our local councillors are doing their best but I wondered if they can confirm that the swings and pirate ships will be available for the children at all times - albeit with adequate safety measures in place - throughout the build?

That is the real issue here and we need clarity on the extent of the fencing.

From Steve Sweeney

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Yes they will.

From Chris B

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Hutchinson van was there this morning: a couple of blokes seemed to be excavating buckets of muck and loading them into the van.

No decontamination unit, no special protective gear being used, no obvious warning signs to warn the public. I'm not sure what's going on here, but I'm (unsurprisingly) a bit suspicious.

Cllr Dave Young has asked Richard Seaman of Calderdale planners to confirm whether Condition 9 of the planning approval (proper site investigation report to address contamination issues, to be done before work commences) has been complied with.

If it hasn't (and I'll let you all know whether I think it has when Mr Seaman replies), then I think this enters a new level of unacceptability (asbestos, small children........?)

Asbestos removal

Asbestos removal van at Little Park site

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

That's great news that the children will now be able to use their own playground.....well done to everyone who has worked behind the scenes to secure such a massive turnabout.

Public and very informed pressure on Hebweb has helped proving once again that democracy is still alive and kicking in Hebden.

From Chris B

Monday, 30 November 2015

So, we've had a van marked "Asbestos Removal" parked in Waterside Fold for a few days. There may or may not be asbestos on the site (the contractor may just have borrowed a van from someone who is an asbestos remover).

But we also have a situation where it is unclear whether or not the developer has submitted the required site investigation report addressing contamination issues (no answer from Richard Seaman yet).

Our wonderful webmaster even posted a photo of said van on this website.

But none of this seems to have produced much in the way of concern or outrage from the good people of Hebden Bridge, or from their elected representatives. I know that as yet we have no definite evidence of asbestos on this site, but isn't anyone else just a little bit concerned? Has everyone forgotten what asbestos is?


I've just had a reply from Richard Seaman. He does not confirm or deny whether a site investigation report has been submitted as required by Condition 9 of the planning approval.

He says"...our Environmental Health Officers have advised that in relation to Condition 9 there is no concern about contamination in the soil itself..." and also "...it was established in 2003 that asbestos wasn't present. Notwithstanding this, the removal of asbestos is policed by the HSE".

I'm posting this reply without comment, so make of it what you will.

From Steven Hutchinson

Thursday, 3 December 2015

On behalf of Hutchinson Demolition, we would like to let the general public of Hebden Bridge to know, there is no reason to worry about asbestos and contamination during the bridge deck romoval. The van is simply one of our fleet vehicles and no asbestos is present on site. Please, if any issues need to be discussed, call at the site and bring them up with us. We are more than happy to talk to you.

From Chris B

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Thanks to Steven Hutchinson for posting on HebWeb, and I hope he understands that the history of this development is bound to make people a bit wary of anyone involved with it. Nothing personal, and I hope the weather improves and they don't get washed away.

From Vikki Uttley

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Talking to someone who used to deliver raw asbestos for Cape Asbestos to several sites around Hebden Bridge and Old Town, one of them being Brown's mill/ factory. Brown's was situated, as far as I can ascertain on the site where the Little Park and bridge are. I am sure there must be photographic evidence of this and written inventory's of what the mill had delivered to the site. The date given me was late sixties. Is the site clean? Has anyone seen written evidence to this effect? There must still be more people 'out there' who could help with this enquiry.


I am misinforming you, Browns mill was situated where Waterside Fold houses have been built. It's close but was not situated over Little Park. Sorry about that.

From Chris B

If anything good is to come from the recent flooding, we must ensure that no one's home or business, or their safety, is unecessarily put at risk by thoughtless development.

Enough people have suffered as it is, without making things worse. Anyone who has seen the pictures of this site yesterday will wonder why on earth anyone thought that this was a sensible place to build, and also wonder about the madness of granting planning permission for a block of flats in this location.

I'm not sure what happened to the houses in Waterside Fold, but I'm sure that an opening in the stone wall between them and the river would have made things an awful lot worse. I hope they are all safe and relatively undamaged.

Sadly, we will have more floods, possibly even worse floods, and probably well within the next 100 years.

I trust that Phil Bradby will now acknowledge the foolishness of this development, walk away, and leave us in peace.

I also hope that Calderdale will look more carefully at granting planning permission for any development that could be affected by flooding: their current guidelines obviously aren't adequate.

Building on this site cannot and must not happen, not now, and not in the future.

Little Park

Site of houses planned to be built over the river between
Waterside Fold and the Little Park. Photo: HebWeb

From Paul M

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Dear neighbours and friends,

To continue Chris's comment, please see below the open letter I have sent to a Christian Merriman of the environment agency, this is the fellow who withdrew the agency's objection at the last minute on the grounds he was satisfied with the Developers explanation that building on this spot and taking away a section of the wall would be "no threat" to flooding! As an open letter I copied to all I could think of, other councillors, Craig Whittaker, other staff at the agency etc. (I have yet to learn how to post a photo on this site!) letter:

"...Dear Mr. Merriman (and all) I must refer this matter to you as you were involved in the case before planning was granted. The residents of Waterside Fold warned of the inherent risk to this development. The matter of the wall being a primary flood defence, and as you made clear, our responsibility. The Agency at first objected to the development
on the grounds that we put forward, (risk of flooding) But on the eve on the planning committee decision, your objection was suddenly withdrawn. (without fanfare or notice)

I would ask you to please consider the attached photograph taken the other day, the day of the Hebden Bridge floods, it shows clearly what can happen, it shows also the wall was our last line of defence, and had the wall not been there we certainly would have suffered the same fate as the town. The water you can see in front of the house was what had
managed to seep through, but the wall held the torrent back. This is the stretch of wall the developer proposes to remove to simply allow access to his development, this is the stretch of of wall that we were reminded by the agency was our responsibility and that the agency objected to the proposal and would not grant authority to work as it represented a flood risk!

This is the objection that was withdrawn without fanfare, 24 hrs before the planning committee sat. Waterside Fold has never before been flooded, (we have empirical evidence from our elderly neighbours and residents) and this flooding was almost certainly not helped by the developers building detritus causing a "beaver like" damming effect.

Scaffolding had been erected under the platform, trapping timber and other flotsam from upstream, surface construction in the form of a dwarf wall, security fencing, pallets of bricks and other building paraphernalia.
Please, oh please, will no-one see the folly of this development and step in, using your authority to revoke the licence/planning permission for this ill-conceived development?

Over 50% of The residents of Waterside Fold are elderly, we do not have the strength in numbers or the financial wherewithal to fight this in the courts, we need yourselves as our elected representatives to stand up and fight for this on our behalf.

We look forward to your reply, the clock is ticking, and it's starting to rain again!

Paul Murray

0n behalf of the residents of Waterside Fold, Hebden Bridge HX7 8JD

From Chris B

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Excellent letter Paul, and please could you post any replies you might get on the HebWeb. And let us all know if building resumes in the new year.

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Further to Paul M's message: how credible are the proposals that persuaded the Environment Agency to withdraw their objections? What the report to the Planning Committee said is this:

"The applicant subsequently submitted amended plans (which you can see here) showing the floor and soffit levels of the deck raised above the flood level and extension of the flood wall. The Environment Agency has been re-consulted and has withdrawn the objection, subject to conditions for the flood risk mitigation works to be carried out." And Condition 11/3 is 'The proposed flood walls shall be tied into existing defences and shall be no lower than 104.8mAOD'

What this does is to take out the section of the Waterside Fold flood wall, in order to open up access to the development, and replace it with walls of equal height on the upstream and downstream side of the access bridge. The thinking must be: 'Waterside Fold is still protected because the upstream wall on the access bridge will prevent flood waters sweeping through the gap now opened up in the riverbank flood wall'.

But will a wall across the flow of a raging flooded river perform in the same way as a wall parallel to the flow? The latter doesn't have to withstand the full force of the flow, just have sufficient structural integrity to prevent overtopping; so the river could be just inches below the top of the wall and flooding still won't occur.

But as soon as a raging river reaches even the base of a wall across its flow, won't it start to exert great pressure on it; and won't the wall act as a dam, causing the river levels upstream from the wall to back-up and rise more than they otherwise would – maybe overtopping the riverbank flood wall? As the river rises almost to the top of the walls, the riverbank wall won't be threatened with failure, but what happens to the wall across the flow? If it failed, or was overtopped, the river would then surge through the gap opened in the riverbank wall for the access bridge, and not just just into Waterside Fold but onto Victoria Road and into town – as we saw happening for the first time on Saturday 26th.

So has a crack been jemmied open in the flood defences of the town (such as they are) at the very moment that its vulnerability has yet again been demonstrated? Until the EA, and Calderdale Council (who approved the developer's proposal) can publicly demonstrate – maybe with modelling – that this scenario can't and won't happen then I think all work on the development should cease.

From Julie C

Thursday, 31 December 2015

The other thing Anthony was that when the flood came it brought down with it some big trees, branches and other debris - this would soon smash up any wall across the river. You only need to see the state of the river wall up by the Hebden Vale centre to see the destructive power of the river, or perhaps take note from the fate of Tadcaster's Bridge as it plummeted into the raging waters. The Pitt report talking about planning and flood risk said that building work shouldn't adversely effect neighbouring property, or create a flood risk. The whole site, where they plan to build, was also inundated, and there isn't enough space to move the building back from the river towards the Park. It always was an inappropriate development, and this flood has shown that very dramatically.

From Chris B

Thursday, 31 December 2015

I'm not aware of any mechanism for revoking a planning approval in a situation like this, apart from Judicial Review which we are now too late for.

Does Anthony, or anyone else know of anything that the Council or government could do if the developer is foolish enough to continue with this scheme, which in the light of recent events would obviously endanger other areas of Hebden Bridge?

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 31 December 2015

I wouldn't put it past the developer to either sue Calderdale for giving him the OK to build, or insist that the development goes ahead with access now through the playground. Maybe both. Seriously.

From Chris B

Friday, 1 January 2016

I've got a horrible feeling that Graham might be right.

There seem to be four possible scenarios:

1. The developer decides to cut his losses and walks away (but does he try to recoup his losses from Calderdale?)

2. The developer is somehow (and this may not be possible) forced to stop the development, in which case he will definitely look for compensation.

3. He carries on with the development as planned, leaving a probable weak point in our flood defences, which could have catastrophic consequences for Waterside Fold and beyond.

4. He redesigns the development so that access and parking is from Victoria Road, which would obviously depend on Calderdale giving him all or some of the playground, not for a few months but permanently.

This development seems to me to have the potential to become a crucial test of how Calderdale Council, The Environment Agency and others respond to the issues around flooding and development (unless Option 1 happens).

We need to see how all parties respond to Paul's letter, and I would also suggest that contact needs to be made with Philip Bradby to try and find out what his plans are (I assume we can drop the pretence that KLA Builders are the developers of this site).

If Philip Bradby or anyone from KLA is reading this, we would love to know what your plans are.

From Julie C

Friday, 1 January 2016

It might be possible to approach the Local Govt Ombudsman to try and get the something done about the development. It looks like it is possible up to 12 months from the decision. It is quite possible, however, that the developer could claim lots of compensation from the Council for any revocation!

From Ray Storr

Friday, 1 January 2016

I submit to you photographic evidence taken during the recent flooding of Hebden Bridge, which makes the granting of Planning Permission for eight flats on Victoria Road an utter nonsense!

You can clearly see on the photos how the swollen river rose right to the top of the wall, splashing over and only just sparing the local residents.

If this wall had already been opened up for vehicular access the river would have poured through the gap and very badly affected the whole of Valley Road and the surrounding streets with millions of gallons of water inundating the Town Hall before finally broadening its search for entry into an already vastly swollen river.

It is surely clear that the builder must be stopped immediately using whatever political instrument necessary to revoke the Planning Permission already granted.

See photos

From Cllr Dave Young

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Hi Ray,
As your Labour Councillor for Calder Ward I fought against this proposed development at the Planning Committee as I always thought it would enhance the chances of possible flooding in Waterside Fold if this Development was approved.

Unfortunately the Environmental Agency withdrew their objections 24 hours before the Planning Committee at Calderdale Council met to determine this Planning Application.

Well what we witnessed in Hebden Bridge on Boxing Day was beyond anyone's wildest dreams and has caused such a devastation to our lovely Town.

Paul Murray from Waterside Fold on behalf of the Residents has written to the Environmental Agency to ask them to step in following the Boxing Day disaster and reconsider their decision.

Hopefully the developer will consider the situation, cut his losses and walk away from the development which in my opinion was never appropriate in the first place.

From Kez Armitage

Saturday, 2 January 2016

One point has already been made on this thread, but needs re-emphasizing and disseminating to everyone in Hebden.

Ray Storr hits the nail on the head. This is not simply about the threat to the houses on Waterside Fold (bad enough as that is alone) Once that vital wall is breached, the flood water will have access to Victoria Road, Valley Road, Hangingroyd Land et al. It will make the devastating situation we've experienced in town far worse.

Sadly, proposals for flood prevention and alleviation seem to be piecemeal to say the least. Observations from local people, such as those from people living on Waterside Fold need to be collected, collated and acted upon. These are the people who know the 'pinch points' of our water courses - probably far more so than the Environment Agency.

Until such time, there really must be a complete moratorium on development of sites that are known to flood. It's clearly nonsense to use the authorities' estimate that this is a 'one in a hundred years event'. We all know that is utterly wrong. The problem seems to be that there is no legal method of rescinding planning permission once granted. But surely drastic and indeed dangerous situations require drastic measures, and the government should be looking at passing emergency legislation.

We simply cannot allow a few greedy developers to exacerbate the suffering of so many people in our town. If they won't walk away from their crackpot developments voluntarily, then they need to be forced to do so.

From Paul M

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Dear Neighbours, to continue: encouraged by Chris B comments I did a little research and discovered there might be a mechanism to have planning permission revoked. it seems Section 97 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 contains the following:

15.06 A planning permission may be revoked or modified under s 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This is not strictly an enforcement mechanism as it does not seek to remedy any unlawful action but removes or alters a planning permission. It does, however, provide a means of exercising greater control' remedying erroneous planning decisions. Section 97( 1) provides:'If it appears to the local planning authority that it is expedient to revoke or modify planning permission to develop land granted on an application made under this Part, the authority may by order revoke or modify the permission to such an extent as they consider expedient:

The authority shall have regard to the development plan and to other material considerations" Revocation and modification deals with development which has not yet taken place:"

The power conferred by this section may be exercised (.a) where the planning permission relates to the carrying out of building or other operations, at any lime before those operations have been completed:
A revocation or modification order of a planning permission for building or other operations does not affect so much of those operations as has been carried out............."

This is just a snippet, the original is v. long.

What would help now neighbours, is, if you know someone out there who can help/guide me as to whom, exactly, we might make such an application. I've never dabbled in these matters before, and I have no idea as to which department or person to approach in the first instance. Up to now, of all the mails to all the departments (inc Whittaker and the various bods in the EA, all have auto responded with "on holiday until January".

regards Paul M

From Chris B

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Paul's research indicates that Section 97 might be an avenue worth following, but it would obviously be something that Calderdale and/or the Secretary of State would have to initiate.

It occured to me that it might be useful to set up a small group of people who could meet face to face, try and agree what should be done, meet with council officers etc. and generally use our various skills to sort out this mess.

A planning expert would be useful (Anthony Rae?). perhaps a councillor or two?

I'm happy to co-ordinate it if people think it would be a good idea. Send me an email if you're interested.

From Eleanor Land

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Any new development should not be allowed if there is any chance whatsoever that it may lead to flooding. This town has had 3 major floods in as many years. This town (and country for that matter) should be run for the benefit of all it's residents, not the money making schemes of the few. This development was never appropriate in this location, everyone except the fool who gave it permission realises that.

From Steve Sweeney

Monday, 4 January 2016

It would be useful to get the view of an engineer as to the increased risk before proceeding in any other way.

From Chris B

Monday, 4 January 2016

Cllr Sweeney: that sounds like a good idea.

I assume that as a Calderdale councillor you (or one of your colleagues) can arrange for an engineer to inspect the site and report on the implications of continuing work.

I'm sure you would agree that this needs doing as a matter of urgency, and I think we would all expect to be kept informed of the engineer's findings as well as any actions taken by Calderdale in this matter.

From Paul M

Monday, 4 January 2016

Dear Neighbours, Of all the emails I've sent out I thought I'd share the one just received from the nice man at the Environment Agency who withdrew the objection. It reads...

"...Dear Mr Murray,

"Thank you for sharing this information with us.

"We have been in communication with the developer over the past week to ensure that the detritus is removed from the watercourse and we have informed them that the scaffold structure must be removed from the watercourse once river levels allow safe access for the contractors. The developer has agreed to cease works to remove the current bridge structure until further notice and has agreed to review the planned development in light of the recent flood event. We will be formally sharing the latest information for Hebden Water at this site with the developer and with Calderdale Council and will be looking to work with both to take into account this information.

"Kind regards,

"Christian Merriman | FCRM Advisor | Partnership & Strategic Overview Team, West Yorkshire, Flood & Coastal Risk Management"

Neighbours, interesting to note, I've heard nothing whatsoever from our MP Craig Whittaker, nothing whatsoever from the Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss to who I mailed! I will of course post anything that does come in.
Paul M

From Chris B

Monday, 4 January 2016

Thanks for sharing that Paul. Good news as far as it goes, but I suspect there's a long battle still to be fought. Let's see what Calderdale come up with.

The option of the developer being given access and/or parking across all or part of the playground (instead of using Waterside Fold and the bridge across the river) is still a theoretical possibility. I will contact Friends of the Little Park and update them.

As for Craig Whittaker (and I'm sure I will be criticised by some for scoring cheap political points), his total lack of action, help or even sympathy for the hundreds of his constituents whose lives have been devastated by these floods is a disgrace. I never expected much from him, but his recent behaviour has surprised even cynical old me.

From Steve Sweeney

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

I don't know where the idea of the developer being given the park as car park or access for development has come from. It is possible that they could do, as it is possible that it could be destroyed by a meteor strike - all things are possible. This sort of misinformation is unhelpful and stresses people unnecessarily.

From Michael Prior

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Just to inform people: in November, I asked Calderdale Council under FOI for a copy of all correspondence between the developer and the Council concerning the Little Park. In response, I got a bundle of email, all of which refers strictly to the needs for proper fencing of the scaffolding. There was no mention of any access need so I think we can accept that the Council has been straight on this.

This means that any access issue will have to be started from scratch.

From Chris B

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

I did use the word "theoretical" when I brought up the idea of the developer being given the playground, which I suppose puts it the same category as a meteor strike.

Bearing in mind the past history of Phil Bradby and Calderdale, particularly around the planning application for this particular development, I don't think it is unreasonable to raise theoretical possibilities such as this, however far fetched and ludicrous they may seem.

From Liz Anstee

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

So I'd just like to raise a question about the car parking which the builders I understand we're going to facilitate on the bridge. I did try and see the link to the amended plans but the document is unavailable on calderdale website. I can't therefore  understand where a wall is to be erected that didn't raise any planning concerns. My point is I was there on the day when the portaloo, scaffolding, tree trunks and random large debris sailed down the river at great speed threatening the bridge , snagging where they could , and I cannot see that this would not also happen to any vehicles parked there. Thus endangering not only the residents of waterside fold with flooding at that end but also potentially causing structural damage to the bridge itself following any impact.

Another point about flood risk assessments. They test probability. What we have is reality. That must take precedence over procedure and could potentially be used to revoke the planning permission. There is now evidence where before there was only conjecture based on assessed risk and this is a new condition which must impact on the original decision.

Finally if all this effort comes to nothing and the council do not support us we must let the developer know that we will be posting large pictures of the Boxing Day floods in the gardens on waterside fold for potential buyers to look at. You could call it reverse PR. Maybe that will influence his decision.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

If Cllr Sweeney had read the thread he'd know it was my post of 31 December that raised the possibility of the developer demanding access across the playground, and I stand by it. As Chris points out, given this developer's track record combined with Calderdale's curious willingness to give in to him, nothing can be ruled out. The fact that this folly got planning permission in the first place is pretty jaw-dropping. Rather than finger-wag, it might be more helpful if councillors like Mr Sweeney made some effort to find out why this happened and ensure that it doesn't happen again.

From Paul M

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Dear neighbours, just to keep you in the loop as it were, I copy below a mail sent to all the councillors on this topic and to our MP Craig Whittaker. I have yet to hear back from any of them.

Despite an earlier post, more materials arrived at the site this morning and men have been working all day, fetching and carrying laying blocks etc.

"Dear Mr. Sutherland,
Back in March 2015, you may recall, a planning application meeting , where, despite strong opposition from local residents, the Environment Agency and various wildlife protection organisations, plus your own committee members voting against the application, you took it upon yourself to override the vote and approve the application. Your excuse for approval was, "I cannot risk exposing the council to the cost of an appeal".

Mr Sutherland, please consider the attached photos of the Boxing Day flooding in Waterside Fold. The residents came within just feet of suffering the same fate as our neighbours in the town. The wall you will see is the only thing that was stopping the deluge from flooding our homes, and then making it's watery way on down Valley Road to join up with the river Calder in the town centre.

This is the wall, councillor, that you have approved the partial demolition of, simply to provide the developer Phil Bradby with access to his site on the other side of the river! You were informed at the time of the folly of granting a planning application that would increase the risk of flooding, and you chose to ignore this advice.

Councillor Sutherland, we must now officially ask you to exercise your authority under section 97 of the Town & Country Planning Act to revoke that planning permission. We have requested that the Secretary of State for the Environment approve and counter sign your application to revoke.
As for your fears of "exposing the council to the cost of an appeal" you can now fear exposing the council to the cost of compensation to the developer for the loss of his application! Can we respectfully remind you that on his application, under item 12 (p2) the applicant answered "No" to the question of "will flood risk be increased elsewhere". Clearly this is a false statement, and on these grounds alone, you are obliged to revoke the planning permission as it was erroneously granted.

If this development is not stopped, and the flood defence is breached, you will also find the council having to explain why it negligently and wilfully exposed residents to danger of flooding and possible risk of injury or death. Please note the height of the water relevant to the wall, it over topped the wall, meaning that had the development been completed, any
residents of the apartment would have been trapped, there being no other exit from the building.

We look forward to your reply in due course Sir......"


From Liz Anstee

Thursday, 7 January 2016

So much for the developer agreeing to suspend work whilst a review is carried out as reported by the DoE. It must have been a quick review as the builders are laying bricks as I write. They're obviously trying to now get on with it as quickly as possible as it's harder to get things taken down once they're built and he will want to sell them before the next flood. This site is a danger and risk now to the whole of the town. Must be time for the photos in gardens or at least some negative publicity in the HB Times?

From Chris B

Thursday, 7 January 2016

I haven't seen the site for a few days, but it is possible that they are just replacing parts of the deck that were removed. They are also supposed to be removing the scaffolding under the deck.

I think plenty of people will be keeping an eye on what goes on and reporting it on HebWeb. I also understand that photographs are being taken of the site regularly, which could be a useful record if it all ends up in court.

From Kate Anstee

Monday, 11 January 2016

The bricks currently being erected are forming some sort of wall which looks like it's going to form the wall of a (future) building and the scaffolding under the deck still has yet to be removed.

From Chris B

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

I've just had a quick look at the site, and it looks like Liz and Kate were right: they are building the front wall of the block. I spoke to one of the blokes on site, who said that as far as he knew, work was carrying on as before. The proprietor of KLA Builders is Ben Johnston, who wasn't on site when I was there.

The instruction from the Environment Agency (probably another "Dear Phil" letter) doesn't seem to have been passed down to site, or perhaps it is being ignored.

In case none of our local councillors are reading this, I will be emailing them today and asking them to take this up with Calderdale Council at the highest level.

It seems to me inconceivable that this project should carry on without at the very least a thorough review by the Environment Agency and Calderdale of the implications for Hebden Bridge's flood defences.

From Paul M

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Friends and Neighbours, I thought an update would be in order. Only this morning I've had a phone call from Christian Merriman, he of the Environment Agency. (It should be noted I think, of all the councillors, MP's et al I have written to, he is the only one to have replied and engaged)

This is where we are. Mr Merriman has had talks with the developer, about his concerns. He tells me the developer shared the concerns
and has agreed to cease further work "on the bridge structure (including the wall) for the moment. If we read earlier postings, that is what it said,
"work on the bridge demolition". No commitment to abandon the actual build was promised.

Mr Merriman also tells me has tried more than once to get the council to engage in this discussion, and they have so far failed to agree to meet!
He will continue to try and get a commitment from them to at least engage in discussion.

With regard to the remaining skeletal scaffolding, the contractors did call and recovered as much planking / poles / fittings as they could but, although water levels have (obviously) receded, they are still quite high, and certainly fast flowing. It could well be a legitimate H&S issue to have men in the water just at the moment. For myself, I would accept this. I have made Mr Merriman aware that the scaffold is still in place.

This my understanding, the wall actually is the property of the Environment Agency. It is listed with them as an "asset". We, as riparian residents, have the obligation for maintenance. I guess much like a tenant has the obligation to maintain decorative condition but in granting a "licence to work" the EA had given authority for the work on the wall! In the light of recent events, they have asked the developer to hold work on the wall until other avenues can be explored.

Mr Merriman has agreed to meet with myself and another resident of the Fold, to consider our views, evidence, and to take any questions from residents that we can collate. He will then have the benefit of a first-hand site visit. The meeting is in the next week, and I might have more to share once we've met.

I do think it would be appropriate to continue to put pressure on local councillors as they do seem to have been somewhat dilatory in dealing with this matter.

Regards, and thank you for your continuing interest and support.

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

This is the message I sent to ward councillors Battye, Miles and Young on Sat 2nd January:

'You may have seen my post on Hebweb about the credibility of the proposals put forward by the developer of the scheme next to the Little Park which were sufficient for the Environment Agency to withdraw their previous objection. Regardless of whether there are any powers to withdraw or pause the planning permission already granted, can I suggest that you might want to consider putting two points primarily to Richard Seaman, Head of Development Control but maybe also the EA:

'If, on considering the argument I've put forward, both the Council and the EA still believe that the approved proposals remain viable, they nonetheless need to explain and demonstrate this publicly and with evidence not just to the immediate residents of Waterside Fold but also of a wider area around Victoria/Valley Roads and Hangingroyd Lane. If they do not provide this information and reassurance, and should the developer proceed with his works to the point of actually seeking to breach the riverbank flood wall in order to open up the access to his site, then I think there is a possibility of some kind of community protest - because there is a very great deal at stake - to prevent that happening, which of course it would be best to avoid.

'Again assuming that both the Council and the EA still believe that the approved proposals remain viable, and these are actually implemented, and then in a subsequent flood these 'flood walls across the river' do nonetheless fail, with the area and properties round about being flooded: who will have the legal liability for the resultant damage? Will it be the developer (who proposed this very specific change to the existing public infrastructure), the local planning authority, the Environment Agency… or no-one? I think it is really important that this legal position is clarified now.'

Having not heard back straightaway I asked Cllr Miles when I bumped into her on Monday whether these two questions had been put to Planning, and I understood her to say Yes. I also mentioned the importance of an early reply to Cllr Battye yesterday.

For the avoidance of doubt my reference in this private message to the 'possibility of some kind of community protest ... to prevent' the breaching of the Waterside Fold walls was not some implicit threat. It's just acknowledging what can easily be anticipated to be a possible occurrence. Answers to both these questions ought to be helpful in trying to resolve this situation calmly.

From Paul M

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Hello friends, neighbours, just an update. Firstly, a correction on my part. My last mail criticised the lack of response from local councillors, I should have made clear I meant those from Calderdale/ Halifax/ Planning et al. Ward Councillor Dave Young has always replied to my mails and provided me with any information I've needed, as has Janet Battye.

Now, Just In.. I have also been copied in to a mail from the developer, extract here…

"We are working with the EA to review our proposals for the site and will not be doing anything in relation to the bridge deck or river wall without full consultation with them. The EA are hoping to set up a meeting with Calderdale Council shortly since we will need their cooperation and assistance. Unfortunately, we are not in a position where we can just close up site and forget the project because the old bridge deck is in poor condition and cannot just be left as it is… "

I will of course post more information as it emerges. Regards

From Paul M

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Neighbours/friends, we had a meeting yesterday with two gentlemen from the Environment Agency (EA).

The meeting was over an hour and a half. This is my best from my notes, and in brief.

They maintained their stance that their (EA) decision to withdraw their objection on basis of the revised plans, was correct, "based on the information available to them at the time", ie past data, current up to 2010 using the "100 year model".

In the light of subsequent events, ie the 2012 figures, and of course now, Boxing day 2015 data, the model and date are no longer appropriate. New models will have to be drawn up.

They are in absolute sympathy with us (Hebden residents) that even the revised plans are unsuitable, and must be revisited and alternatives examined. They have secured agreement with the developer, Mr. Bradby, to hold all work on the bridge/ platform for the time being.

They have repeatedly tried to arrange a meeting with our council, but up until yesterday had had little willing response. Somebody, somewhere, has exercised their authority, and a meeting has now been arranged for the 9th February 2015 between the EA and Richard Seaman and Tom Sheils (council planning officers). I tried to have myself invited, but it was not thought appropriate(!) However, I guess if I were to send in a Freedom of Information Request they would be obliged to let me have any record of what was said and "any other relevant documents". So I shall!

The chaps also pointed out some facts. One is, they (the EA) have no formal authority to order or demand anything. It's just that they are a "significant voice" and if they make a recommendation or advise, it is an unwary developer (or council) who disregards their words.

Also, they can make no comment on the building per se, only the flood wall/bridge etc. (which they absolutely agree would be unwise to remove a section). As they have no authority to interfere with planning, they just don't.

They also explained that they do not consider that the wall is an EA asset. As far as they are concerned, it is the property and responsibility of the residents! For the moment then, the developer, Mr. Bradby, is continuing with the work on the building, but is holding any further activity on the bridge/ platform for the moment, whilst alternatives are examined.

I can only ask dear neighbours, that you join me in writing to the councillors to urge them to seriously reconsider the planning decision in the light of recent events, as they have the authority to do under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning act.

From Chris B

Monday, 25 January 2016

Paul's very informative post says that the Environment Agency based their flood risk assessment on 2010 data, and it would appear that Calderdale planners were happy to accept that.

Surely to approve a development in 2015, based on 2010 data and seemingly ignoring what happened in 2012 is at best foolish, at worst negligent.

We may have no control over how the Environment Agency run their business, but we do have a say in how Calderdale run theirs, and I will be asking our councillors to formally request a response from Richard Seaman.

From David Thompson

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Chris B says, quite rightly,

"Surely to approve a development in 2015, based on 2010 data and seemingly ignoring what happened in 2012 is at best foolish, at worst negligent...We may have no control over how the Environment Agency run their business, but we do have a say in how Calderdale run theirs, and I will be asking our councillors to formally request a response from Richard Seaman."

I hope that he will have more success than I have had. I have been pursuing a complaint with Calderdale MBC over a serious planning issue since 2010. Despite having clear evidence, my complaint has met with no success. My refusal to accept nonsense instead of a proper reasoned response eventually led to my being named as a "vexatious complainant", which means that they now have given themselves the right to refuse to deal with me any longer. I am not sure whether to take this as a compliment on my good citizenship, or as an insult.

My experience with councillors has also been disappointing. One did meet with me, but had nothing to offer. Most seem to be timid, in awe of the council officers, and easily hoodwinked. It is in the interests of lazy and incompetent planning officers to carry on the pretence that planning is an arcane and esoteric art which cannot possibly be understood by the layman.

In discussing the subject of my complaint with one of the Calderdale planning officers, I commented that it was quite obviously "sensitive". His reply was, "ah, yes, but sensitive has a different meaning in planning."!
David Thompson

From Chris B

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

I think David should consider the title "vexatious complainant" as a badge of honour, to be worn proudly.

I'm probably heading the same way if I carry on like this, but I think we are all getting fed up of being taken for fools by Calderdale planners and (some, not all) councillors.

From Tim B

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

You may have already considered this, but there is always the Local Government Ombudsman if you don't think you/your complaints have been dealt with fairly.

From Paul M

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Neighbours / friends latest, I have just had it confirmed that a prohibition order has been placed on the site adjacent to the Little Park. The order has been issued by the HSE over concerns about Health & Safety. All work must stop for the moment until certain conditions have been met.

The developer has requested permission from the residents of Waterside Fold to erect fencing actually in Waterside Fold. The residents are unanimous in declining this request.

We have also been contacted by The Department for Communities and Local Government. Our case passed to them by the Secretary of State for the Environment (Rt. Hon Elizabeth Truss).

The officer there has given us 14 days to write outlining the "exceptional circumstances" in which we think it appropriate for the minister to intervene and revoke planning permission, the Minister has the power to do this under sec 1000 of the 1990 Act If the council refuse to act. I'll get busy then!

From Cllr Janet Battye

Friday, 29 January 2016

I have always thought that this area was not capable of being built on. I looked at it again yesterday and the state of the bridge since the flooding just makes that so obvious. I am frustrated that Calderdale Council seem to be acting as though they can't do anything about it. We must keep up the pressure on both the Council and the Environment Agency.

From Chris B

Sunday, 31 January 2016

I'm a little puzzled by Cllr Battye's comments. She and other local councillors have on the whole worked hard to represent the people of Hebden Bridge, but she seems to be referring to Calderdale Council as if it is some distant entity over which elected members have no control.

It is a real possibility that Calderdale will be forced into revoking this planning permission under Section 97 of the TCPA 1990, or having it forced upon them by the Secretary of State under Section 100.

Either option will expose to close scrutiny the way that officers and some councillors have handled this, and other, planning applications. Both options will also inevitably lead to a compensation claim from the developer.

Calderdale Council, like any other Local Authority, is ultimately controlled by its elected members. Like it or not, they are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

From Bob Deacon

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I think it is imperative that the ward councillors attend the meeting with Richard Seaman and the Environment Agency arranged for 9th Feb (see earlier post) and press home the case that the planning application has to be reversed on, hopefully the new advice of EV in these new mega-flood circumstances. As Chair of the Hebden Bridge Partnership I am watching this development carefully.

From Martin C

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

While I sympathise with Chris B's comments, I also have some understanding of Janet's position.

As I understand it, it is the responsibility of the Planning Committee to "consider new and changes to existing development control policies, objectives and standards for recommendation to the Cabinet".

So to get anything done about the Planning Department, local councillors have to lobby the Planning Committee, who in turn have to lobby the Cabinet.

Since few of the Planning Committee seem to represent areas of Calderdale that were flooded, perhaps it would be appropriate for arguments to be addressed directly to say the chair of the Planning Committee. They could at least provide some direction to the Planning Department that the 2010 flood levels are out of date.

From Chris B

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Bob Deacon is right: it is essential that local councillors (and perhaps other elected members) attend the meeting on 9th Feb. It's their right to do so, and it's also their duty to ensure that the whole process of deciding the future of this development is open and transparent.

A while ago I mentioned another aspect of this development that concerned me, but no one seemed to take much notice. So I'll say it again…

Apart from the numerous windows on upper floors which overlook the playground, there are five windows at ground floor level on the rear and side elevations (3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 living room). As far as I can tell from the not very detailed drawings, these windows will be right on the playground boundary, and at playground level. Does anyone else find this odd, for all sorts of reasons?

A block of flats next to a school playground in Skipton (Christ Church primary) was given planning permission on the basis that windows overlooking the playground were small and had obscure glazing. The developer recently applied to change the windows to large ones, with an external walkway. Craven Council refused permission, the developer appealed. The appeal was dismissed.

The flooding issue is obviously the most important reason for trying to get this approval revoked, but to my mind the issue of child safety is yet another reason for arguing that this wretched development should never have been given planning permission.

From Michael Murray Elder

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Child safety & the riverside development. Please don't over interpret this but living in France as I do where there is equal concern over child safety I don't observe the almost obsessive behaviour re adults being close to & able to look at children. Am I missing something here ?

From Ian M

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Oh come on Chris, are you being serious? So a window overlooking a playground is suspicious! Expanding that thinking then every house window that overlooks a neighbour's garden should immediately be bricked up because it clearly represents a danger to child safety. All the businesses that back onto Central Street School should be closed because who knows what their occupants may be thinking!

Contrary to what some national papers think, there really isn't one hiding behind every tree!

From Pedro de Wit

Thursday, 4 February 2016

I think Chris has a valid point. Yes, there are older houses that overlook school playgrounds but there are not many houses built these days that overlook playgrounds. The world has changed and child safety is something that we need to take seriously.

You can also turn this the other way and ask yourself if you would like to have a window directly overlooking a playground where children play football and other ball games.

In my opinion having windows directly facing a playground can only lead to problems in the future.

From Tim M

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Or you could say that the park being overlooked was a good thing - increased surveillance, reduced vandalism, people nearby if someone falls off a swing?

From Chris B

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Well at least I got a response this time...

Of course I'm not suggesting that we brick up any windows that overlook playgrounds, and I'm not particularly bothered about the upper floor windows in this block that overlook the playground. I still think that ground floor windows, virtually on the boundary, are really not a good idea.

Apart from any real or imagined child safety issues (and maybe the parents of kids who use this playground should be the ones to comment on that), it isn't going to be much fun for the residents.

It seems to me yet another example of the witless design of this development and the planners' unquestioning acceptance of any old tosh that comes their way.

From Paul M

Friday, 5 February 2016

Neighbours, friends, just an update. Full case plea despatched to the office of the Secretary of State for the Environment, fingers crossed, sent by recorded delivery and e-mail.

You will be aware through this column that senior planning officer for Calderdale, Richard Seaman, is meeting on Tuesday next 9th, with the developer, Mr Bradby, and two officers from the Environment Agency.

I had asked for our ward councillors (D. Young / J. Battye / A.Miles ) to attend, on our behalf. I have today learned that they are not to be permitted to attend on our behalf!

An open letter to Mr. Seaman to ask why this should be so....

"Dear Mr Seaman, re: the development on land adjacent to playground Victoria Road Hebden Bridge.

Regarding your forthcoming meeting with the developer Mr Bradby and two officers from the Environment Agency, Mr Merriman and Mr. Swales on 9th February 2015, next Tuesday.

Mr Seaman I'm given to understand by councillors Dave Young and Janet Battye that they are not to be permitted to attend the meeting on behalf of the residents.

Sir, I must ask you why they, (or any of the residents come to that) should be excluded from a meeting that directly concerns members
of the public whose homes are at risk. Should not an informed decision regarding the development, be made through full and open discussion?

I might, just, grasp that it falls outside normal protocol to allow members of the public in, but to prevent our elected representatives and your fellow council colleagues to attend on our behalf, on a matter of such public significance as the potential flooding of our homes is,
frankly, little short of suspicious to say the least.

Please explain to us, the reasoning behind your decision to hold this meeting in camera. In accordance with all normal council practice,
you will be keeping minutes of what is said at this meeting. These minutes will become subject to a Freedom Of Information Request, so what is
to be gained by excluding legitimate attendees?....."



From Chris B

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The news that an officer of Calderdale Council (albeit quite a senior one) has apparently told elected members that they cannot attend this meeting, and that they seem to have accepted this decision, frankly beggars belief.

This meeting is potentially as important as the Planning Committee meeting where this development was approved, and that was open to not only elected members but members of the public.

There are quite a few people in Hebden Bridge who have little faith in Calderdale Council as a democratic body, particularly when it comes to planning decisions. There are some who even question the probity of some officers and elected members.

The decision to hold a meeting such as this in private, and not even minuted, is surely going to reinforce these views, and probably attract more people to the opinion that Calderdale is rotten to the core. For the record, I don't subscribe to this view myself: incompetent and spineless perhaps, but not rotten. My views may change.

Whatever the outcome of this meeting, it won't be pretty: I can't see a happy ending to this sorry mess. Unless something changes, next Tuesday will be a sad day for democracy in Calderdale.

From Paul M

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Neighbours / Friends, an update, the meeting between Calderdale Officer Richard Seaman and the EA officers and developer Phil Bradby, went ahead, and Councillor Dave Young has just reported back with the information below:

".......Richard Seaman came to Hebden Bridge directly after his Meeting with the Environment Agency & Phil Bradby this afternoon.

The Environment Agency are doing some new modelling post flooding and have concerns over the development but have not suggested (unfortunately in our opinion) that Calderdale Council revoke the Planning application.

The Environment Agency have by-laws and the new bridge needs their approval before it can be put in.

We asked Richard can Calderdale Council revoke the Planning Application – He said we could do but without the Environment Agency approval it would be very difficult and expensive.

We asked if the Developer could be asked to raise the whole wall on the Waterside Fold side say 2 foot. He will ask the Developer this.

Richard was aware that you had applied to the Secretary of State to revoke the Planning Application and we asked would this temporary stop the Development – He said they do take a long time to investigate this but this process will not pause the development.

I am sorry we did not get the answers you or us all wanted..........."

No great surprise here, and I'm still outraged that the meeting was held in secret, and further annoyed that head of Environment & Economy for Calderdale Mark Thompson, (Richard Seamans' boss) hasn't even had the curtesy to reply to my mail urging him to intervene.

For the moment, I've sent the EA further photographic evidence of river level, to add to their "modelling"!

Watch this space.

From Chris B

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

As Paul says, no great surprises in the outcome of the secret meeting.

We need to ensure that the modelling exercise is (for a change) open and transparent. We also need to make sure that people who understand these things (Anthony Rae?) get a chance to examine all the technical stuff and that their views are taken into account.

I don't know who will make the final decision on whether the development can go ahead (should it go back to Planning Committee?), but Calderdale, if they want to salvage any credibility from this mess, must ensure that there can be no suspicion of secret deals or other funny business.

From Bob Deacon

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

This report of the refusal of the EA to change there mind on this planning application is another example of the extraordinary "behind closed doors" behaviour of that agency in this post flood situation.

The deferring to new modelling (which of course is needed) instead of taking the simple evidence of local people as to how and where and why the Hebden Water broke its banks is really disturbing.

If I understand the story correctly it is a simple one that the removal of a part of the existing wall to enable access across the bridge to the new flats will inevitably worsen the chances of flooding not only in that immediate location but all the way down Valley Road etc. Unbelievable.

See also

HebWeb News: Little Park to be fenced off for 10 months