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26th November 2012

Outcome

 

 

Stopping up not to be authorised until new path has been completed and inspected to the satisfaction of 2 magistrates acting in the same local justice area as the court by which the order was made and a certificate to that effect signed by them has been transmitted to the clerk of the local authority.

26th November 2012

Your Worships.
1. I am here today as a Counsellor representing the constituents of Marton West Ward, who will be disadvantaged if these proposed footpath stoppages go ahead.   In no way is this objection intended to be frivolous or vexatious, but it is designed to protect the safety of the Primary School children who habitually use this route to walk to school.
2. We were notified by letter, dated the 11th of October, that Middlesbrough Council is applying to ‘Stop up’ highways in the Marton West area and we were given an invitation to respond in writing to Stewart Williams or Sarah Mills. We did not do so because, quite frankly, we were confused by the information that we were given. It has taken us until now to understand the full importance of the proposals and the likely effect on the residents, especially the school children in the ward.
3. Our objection to the proposal, as it stands, is exclusively about the safety issue and I therefore wish to focus entirely on the footpath A to B to C from Turnberry Way, shown as a black line on the map provided.   It is the route currently used to connect Turnberry Way to Stainton Way and vice versa.
4. If this path is ‘stopped up’, then the alternative route is a much longer walk, continuing along Turnberry Way, and then down The Fairway, and back along Stainton Way to the Puffin crossing, which was only recently built at point C, for safe passage across Stainton Way. Show a laminated map of this section.  This route is on a footpath beside a busy road and will subject children to road dangers which they should not have to risk. Middlesbrough Council’s own website, under the heading - ‘Walking information -  What are Public Rights of Way?’ states .. They are becoming more important as increases in the volume and speed of traffic are turning many previously quiet roads, into unpleasant and sometimes dangerous places for walkers, cyclists and equestrians. Both ‘The Fairway’ and   ‘Stainton Way’ are heavily congested.  All children, including those who walk to Kings’ Academy, will be walking considerably further, and in the wrong direction at times, to get to school. In our opinion, Path A to B to C should not be closed.
5. Perhaps  Middlesbrough Council is suggesting that the existing Right of Way between Point D and Stainton Way can be used as an alternative? These photographs show that route as being totally unacceptable. The steps are steep as shown and not accessible for a child’s buggy, or those children who go to school on their bikes or scooters. This photo was taken before the last days of heavy rain, but the path has muddy puddles and is frequently boggy, shown by the rushes and reeds that grow there.
6. We need to have a protected and sensible alternative to what is currently in place, in order to provide a ‘Safe route to school’, – which is Middlesbrough Council’s own policy.  This is NOT an acceptable proposal. The alternative route is too far away and is not suitable.
7. A further factor is the length of time that this proposal will be in use. Presumably it will last until the housing estate is completed - which is likely to be at least 2-3 years and possibly more. Children need our protection and therefore need the same conditions for their school journey as they have now. The duration of that deprivation is not acceptable.
8. We accept that change is inevitable. We do not want to take up the Court’s time. However, we would ask that the Magistrates reject this application today and we suggest that Middlesbrough Council offer Marton West residents an alternative to what is being proposed.
 

20th July 2012

The committee voted 7 to 3.  All labour councillors voted for the application together with Councillor Peter Sanderson.  Those against the application were Councillor Peter Cox, Councillor Bill Hawthorne and Councillor John Hobson.  Two of the labour councillors were substitutes and had not been on the site visit so did not see this beautiful woodland that they were happy to destroy.

Planning meeting for Longridge Wood. I would like to go through the Officer Report because there are items which I feel are not correct.
Item 14:   Coulby Newham Master Plan 1991 - also included in this plan was a school, a public house, a parade of shops and a community centre proposed for a road not a quarter of a mile from site 44.  These were all deleted from the plan and extra housing was developed in this area.   If these things can be taken from the master plan, then so can site 44.   Things have changed in over 20 years.

Item 23:  Section 106 money.   The Officers’ Report states that in the event of approval, the developer would sign an agreement for items which add up to well over 1 million pounds.  This list should not be in this report. All it is doing is making members think .. “look at all these goodies that we will get if this application is approved”.   It is like bribery.  This has happened on a few applications lately - it is not a planning issue and should be eradicated. Who is going to turn down an application which offers one million, one hundred and seventy thousand pounds as spending money? And who will ensure that the money does go to those items?

Item 54:  The application mentions a foraging area for Badgers. There are also deer in this woodland.  What on earth are we doing by destroying an area that contains wild-life like this?  There are many people who have never seen a Badger in the wild and probably never will -  especially if we continue to destroy their habitats.  It also goes against all aspects of One Planet Living.   The wildlife corridor to the west is only being retained because the services, sewers etc. from the Eagle Park area, run under this part of the woodland.   It would never be possible to build on it. Also, how can the “impact on wildlife be minimal”? The loss of this woodland means the wildlife will disappear as the first tree is bulldozed.

Item 62:  Buses:  There are NOT two routes available. There are currently no buses, at all, on Dixon’s Bank. The route through Eagle Park, on the bus journey from Guisborough to the Parkway Centre, runs once every two hours, between 8am and 4pm, Mondays to Fridays only – so – no buses on Saturday, Sunday or an any public holiday. This is a very sparse bus service!

Item 66:  Traffic:  Surely someone is having a laugh?  I live at Marton and the traffic is horrendous now, without creating any more.  The report also assumes that the Highways Authority is going to approve traffic capacity from Grey Towers Farm. There is no mention of any traffic, which may want to enter or egress the site from the south, which would lead up Turnberry Way to Brass Castle Lane.   If Grey Towers Farm does go ahead the congestion at the end of Brass Castle Lane will be significant.
Item 74:  School: The head teacher and Lingfield School Council on behalf of all the children in the school, submitted an objection to this development.  
Item 75 states -  “The character of Longridge would, of course, significantly change..with …housing on a greenfield site”. But why build there? Why not use the brownfield sites first?
Item 78:  The report mentions that a tree planting scheme is proposed.  When half of the trees on site 44 were bulldozed a few years ago, replacement trees were planted at Coulby Newham. These were only 2 foot tall whips and many did not survive, because of lack of maintenance.  (the grass overtook them).  The trees on site 44 are coming up to 20 years old. You just cannot remove trees of this age – nothing will replace them – until 20 years hence.

Item 79 – 82: Hedgerow: Did you find the Development Brief to see if it mentions it being a protected hedge?

Conditions: 
Items 5, 6, and 7: also Highways (item 28) and Environment (item 35)  all relate to water drainage and flooding. Obviously there is some concern-  and rightly so.  In winter, and after heavy rain, the site is like a swamp and water overflows onto the footpath.  After the trees were bulldozed in December 2008, this picture shows how the water rose in Marton West Beck and the potential flooding hazard for the town is there for all to see.  Trees absorb water - and the removal of this amount of woodland could be disastrous.   There will also be increased problems once the roads and concrete based buildings replace the soil.

Finally - Middlesbrough Council’s Core Strategy, Policy CS4, outlines the Council’s aim to “make the most efficient use of land, with priority being given to development on previously developed land, in particular vacant and derelict sites and buildings, ensuring that there is a sufficient supply of land of a suitable quality in the right locations to meet the development needs of the people of Middlesbrough”.  The Longridge site has not previously been developed, nor is it vacant in the sense of being considered derelict.  Whilst it is accepted that there is a need and requirement to increase housing supply in Middlesbrough, to cater for a growing population in the years to come, it is questionable as to whether Longridge is an appropriate location for housing development, being neither derelict nor vacant, nor in fact brownfield land.  It is suggested that there are more suitable housing development sites identified within Middlesbrough Council’s SHLAA.  

John Hobson made the following objections

 

Chris Hobson gave objections as follows

 

Recently the council’s environment scrutiny panel looked at the topic of trees.  The panel picked up on the statement shown in the 2007 Middlesbrough Council publication “Green Spaces Public Places” stating that ‘Middlesbrough currently has approximately 1% covering of woodland and, as such, is ten times worse off than the national average.’  – so why demolish this woodland?

These are some of the statements from the final report of the scrutiny panel: 
· Trees offer many benefits.
· They enhance both the natural and built environments by providing shelter, shade and colour.
· They also provide extensive habitats for wildlife, filter pollutants from the air, absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.
While doing this study, the Scrutiny Panel widened its remit to include issues relating to the authority’s tree strategy, and it now includes the protection of trees.  How ironical is that?

The value of trees and woodlands is fast becoming more of an issue in the country as a whole. On July 4th 2012, the Independent Panel on Forestry published its Final Report, which states:
· “As a Panel we have a vision of a more wooded landscape and more woods closer to where people live”.
·  “Our forests and woods are nature’s playground for the adventurous, museum for the curious, hospital for the stressed, cathedral for the spiritual, and offer a livelihood for the entrepreneur”. In short, trees are for life”.

This Forestry Report also calls for England’s woods and forests to be re-valued for all the benefits they provide.  These include areas for recreation, clean air, clean water, and habitats for wildlife. Woodland can also lock up carbon, provide shade and help reduce flooding.  This Report calls for a revival of a woodland culture that appreciates how important trees are for people, for nature and for the economy.

· The much publicised “One Planet Living” Policy states that greater use should be made of green spaces.   Its vision for Middlesbrough is -  “protect, enhance and sustain a local natural environment that is rich in wildlife, with habitats and species that are local to the area and ensure that land is available for wildlife to move into, in order to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing climate”.   Longridge falls directly into this category with its Badgers, Bats, Deer, Flora and Fauna.
· Middlesbrough’s “Public Open Space Policy” states that:
“the value of an open space lies partially in the knowledge that it exists and is important by just being present as a resource to physically use”.  The Council therefore recognises the fact that the importance of open space lies in the fact that it is an informal asset -  the local community knows that it is there and that it can be used.  This space clearly has a huge value to the community. Residents’ comments to this development have emphasised  this same point.
The green space must appear attractive; be natural, but access routes and facilities must be well kept”.  Exactly what currently applies to Longridge.

As the Officers’ Report for Site 44 states, in point 3 on the first page, the National Planning Policy Framework was published in March this year and is now the basis for all planning legislation.
· It states that the planning system has a role in helping to create an environment where activities are made easier and public health can be improved
· that access to good quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities
The large range of natural wildlife present at Longridge, coupled with its close proximity to numerous housing estates and educational facilities, encourages a healthier way of life. 
· The NPPF also states that planning policies should “protect and enhance public rights of way and access”. The rights of way which lead through Longridge encourage families to explore the area. The paths serve as an access point into the Marton West Beck Trail. 
·
The NPPF also states that the purpose of planning is to help to achieve sustainable development.
· Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ‘ourselves’ doesn’t mean worse lives for future generations. This was the definition given by Greg Clarke, the Government Minister for Planning. By removing the current woodland this neither protects nor enhances the existing natural environment, nor improves biodiversity.  This development proposal will actually result in a net loss to the biodiversity of Marton West (hence Middlesbrough), and is to the detriment of the existing natural environment. 

The  ‘Green Spaces Public Places Document’,  states that … “Open Spaces and sports and recreational facilities that are of high quality or are of particular value to a local community,  should be recognised and given protection by local authorities through appropriate policies in plans”.  As long ago as 2006, Paul Rabbits (an officer with responsibility for the development of the document) walked this site with Ian Parker, and the Friends of Longridge Wood. He quite clearly stated (as you can see) that Longridge was both High Quality and Value to the Community. With six years more tree growth, this is even more applicable.
Is it too much to ask that we keep this woodland for the children who play there and for the wildlife that live and forage there?  Also for the school, that use it as an outdoor classroom and would like to put in cameras, connected to the school computers in order to watch the wildlife.  
· Do we really want to destroy all of this for just 79 houses, which Middlesbrough currently does not need?  Population figures from the 2011 census for Teesside released 2 days ago, show that Middlesbrough’s population has decreased by 2% in the past 10 years.

 High Quality and Value to the Community means that this site should not be built on.  I also have with me a petition of 1575 names.

 

 

 

5th April 2012

 

We have today been notified that the developer has submitted plans to Middlesbrough Council.  We are still claiming the two dedicated rights of way across the land so all is not lost.

 

4th April 2012

We had a eggciting time on Longridge today.  We held an Easter Egg Hunt with games including egg and spoon race and an egg painting competition.  The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves despite the cold weather.

 

 29th February 2012

Thank you to all the people who attended the consultation.  We do know that a lot of people did attend and we have heard a lot of comments.  None that were good.  The footpath is now being considered which may take some time.  Copy of a letter sent after the consultation:


Ms. Jane Wallis
Gentoo Homes
Aketer House
1 Emperor Way
Doxford International Business Park
Sunderland
SR3 3XR

 

Dear Madam

Longridge Wood (Site 44) Marton

With reference to your consultation meeting regarding the above on 26th January my comments follow.

I am a member of Friends of Longridge Wood, who have fought to keep this woodland for 7 years. 

The Friends of Longridge Wood are a constituted group who will keep fighting for this woodland, whether it is with the council or with yourselves if you actually buy this woodland.

As a company who build ‘eco friendly’ houses it amazes me that you would bulldoze woodland to build 79 houses. 

As you will know plans have recently been passed to build 295 houses at Grey Towers and also there are further plans to build 1000 houses at Hemlington Grange approximately a mile down the road to this site, which will be in direct competition with you. The road noise is bad on both sides of this site it would probably deter people from buying the houses.  The noise got a lot worse after Middlesbrough Council bulldozed some of this woodland in 2008 as trees do buffer the noise.

Taking out the trees will obviously cause further flooding in the surrounding houses which already have problems with back gardens under water.

You can see by the number of paths through this woodland that it is well used by walkers and residents. 

Friends of Longridge Wood have applied to claim a ‘Right of Way’ through the middle of the woodland and will apply for further paths in due course.

I believe that the majority of residents who came to the consultation were certainly not in favour of the proposals of your development.

A number of films have been made and we will continue letting the world know what is happening to our woodland.

Lastly your two representatives who were at the consultation seemed to think everything was a joke not a very professional way to conduct a public exercise.

 

 

26 January 2012
A developer has been found for our beautiful woodland.  Middlesbrough Council are selling this woodland at a very cheap price.  The developer Gentoo are having a consultation meeting on 26th January between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.  This is a drop in session so please attend.

We are still trying to save this woodland, we have put in forms for a public footpath across the middle of the site and will put in further forms for a footpath along the middle of the site running in the other direction as soon as we can.

They have not got planning permission yet and we will fight them on the felling lisence.

Gentoo were the social housing developers for Sunderland and have just completed a development at South Bank where the houses are being sold for £27,500.

 

Great News

The Mayor has agreed that he will not bulldoze the trees until a developer is in place and ready to build.  There is definitely no developer at the present time.  Looks like we have saved the woodland for another year.  They cannot bulldoze after February until the bird nesting season is over.

 

We now know that the developer has pulled out, but that the council still intend to bulldoze the trees in Februry 2011.  We need your help to stop this. 

Maintaining An Adequate Supply Of Open Space And Sports And Recreational Facilities

 

10. Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land should not be built on unless an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space or the buildings and land to be surplus to requirements. For open space, 'surplus to requirements' should include consideration of all the functions that open space can perform. Not all open space, sport and recreational land and buildings are of equal merit and some may be available for alternative uses. In the absence of a robust and up-to-date assessment by a local authority, an applicant for planning permission may seek to demonstrate through an independent assessment that the land or buildings are surplus to requirements. Developers will need to consult the local community and demonstrate that their proposals are widely supported by them.
 We now have nearly 2000 signatures of people who do not want this development.
 
Site is now up for sale.  We will not give up the fight.  We have information to save this site at planning. 
 
11th August 09 Badgers have been sited at Longridge Wood.
Marsh Orchids are growing in abundance
 
 
Felling licence application 022/89/08-09 Site 44, Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough
 
On 17th June 2009, the North East England Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) considered the above felling licence application with a view to advising the Forestry Commission whether a felling licence should be granted for felling of 1.2ha of woodland on site 44 with replanting on an alternative site at Newham Grange Leisure Farm.
 
The RAC considered a background paper and recommendation from the Forestry Commission and received presentations from teams representing the applicant, Middlesbrough Borough Council (the Council), represented by Mr Kevin Parkes, Acting Director of Regeneration, and from the objectors, led by Councillor Chris Hobson. The RAC also carried out site visits of both the application site and the proposed replanting site.
 
In considering the application, the RAC was bound by the Forestry Act 1967, which provides that a felling licence may only be refused where granting the licence would not be:
 
·         in the interests of good forestry or agriculture; or
·         in the interests of the amenities of the district; or
·         in the interests of maintaining an adequate reserve of growing trees.
 
In discussion of the application, the RAC considered the following issues:
 
·         the development position of the site
·         the loss of amenity for residents
·         the proposed alternative provision
·         local mitigation measures
·         the timing of site clearance
·         the handling of the application
 
The RAC accepted that the site, on which farming had ceased in 1995, had been allocated for housing in the Coulby Newham masterplan of 1976 and in local planning designations thereafter. Its development had been hindered by electricity pylons, which were eventually removed in 2005; meanwhile, some tree planting was carried out and the Committee saw naturally regenerating trees, shrub and scrub within the plantations and in the recently cleared areas. The site has been used as open space by local residents since farming ceased. The local community attempted in 2007 to have the site designated as a village green, but their application was rejected, after appeal, in 2008.
 
From the site visit it appeared to the Committee that a substantial proportion of the trees on site 44 had probably originally been planted and also fenced for protection – possibly with a view to establishing woodland in the medium term until the site could be prepared for development. The Council’s representatives were not able to confirm when the trees were planted or how the original planting was funded. There was no formal maintenance regime for the site, although it was evident that the grass paths were cut.
 
The RAC noted the conclusion of the Inspector’s report on the examination into the Middlesbrough Local Development Framework Regeneration Development Plan Document, dated 10th February 2009, in which the Inspector concluded (para. 4.15) “the landscape and ecological merits of this site are of insufficient quality to override the need for a high quality site such as this”. 
 
The RAC accepted that clearance of the site would undoubtedly result in loss of an amenity which is valued by local residents. While the replacement planting would satisfy statutory requirements, its location and distance from site 44 suggests that it would not provide the same ease of access to open space currently enjoyed by local residents. It would not, in the view of the RAC, compensate local residents for the loss of amenity in relation to site 44.
 
The RAC understands that the development brief for the site was prepared some time ago and would need to be recast. The Committee believes that, in the event that a felling licence is granted, this would provide an opportunity to consider the potential for mitigating the loss of local amenity at site 44, possibly by keeping the mown paths and hedgerow and providing adequate and safe links to other amenity areas close by. The RAC hopes that, when the development brief is prepared, local residents will be given an opportunity to explore with the Council whether some elements of the open space that they value could be retained.
 
The RAC accepts that proposals such as this are likely to be unwelcome to local residents but that the Council has a duty to weigh this against its other policy priorities. Nevertheless, the RAC feels bound to observe that the Council’s approach to this application process – and in particular its approach to the partial clearance carried out in December 2008 falls some way short of good community consultation. The RAC was pleased to note that the Council’s representatives acknowledged this during the presentations. Engaging the community in the preparation of the development brief might go some way to repairing some of the damage that appears to have been done to community relations over this application. 
 
The RAC recognizes the importance that the Council attaches to being able to offer a cleared site to developers but hopes that, in the event that a felling licence is granted, the Council will not feel the need for further clearance to be carried out until a revised development brief has been prepared and development is becoming a realistic option.
 
Recommendation
The Regional Advisory Committee concludes that, while the felling which is the subject of this application would lead to a loss of amenity for local residents, this is not sufficient to justify refusal of the felling licence. In reaching this conclusion, the Committee is mindful of the long-standing designation of this site for housing and the conclusions of the Inspector’s report on the examination into the Middlesbrough Local Development Framework Regeneration Development Plan Document. The Regional Advisory Committee therefore recommends that the felling licence be granted.

Longridge Woods

Please sign our e-petition on the following link.

   http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/LongridgeWood/
 

 

 

Middlesbrough Council have now decided to re-market Longridge Wood as the price offered by Yuills the preferred developer has dropped.  Lets hope no one is interested now after all the publicity we have had.   If you are a developer looking at this site we will not give up the fight.  We have lots more we can do.

Things have certainly taken off since Middlesbrough Council told us they were listening to the people.  The media have totally got involved and we have had publications in the gazette and northern echo.  We have managed to get publicity on BBC and we are on the Politics Show on Sunday 15th March 2009.  We are also doing a petition where we hope to get hundreds of names if you would like to sign or even like to take a petition to get names please get in touch.

The council turned up early on Monday morning and proceeded to rip up half of the woodland  in an act of 'wanton destruction'.                                                     

At least 30 personel were involved at what cost who knows.

How will this effect Middlesbrough as a whole?   If you demolish 600 plus trees this must have an effect on flooding. 

The Development Planning Document is due for scrutiny by and independent planning officer on Tuesday and Wednesday 25th & 26th Nov.08.  This is in connection with all the forms that we sent in to the council earlier in the year.  Let's hope he can see it from our point of view.

We are thrilled that Marton West Ward won a silver in the Northumbria in Blook competition.  The judges wrote into their report that they hope that Longridge Wood can be kept as a conservation area.

 

Marton West has been entered into the Northumbria In Bloom competition.  We walked Longridge Wood with the judges on 15th July to show Marton West has a natural green space which is a great habitat for wild life. The judges were most impressed with the site and told us it was an asset not only to our area but to Middlesbrough as a whole.  As we walked through the site today one of the judges saw a deer in the trees.  We are so lucky to have this on our door step. 

 

Please help keep this beautiful woodland. 

THE APPLICATION TO REGISTER THIS LAND AS A VILLAGE GREEN HAS BEEN REJECTED.  HOWEVER WE WILL NOT GIVE UP.  WE HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR 3 YEARS NOW AND WE INTEND TO KEEP FIGHTING.

Public Enquiry 3rd 4th 5th and 6th December, The Mandella Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough. 

We would like to make this site into a Country Park.  We could include Newham Grange Leisure Farm, Fairy Dell, and Longridge Woods and have a fantastic Country Park in Middlesbrough.  Middlesbrough Council also own two fields adjoining this site and they could eventually be included in the project.

Longridge Woods, in Middlesbrough are 7.2 hectares of natural woodland where deer graze each morning. A wide variety of animals have been seen including foxes and this summer it was covered in butterflies and moths.

People walk in the woods everyday and it is a natural children's play area.

However, it is now scheduled for the development of 70 to 80 houses.

5 local community councils oppose the plan, we have a petition of over 500 names and have invited local councillors to view the site.

Articles about this have been printed in the Evening Gazette, Herald & Post, Stockton & Darlington Times and Northern Echo, and we were headline news on ITV.







 




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