ERYC want to swap land at Longcroft School in return for a cycle lane along the B1230. To this end, they made an application to the Defra Common Land Team in Bristol, however, because of the complaints from the Beverley Civic Society, and local residents, Defra are contemplating a Public Enquiry on the issue. Not happy with this ERYC have recently been contacting objectors in an attempt to get them to withdraw their objections to their proposals. They have also put pressure on the Pasture Masters to withdraw their objection and the PMs have now said that they will agree to the proposal so long as the hedgerow and bank are removed, i.e. the new land can be incorporated into Hurn pasture.
The problem that ERYC now have is that the hedge and bank are protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. In view of this they have written letters saying that the council (ERYC) will make an application to remove the hedge to the Local Planning Authority…err…ERYC!
All this for a cycle lane…?
To: Beverley Pasture Masters, East Riding of Yorkshire Council
Save Our Westwood
Please do not allow any access across the Westwood common to the developers of the old Beverley Westwood Hospital site as this is protected by the Commons legislation which allows no encroachment, however temporary, for commercial reasons. The alternative access route is more than adequate for the small number of lorry movements proposed per day.
Why is this important?
This is not a scare story: Beverley's beloved common, Westwood, is under threat. There is a proposal to allow temporary access across a portion of the Westwood to permit the developers easy access to the old Westwood Hospital Site. If this were to happen this would set a precedent that could then be used by other developers to access other potential development sites adjacent to the Westwood, such as the Grammar School, Minster School, Archery Field, East Riding College, Longcroft Lower School, Longcroft Higher School and potentially Grosvenor Place.
If any such access is granted, it is unlikely that it will ever be removed completely and damage will be done to the integrity of the Westwood as well as its fauna and flora: trees will be cut down, hedges broken through and grasslands compacted and altered forever. This, over time, will result in the loss, piece by piece, of the Westwood we know: a Westwood we have a duty to pass on to our children in the condition we inherited it. Beverlonians have protected our commons for centuries, are we really going to throw this away for the sake of six or so lorry movements per day over 18 months? If we do, we would be betraying those who fought for these commons in the past.
There is a vociferous, ill-informed campaign promoting the idea of access across the Westwood, however, the emotive campaign they are running is full of omissions. The facts of the case are set out below.
Town Route: Problems
Congestion in the narrow streets;
Increased traffic movements on these streets;
Increased noise for the residents.
Westwood Route: Problems
The route of this access road will cross and damage ancient common land;
The route will damage the existing grassland;
The route will involve the removal of a section of species-rich hedgerow;
The route will involve the removal of a small tree;
There will be increased traffic movements on the Westwood;
The temporary road will set a precedent.
Town Route: Mitigation Measures
The developers have said they will limit lorry movements to 12 per day during demolition ( c. 2 months);
The developers have said they will limit lorry movements to 6 per day during the construction phase, 16 months;
The developers will use a small lorry;
There will be no lorry movements during the rush hours nor at school pick-up and drop-off times.
Westwood Route: Mitigation Measures
The developers say they will re-instate the grassland;
They will replant the hedge;
They will replant the tree.
It would appear that the problems associated with the town route can be easily mitigated against and the very small number of lorry movements per day is more than reasonable, especially when you take into consideration the number of movements there used to be when the Westwood Hospital was open and when the new housing estate is built. These movements included ambulances, delivery vehicles, skip lorries, gritting lorries and patients being picked-up and dropped-off. Concern has also been raised regarding the danger to schoolchildren at Minster School. The developers appear to have taken this into account in their plans and will schedule no lorry movements during the rush hour or at school pick-up and drop-off times. In truth the biggest risk to school children is local residents speeding along The Leases or rat-running up Central Avenue and Thurston Road to get to Cartwright Lane.
In terms of the access across the Westwood, there appears to very little that the developers can do to mitigate against the damage they will cause. Whilst they have said they will reinstate everything they damage, in ecological terms this is easier said than done and, in most cases, is impossible. Their route will destroy a species-rich hedge which cannot be replaced in our lifetimes.
The problem of precedent cannot easily be undone, once the access route has been constructed. This will encourage other developers to do likewise in order to develop other sites, more difficult to access than the old Westwood Hospital site, by insisting on temporary access across the Westwood. This would open-up areas, such as Grosvenor Place and Minster School to development pressure.