CONCERN and strong feelings about the third planning application for a pub/hotel on Castle Hill have been expressed in the Examiner’s columns for weeks.
Now the deadline for objections, comments and support is looming.
But why is this application so contentious?
Many of us enjoyed the Castle Hill pub.
I lived at the foot of the hill for 15 years and enjoyed many evenings, including my stag party there. Great attachment to the memory of the demolished hill top pub remains, but permitted development rights were lost with the demolition of the unlisted hotel building. Some people are baffled by this.
Any early 21st Century planning application for a building on the site is problematic.
Any development in the green belt sets a precedent.
Planning authorities have planning policies to protect the green belt and to manage development. The whole of Castle Hill is in green belt.
Development on green belt land is contrary to paragraph 87 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which states that it should only be permitted in "very special circumstances."
Such a circumstance can be when an agricultural worker needs to live near livestock or a ‘granny flat’ annex is needed to a family home. No very special circumstances have been demonstrated in this application.
In fact there is, sadly, a surfeit of public houses. Pubs are closing every day so very special circumstances for a new pub in green belt anywhere seems unlikely.
Castle Hill is also a scheduled ancient monument protected under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act.
The proposed building would damage the visual and archaeological integrity of the monument contrary to paragraph 132 of the NPPF which states that substantial harm such as that which the hotel would cause would be "wholly exceptional."
Recently Jo Heron, president of Huddersfield Archaeological Society, said: "Castle Hill is the most valuable asset in Kirklees." No case for wholly exceptional treatment has been made by the developer.
The Grade II Victoria Tower would have its setting adversely affected by the proposed hotel contrary to NPPF paragraph 129.
Kirklees Council, in partnership with English Heritage and the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service, have produced a Conservation Management Plan for Castle Hill. The proposed hotel does not comply with this plan, having an adverse effect on the unique landscape value, character and exposed setting of the site.
Castle Hill has recently been designated a nature reserve. The development would destroy the tranquility needed for the reserve to thrive.
The notion of installing traffic lights on the monument is alarming – a completely inappropriate development on Iron Age archaeology. The lane up Castle Hill Side is a byway open to all traffic.
It is clear that cannot, on several counts, be widened.
There are also issues in the application about the limited car parking, lack of staff accommodation, absence of drainage provision and the token community facilities (those proposed are no bigger than a domestic garage) and poor refuse provision.
Organisations that have objected to the current application include English Heritage, The Council for the Protection of Rural England, Huddersfield Civic Society and Huddersfield Archaeological Society.
Any representation on the application (2012/93683 erection of public house/hotel with associated parking Castle Hill, Almondbury) should be made, with your name and address, by this Friday January 4 in any of three ways.
Online : www2.kirklees.gov.uk/business /planning/ application_search/detail .aspx?id =2012%2f93683
You can email direct to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by letter to: Planning, Kirklees Council, Market Street, PO Box B93, Civic Centre 3, Huddersfield, HD1 2JR
As this is a planning application, the nature or character to the applicant and licensing considerations are not relevant.
Any opinions submitted should concentrate on planning issues such as the planning history of the site, the visual impact of the development, affect on public amenity, access, traffic and highway considerations or the impact on listed buildings and monuments.
Castle Hill is worthy of our time, it is a special place to Huddersfield people around the world. Make sure your views are considered.