Road can't cope with extra traffic

20 November 2009

Telegraph & Argus

Campaigners against housing estate plans survey vehicles using bridge next to site
 
Campaigners fighting proposals for a huge housing development predicted it would cause “horrendous” traffic problems after a vehicle survey yesterday. Developers Bellway and Redrow are looking to build hundreds of homes on green fields in Greenhill and Sty Lane, near the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Micklethwaite. The Greenhill Action Group (GAG), which is strongly opposing building on the land, says there is already congestion in the area and problems with access over the canal swing bridge. They claim it will only worsen if the development gets the green light.
 
GAG chairman Terry Brown said in one ten-minute period during rush hour, 102 vehicles crossed the single-track bridge – an average of one every six seconds. He said: “There are only 200 houses up in Micklethwaite and the developers are talking about building nearly 600 houses. It is horrendous just thinking about it.”
 
A planning application has been submitted by Bellway and Redrow but a spokesman for Bradford Council said it was “invalid” and needed to include more information before it would be considered.
 
Developers are understood to be preparing another, more detailed, application. In the meantime, GAG is set to start a leafleting campaign in the area to raise money for a “fighting fund”.
 
The Greenhill site was reprieved from development five years ago when a Government inspector ruled there should be a moratorium on house building. That expired this year. Bradford Council’s major development manager, John Eyles, said: “An outline planning application for the Sty Lane site in Micklethwaite has been submitted to Bradford Council.
 
“The application is currently invalid and needs further information to be submitted to the Council.
“Once the information is submitted the Council will carry out a full consultation with the public before the application is formally considered.”

Green Lung - under threat of development again

19 November 2009

Prosider

At a recent public exhibition held at St Aiden's Church in Crossflatts, local residents were presented with proposed plans for a major residential development on the 40-acre Greenhill site, which is bordered by the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Micklethwaite Lane, Sty Lane, and the Oakwood Drive, Fairfax Road and Falcon Road residential areas. Developers Bellway Homes and Redrow Homes are soon to submit a planning application to build up to 450 dwellings on the greenfield site, close to the edge of the conservation village of Micklethwaite. At a subsequent public meeting, held at the same venue on October 9th, in excess of 200 people gathered to hear speakers including Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, Councillor David Heseltine and representatives from Bradford Planning Department and the Developers, explain the proposals and answer questions from the audience.
 
As a direct response to these proposals, the Greenhill Action Group (GAG), originally formed in 1992 by local residents opposed to the first plans to build a 'Dales Village' on the site, has been reformed to act on behalf of all interested parties who are against the advancement of the latest proposal.
 
Objections to the development cover many aspects; the increase in traffic that such a large development would inevitably impose upon the immediate road network; the building of a permanent two-way traffic swing bridge over the canal at Micklethwaite Lane; concerns regarding increased pressure on already stretched, local health, education, welfare, policing and rail transport resources; the loss of a particularly beautiful stretch of countryside which has been described as a much needed 'green lung' for the Bingley and Crossflatts area; and the damage caused to natural habitat used by wildlife and waterfowl.
 
Chair of GAG, Terry Brown said, "Greenhill Action Group is non-political and is solely opposed to development on a green field site where other brownfield sites exist, and when many recently-built dwellings in the area still remain empty. The group is also keen to make contact with persons who could offer expertise in the areas of Planning Legislation, Highways and Conservation."
 
Anyone seeking further information on the current status of the planning application, or wishing to lodge objections or offer support, can visit the GAG website - www.greenhill-action-group.co.uk

Fighting the development

14 November 2009

Narrowboat World

I was interested by your article today in narrowboatworld for two reasons, one. I am a member of the Greenhill Action Group, and two. I am a local resident (I live in the cottage by the bridge), and narrowboat owner.
 
We are aware that the developers have persuaded BW to accept a slightly wider and slightly re-positioned swing bridge. We await their plans to learn more. I am keen to know how this information differs from the information we have from Bellway and Redrow.
The Greenhill Action Group (GAG) was formed many years ago in the early nineties, it's purpose is to protect the open green hills and fields bounded by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Sty Lane and Micklethwaite Lane from residential development. The land is part of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Conservation area and is also home to local well populated and varied wildlife and farm animals. An area of outstanding natural beauty and a natural break in between an overdeveloped area of the Airedale valley.
 
Successfully defeated twice
 
As part of Bradford's UDP plans this 40 acre site has been successfully defeated twice by the GAG. More recently in 2003 Bradford reviewed their UDP and appointed a Planning Inspector who declared: 'The site is 'fit' for development when the Bingley relief road is complete and development could start as early as 2009'.
 
The Bingley relief road was completed in 2004 and now 2009 is here Bellway and Redrow homes are planning to develop the site. They held a public exhibition attended by many local residents (believed to be over 200). In response local residents from Crossflatts, Micklethwaite and nearby suburban areas of Bingley attended a public meeting.
 
All against the development
 
In attendance were over 120 locals including two representatives from Bellway and Redrow, local MP Philip Davies, and local councillor David Heseltine. The meeting was organised by the Crossflatts Village Society and chaired by local resident Quentin Deakin. A vote was taken to gauge public opinion and 120 of the attendees were against the development and those for the development totalled two, from Bellway and Redrow.
 
Bellway and Redrow have indicated their intention to submit a planning application this autumn to the Bradford MDC Planning Authority for 450 new homes. Their intention is to obliterate this natural environment and to provide one main road into and out of the new housing estate via Micklethwaite Swing Bridge. This is a very narrow lane and struggles to support current traffic. It also a local 'rat-run' especially at peak times.
 
GAG would like to raise support against this development. We have set up a web site and this can be found at http://www.greenhill-action-group.co.uk/
 
Richard Pinchbeck
Greenhill Action Group, Micklethwaite

Developers want bigger bridge

09 November 2009

Narrowboat World

DEVELOPERS on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal want a swing bridge scrapping and the waterway diverted so a fixed bridge can be installed.
 
It was five years ago that narrowboatworld reported that a plan to build houses on a green field site by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at Micklethwaite was thrown out owing to overwhelming opposition. But after a five years moratorium on building on the site, Bellway and Redrow are seeking outline planning permission from Bradford Council to build 400 houses, and there is a call for the swing bridge to be scrapped and a 'short diversion' of the waterway, Alan Tilbury reports.
 
The companies held a public consultation with residents last month which sparked widespread opposition. But they state that they will be lodging an outline planning application with Bradford Council this week.
 
But joining the opposition to the plan is constituency MP Philip Davies , who last week in Parliament voiced his opposition to development of open land, citing Micklethwaite as an example where the Government was allowing the countryside to be concreted over. He has called on people to register their opposition so the Council is aware of the strength of opposition, and exclaimed:
 
"Scrapping the regional house building targets imposed by the Government on local authorities would be an extremely helpful start. We have housing targets imposed on councils, in Bradford they have to build 50,000 houses by 2020.
 
"What is even more galling is that by the Government's own admission one third of housing will be needed for future immigration. If Government got a grip of immigration this would not be needed."
 
This however will have a great effect on the waterway, for the inspector in his 2003 decision pointed out that the single lane swing bridge across the canal in Micklethwaite Lane was not adequate to take the extra traffic, and a fixed bridge would be better, but would need a short canal diversion.
 
British Waterways was against building a two lane swing bridge because of the cost and longer time to operate, and should planning permission be granted a fixed bridge would be erected, which however would need much more than a 'short canal diversion' in view of the contour of the land.

Plans to be lodged for Micklethwaite site

05 November 2009

Telegraph & Argus

Developers have revealed they are to submit a controversial plan to build hundreds of homes on a green field site which won a reprieve from development five years ago
 
Bellway and Redrow will seek outline planning permission from Bradford Council to build on the land in Greenhill and Sty Lane, Micklethwaite. The company held a public consultation with residents last month which sparked widespread opposition. The building companies are acting upon the decision of an Inspector overseeing Bradford Council’s unitary development plan in 2003. He ruled that there should be a five-year moratorium on building on the site. That period is now over.
 
A spokesman for Bellway and Redrow said: “Following a public consultation exercise and a number of meetings with the planning and highways departments in the Council, the developers Bellway and Redrow will be lodging an outline planning application with Bradford Council next week.
 
“The application for the land at Micklethwaite reflects the site’s allocation in Bradford’s Development Plan and proposes circa 400 homes.
 
“The site will provide a comprehensive range of house types to meet demand from all quarters of the market including affordable homes.”
 
Joining the ranks of opponents is constituency MP Philip Davies (Con, Shipley), who last week in Parliament voiced his opposition to development of open land, citing Micklethwaite as an example where the Government was allowing the countryside to be concreted over. He has called on people to register their opposition so the Council is aware of the strength of opposition. He said: “I will do all I can to support local residents wishing to prevent a development from taking place here, although we start from a difficult position due to an appalling decision back in the 1990s to include this land in the UDP.
 
“Scrapping the regional house building targets imposed by the Government on local authorities would be an extremely helpful start.
 
“We have housing targets imposed on councils, in Bradford they have to build 50,000 houses by 2020.
 
“What is even more galling is that by the Government’s own admission one third of housing will be needed for future immigration. If Government got a grip of immigration this would not be needed.”
 
The Inspector in his 2003 decision said the single-lane swing bridge across the canal in Micklethwaite Lane was not adequate to take the extra traffic and said a fixed bridge would be better but it would need a short canal diversion British Waterways was against building a two-lane swing bridge because of the cost and longer time to operate.
 
Julie Pinchbeck, of Bridge Cottage, Micklethwaite Lane, said “We must preserve our green space.
 
“Should planning permission be granted, we will be pushing for a fixed bridge with supporting transport links to the development site.”
 
Pauline Wood, of Micklethwaite, a member of Greenhill Action Group, said she was not in a position to comment on the new plans until she had seen them.
 
John Eyles, the Council’s major development manager, said: “There have been ongoing negotiations between planning officers and developers for some time over the Greenhill, Sty Lane site, with a view to an outline planning application being submitted.”

Red Alert on Bellway Earnings

13 October 2009

The Guardian

A collapse in land values plunged Bellway into the red for the first time today,in spite of efforts by the housebuilder to slash jobs and debt. Bellway cut its land values by £66m in its annual results, which turned a £20m profit into a £47m loss. Revenue fell 40% to £683m while the average selling price of its homes slid by £15,000 to £154,000.
 
The company maintained its dividend and said reservations since August were 58% ahead compared with last year. It has committed £120m to a land-buying spree to position itself for an upturn. Of eight sites bought in the UK, seven are in the south of England where the company believes recovery prospects are best.
 
"In the south, people's confidence levels have risen," said Bellway finance director Alistair Leitch. "It's maybe slower in the north."
 
Leitch outlined his concern over Conservative plans to rip up regional housing targets and incentivise local authorities to build new homes. There is concern this would result in fewer new homes because local councils will be under pressure from their electorate to ban development.
 
"If people adopt nimbyism and homes are not built, the supply/demand equation will lead to house price inflation and I'm sure that's the last thing the Tories want," he said. Bellway, regarded as among the best-managed quoted housebuilders, was at the centre of a pay row this year when shareholders voted against agreeing salary levels for top executives. The company has taken steps to ensure its remuneration committee communicates regularly with shareholders, and is confident the spat will not be repeated.
 
Bellway has cut debt by £180m to £37m in the past 12 months. Its debt facilities, agreed six months before the financial crisis, "are keenly priced". It has net cash of £30m, with bank facilities of £370m.

Call for action to stop road being used as a rat-run

14 December 2006

Telegraph & Argus

Residents are calling for traffic-calming measures on a stretch of road above Crossflatts where they say "an accident is waiting to happen". Greenhill Lane and Sty Lane, Micklethwaite, have been closed from Micklethwaite Lane and the end of Lady Lane since a retaining wall collapsed, spilling tonnes of stone and earth next to a house in Greenhill Lane in September. But residents say the closure has given respite from heavy lorries and speeding cars. Every resident in Greenhill Lane has now signed a petition to Bradford Council calling for the road to be restricted to access for residents only when it does re-open.
 
Leonard Thring, whose garden was affected by the wall collapse, said: "We are relieved the road is closed because of heavy lorries which go down a very narrow and dangerous bend. The road was never designed for lorries carrying such heavy loads." The 75-year old retired Royal Navy warrant officer added: "I asked the highways department about two years ago for speed and weight restrictions and I was told that it was not viable."
 
Residents fear the wall collapsed because of the pressure on the road from heavy goods vehicles.
 
Richard Kunz, 37, who organised the petition, said: "It is a very steep, narrow, blind-cornered road. There have been accidents on that corner and cars cannot pass at that point. "There have been some complaints about it being closed but these have been from people who use it as a thoroughfare. The road used to be access-only for residents and we would like to see this again. The road itself is just not suitable for through traffic."
 
Another neighbour, Victoria Dowd, said: "This road is a nightmare because it's used as a rat-run. We were delighted when it was closed." The 38-year-old mother of two added: "I walk my children, aged four and seven, to school. The footpath is pretty narrow and we have to go single-file and cars go flying past. Even though the Bingley bypass has opened we still have a rush-hour here during the morning and evening. We think nothing will get done unless there's an accident."
 
Drivers are being diverted via Bingley and East Morton from Micklethwaite Lane until repairs to the wall are completed, which is expected to be in February. Andrew Parkin, the council's principal engineer for highway structures, apologised for any inconvenience. He said: "Unfortunately, this is emergency work which is proving to be a very complex engineering problem to solve. The area where the wall collapsed is on a very steep incline and on the approach to a very tight, narrow bend. This, coupled with the poor ground conditions and the closeness of utility mains, means it is a very delicate operation and safety is of the upmost importance. We believe the cause of the collapse is a combination of the underlying ground conditions, the age of the wall and groundwater. Heavy goods vehicles might also have contributed."
 
Engineers are looking to use a technique called "soil nailing", where steel anchors up to ten metres long are driven into the ground and fixed with concrete. These will be used to anchor a new retaining wall which will support Greenhill Lane. Mr Parkin said: "Construction is expected to start in the New Year and we hope to be able to re-open the road by the end of February. We are now investigating traffic-calming for the road and will inform residents of our findings in due course."