Author Topic: Leach Fields footpaths  (Read 128814 times)

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MikeL

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Leach Fields footpaths
« on: December 05, 2008, 05:49:46 pm »
I understand that the owners of the Leach Fields (the fields to the west of the woods, just behind Bluebridge Rd and Bluebridge Avenue) have declined to renew the leasing of them to The Gobions Woodland Trust. As they are owned by a property development company I expect we can look forwards to many more planning applications in the near future.

I also notice that there isn't actually a right of way across them. I wonder if we will still be able to walk through them?
 

Offline Ann

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2008, 12:11:54 pm »
 :(  Yes thats what we can expect....but not during the recession!

Once the building starts the fields are gone forever...sad but  a fact
 

Offline James Bentall

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2008, 12:26:34 pm »
If one developer struggles to build one house on a 20 acre field, why do you think anyone will have any more luck the other side of the stream? Surely it's still green belt land?
James Bentall, Brookmans Park, Herts.
I post in a personal capacity and not on behalf of North Mymms Parish Council
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2008, 10:43:42 am »
The Welwyn Hatfield District Plan 2005 shows the Leach Fieldss in the Green Belt and is a Nature Conservation Area.

The District Plan is currently being updated and will be known by the 'Prescottism' as a Local Development Framework.  The East of England Plan is also being updated to extend the cover period from 2001-2021 to 2031.

In the meantime the real world is in recession and house builders are struggling to sell the dwellings that have already been built.  They are not starting new approved developments such as 2 Georges Wood Road, 68 Bluebridge Road and Claregate, Little Heath. 

It seems a bit short sighted to stop getting any lease income from the Leach Fields for the next few years, unless it was a peppercorn.

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2008, 04:20:23 pm »
A representative of Leach Homes has confirmed that they are taking control of their land the 'Leach Fields' on the 1st January 2009 and that there will no longer be any access to the public. The current entrance into the fields from Bluebridge Road will be closed and locked and other entry points into the Leach Fields will be secured. Residents with gardens backing the Leach Fields will no longer be able to enter the fields from their gardens.

Visitors to Gobions can still gain access through the main entrance in Moffatts Lane.

A spokesperson for Gobions' Woodland Trust says "Gobions Wood is still open to the public at all times and can be reached from Bluebridge Road by taking Foot Path 11 (next to the bridge) or from Bluebridge Avenue through the Parish Council's Moffats Open Space".


 

Offline Ferdie

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2008, 08:19:51 am »
There is a closed public access from Moffatts Lane which was subject to a lot of heated debate many years ago when it was proposed that this was re-opened. This I believe belongs to NM Parish Council. Will this now be reconsidered as many people from the village end of BP access via Leach Fields? Alternative is a public footpath at 'Blue Bridge' at the end of the houses in Bluebridge Road on way to Little Heath but that takes you in to the woods area rather than the open space.
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2008, 10:40:06 am »
At a recent Parish Council meeting I raised the question of the locked access path off Moffats Lane and was told that it had a long history which resulted in it being locked. 

The recommended main access and car park to Gobions Open Space is the rough track next to 68 (?) Moffats Lane.  The sign indicating this entrance keeps on being removed so the Parish Council has given up on replacing it due to cost, although there is still a sign disclaiming damage (I think)

There is an access path at the end of Bluebridge Avenue which gives access through Moffats Open Space fields.  Please note that residents of Bluebridge Avenue get upset - naturally - if lots of cars park in that cul de sac particularly if they are badly parked.

In addition to the access path next to the Blue Bridge over the stream mentioned by Ferdie, there is also an entrance path to Gobions Wood next to 60 (?) Mymms Drive and another one off Mymms Drive near the A1000.

 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 12:03:13 pm »
Quite right Bob, thanks for all the additional info.

There are only 15 days remaining for public access to the Leach Fields, after that, access will be barred and anybody venturing onto the land will be trespassing on private property, as the representative of Leach Homes made quite clear. Many people go there every day, and I think it's going to be quite a shock when they realise that legal access has gone, possibly for good.

Personally speaking, I will really miss walking across the fields, they have been part of my life for so long - since childhood in fact   :)

 

Offline Alfred the Great

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 02:02:49 pm »
Well I honestly cannot see Leach Homes either:

a) prosecuting someone for trespassing on the fields after 1st Jan

or

b) fencing the southern and eastern boundaries to secure the site and prevent trespassing (major expense particularly with no planning permission in sight or likely to be granted anytime soon)

So I will continue to use the fields and paths until physically constrained. How's that for non-PC?

ATG   8)
Confucius he say "a dog is for life not just for Christmas Dinner"
 

Offline Alfred the Great

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 02:05:38 pm »
In the event that planning permission is granted I hope one of the conditions is that the existing hedgerows and elm trees are preserved.
Confucius he say "a dog is for life not just for Christmas Dinner"
 

Offline Mr Green

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 02:46:19 pm »
Well I honestly cannot see Leach Homes either:
a) prosecuting someone for trespassing on the fields after 1st Jan

Trespassing alone is not a criminal offence (so as long as you're not carrying a firearm) you're safe from prosecution.
 

Offline stevea

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2008, 03:39:38 am »
The magic mushroom pickers will be most upset - get my drift man!  ;D
 

Offline Ferdie

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2008, 10:11:07 am »
When walking over Leach Fields in the summer I saw that there was evidence of a wet area being created with a 'pond liner' being laid and planting of trees etc. Also I thought there were some benches next to the path too, plus all the signage put up and other work been done to 'improve' the area for wildlife. Will the developers be taking care of this until they develop it, ... I don't think so.... What a waste.
 

Offline James Bentall

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2008, 11:30:25 am »
Is there anyone we can write to asking them to keep access open? Or would that be counter productive? Can anyone from the Woodlands Trust help?
James Bentall, Brookmans Park, Herts.
I post in a personal capacity and not on behalf of North Mymms Parish Council
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2008, 11:57:57 am »
The Gobions Woodland Trust has done/is doing all they can. It's just a sad fact of life that the land is privately owned and that the owners, Leach Homes have declined to renew the lease which GWT has held for 20 years. Perhaps it's to do with creating (or rather not creating) Rights of Way, I don't know.

However, perhaps we ought to think "aren't we all lucky to have been able to enjoy the Leach Fields for so long"? It's been a fantastic amenity, enjoyed by nearly everyone in the community. Credit too, to the GWT members who have looked after the area so well, all of them volunteers who have given hours of their time.

I don't think that Leach Homes have given any indication yet as to what they want to do with their land. Perhaps if someone could find a colony of Greater Crested Newts (or whatever they are) before the 31st December, we could at least delay any possible housing plans ..........
 

Offline southbury

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2008, 12:21:50 pm »
Excuse my ignorance but which part of ' Gobions' are we talking about ?
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2008, 12:33:59 pm »
I thought there was a map on the GWT web page, but I can't see it.

Basically, it's all of the fields behind Bluebridge Road, from the Blue Bridge to Bluebridge Avenue, going back as far as the line of the woods and across to the wooden squeeze gate. Quite a few acres in total.
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2008, 01:20:05 pm »
Does anyone know if it is corect that if a path has been in use by the public for over 20 years then it is possible to get it classified as a public right of way? I'm sure I've read this somewhere.
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2008, 01:37:53 pm »
I'll answer my own question! According to section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, it would appear that if a path has been in use and un-opposed for 20 years then a new Right of Way can be created by “presumed dedication” UNLESS the landowner has previously submitted a statutory declaration to the highways authority of the current rights of way over the land. It would also appear that this needs to be submitted every six years.

I am sure that the paths from Bluebridge Rd to Gobions Wood and from Bluebridge Road to Gobions open space have been in use for the 15 years I have lived here, can anyone confirm that they were there 20 years ago? If so, does anyone know how we could go about creating a right of way?
 

Offline southbury

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2008, 02:30:00 pm »
thanks Mermaid .

In a less than ideal situation I guess keeping our footpath access in that area is the key thing ?
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2008, 02:39:59 pm »

In a less than ideal situation I guess keeping our footpath access in that area is the key thing ?

At the moment, as I understand it, members of the public will not have any access at all, either into the Leach Fields, or across them by footpath.

However, as earlier posts note, there are other footpaths available to both Gobions Wood and Gobions Open Space without going through Leach Fields.
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2008, 11:18:52 am »
The map (below) extracted from the District Plan shows the Leach Fields and its relationship to Bluebridge Road, Moffats Lane and Gobions Open Space.  There are no dotted lines to indicate any public footpath crossing the land.

The top part of the green area is Moffats Open Space which is owned by the Parish Council, but I do not know just where the dividing line is between the two. 
« Last Edit: December 19, 2008, 01:15:47 pm by David Brewer »
 

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2008, 12:40:19 pm »
Just been out for a walk around Leach Fields in order to take some pictures before the area is sealed off to the public.















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Offline sasquartch

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2008, 09:35:56 pm »
A great shame that it won't be open to public access any longer.

I will be interested to see how secure the area will be made and if, in practice, people will still use the land. It would not be practical to properly secure and monitor the area without incurring great expense. As has already been said, trespass in itself is not illegal as long as no damage is done.

My guess is that the owners simply want to prevent any rights of way being established so as not to detract from its value if at some point in the future planning consent is granted. At present the land really only has 'hope value' in the same way that Friday Grove had.

So possibly it will continue to be accessible albeit unofficially. Maybe even in future GWT may be able to lease it again, let's hope so.
 

Offline southbury

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2008, 07:46:52 am »
Bob ,

Is it likely that any ' Rights of Way' have been established by use in recent years ?

rgds.
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2008, 04:05:55 pm »
Is it likely that any ' Rights of Way' have been established by use in recent years ? 

Sorry but I am not very knowledgeable on rights of way.  There was a similar discussion a few years ago on the Footpath 11 from near Folly Arch, through a gate and then due north along the side of the field to a stile leading into Gobions Wood.  The RVC eventually replaced the stile with the kissing gate.  If memory serves me right the discussion concluded that people had to prove the paths had been used for 20 years without any dispute by the freeholder.

Some great pictures by Dave but the well-established paths and gates on some photos suggest some are of Gobions Open Space.

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2008, 04:29:11 pm »
Hi Bob,

I think all the pictures are within Leach Fields except this one below, which is looking from inside Gobions Woodland across a bridge, within Gobions land, to Leach Fields.



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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2008, 09:34:12 pm »

At a recent Parish Council meeting I raised the question of the locked access path off Moffats Lane and was told that it had a long history which resulted in it being locked. 


Hi Bob,

Can someone explain the 'long history'. Just saying it has a long history doesn't seem like a reasonable explanation to me. It seems to me that the path is an ideal point of access that would be of great benefit to local people. It is North Mymms Parish Council land, I understand, so why is it locked?  Can someone explain and reveal what needs to happen to get it opened?  I would certainly use it.  Here is a picture of the gate taken from the Moffats Open Space.

David

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Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2008, 10:54:18 am »
Hi Dave
Perhaps someone else can explain since I only received the Parish Councillors angle on this topic.

It was a while ago that I raised this at a Parish Council meeting.  My memory of the discussion was that there was a public meeting about this footpath which got quite lively, with a decision to lock the gates.

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2009, 01:11:26 pm »
Doesn't look like Leach Homes has made much of an effort to deter trespassers. I saw a large padlock on the gate from Bluebridge, but the foot entrance is still wide open and no signs. The same with all the other access points from Gobions Woodland and Gobions Open Space. Not surprising, then, to see some people still enjoying the fields on this lovely, frosty, sunny day.











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