Friends of Little Park on Valley Road Hebden Bridge are collecting signatures for a petition to Calderdale Council, protesting against interference with the playground by developers of the building site that sits right next to the playground.
News emerged recently on HebWeb that:
“from February 2016 a significant part of the Little Park playground is going to be fenced off for approximately 10 months during weekdays 8am-5pm…”
At the Little Park, Steph Jones, mother of a small child, said,
“Parents and children use the Park all the time, it’s the only one in Hebden for little kids now the play cafe on Central Street’s closed down. It needs to stay open all the time.”
Parents and children have been busy making their views known in advance of a site visit on Wednesday by Calderdale Council Neighbourhood Officer Andrew Pitts, when he is to meet members of Friends of the Little Park, according to a post on the Friends’ facebook page.
HebWeb broke the news in late October with the information that:
“Over 10 months from February 2016 the toddler swings and pirate ship will be fenced off between 8am – 5pm Monday to Friday…
The developer Phil Bradby has applied for access under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act. Presently negotiations are underway between the council and developer regarding the health and safety requirements required to ensure child safety within the playground during Phase 2 .
During Phase 2 the developer will be paying £75 a week to the council which will be given back to the playground. Although it is appreciated that the money will go back onto the playground, the community who use it would much rather have a safe and accessible playground for 10 l Bradmonths!”
Mystified by all this, Plain Speaker asked a few questions of Andrew Pitts, the Neighbourhood Officer at Calderdale Council who is responsible for such things.
- What exactly is the Council’s health and safety proposal for fencing off the playground from the building site?
- Where is the fence going?
- Will it fence off the pirate ship and toddler swings from the rest of the playground?
Andrew Pitts replied:
“Our priority is to ensure that construction work next to the play area in Little Park is carried out safely. However, we know how important this great facility is to local families, so we want it to remain accessible.
“We have asked the developer to put fencing around their scaffolding, which means the cradle swings for young children may have to be taken out of use during construction. However, we will assess this when the fencing is in place, and if it is safe we will allow continued use of the swings. If not, we will replace one of the other swings in the playground with a cradle swing so there are still facilities for all age groups. The only other impact will be the temporary removal of a single pole on the climbing frame.”
Update 4th November: Andrew Pitts confirmed this at a productive site meeting today with Friends of the Little Park.
“Crazy development should never have been allowed”
The surprise news of the developer’s intrusion into the playground has reignited controversy about the development. Why was the need to fence off some of the Little Park for safety reasons not dealt as part of the planning application? Why should the Council agree to the developer interfering with the public’s use and enjoyment of public land?
Add to these questions the issue of access to the building site over a fragile rusty bridge, plus an obvious risk of the site flooding, and many members of the public in Hebden Bridge can’t understand how the Council ever granted planning permission for the new houses.
At the Little Park, passerby Trisha Day told Plain Speaker,
“That development is clearly crazy and should never have been allowed.”
The development is for 8 flats on the land next to the playground and parking on the rusty bridge.