Author Topic: Leach Fields footpaths  (Read 129284 times)

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Offline username

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #60 on: March 25, 2009, 04:06:52 pm »
This is really bad news. After having used this space for years its unbelievable that this has happening. These fields are some of the best parts of BP and its a real shame that they can no longer be accessed. Although I understand this land is private it just feels as though we have had it taken from us unfairly. Damaging equipment seems a little futile and is also just going to worsen the situation.   
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #61 on: March 25, 2009, 04:12:22 pm »
Quote
but I don't see why the owners should be punished.

No matter how “nice” they may have been in the past, as far as I can see what they are doing is illegal and being “nice” does not give anyone a right to break the law. If a footpath has been in use for 20 years or more (which these paths certainly have) then they can become a legal right of way. Leach homes appear to have suddenly realised this and are desperately trying to block them in an attempt to prevent this happening, but it should be too late. However, it needs a concerted effort by local residents to enforce these regulations.

On another note, it’s all very well for everyone to be up in arms now, but where were all these people for the last 20+ years when the only people attempting to preserve these fields were the 4 or 5 active members of the Gobions Woodland trust. In fact, as I understand it one of their main problems was with the neighbours of the Leach Fields whose continuous encroachment on the fields (building gates, expanding their gardens etc) caused them nothing but headaches and has even resulted in Leach Homes threatening to sue the individual Trustees for not maintaining the boundaries, hence the reason the fields have been taken back.

It serves us all right!
 

Offline sasquartch

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #62 on: March 25, 2009, 04:29:16 pm »
If a footpath has been in use for 20 years or more (which these paths certainly have) then they can become a legal right of way.

On a practical note, does anyone know whether this is in fact the case and in practical terms, what can be done to make these rights of way accessible again ?

I don't think it 'serves us all right', many people have not lived in BP for 20+ years and this forum certainly didn't exist then so communication was certainly harder.

I think there would be large number of people who would support legal action to reinstate access but someone with legal know-how would need to be involved to lead it.
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #63 on: March 25, 2009, 04:49:54 pm »
Hi Sasquartch

Here's what a wrote a few posts ago, take a look at the link:

I've been talking to a few of my neighbours, some of whom have been walking the same paths across those fields for even longer that I have.

Surely there must be a right of way if we've been walking the paths for 30 years or more?

Here's a link I've just been looking at which shows what might be required:

http://www.hertsdirect.org/infobase/docs/pdfstore/MODPackSample08.pdf

It would need everyone to pull together, anyone else up for it?



 

Offline JLC

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #64 on: March 25, 2009, 05:08:46 pm »
The document which Mermaid refers to says...

"Use by the Public

A public right of way can come into existence through usage by the public over a sufficient period of time.
If you are making an application based on user evidence, you will need to submit user evidence from other people who have used the route. It is not sufficient to say that you have seen others using the route. To assist you in collecting evidence from the public, we have compiled a User Evidence form which collects the basic information we need when deciding on an application. For example, you will need to provide evidence to show:
• that the route has been used openly (that is without force secrecy or permission) for at least 20 years by the public
• that more than a few people used the route i.e. the public in general
• that the landowner never tried to prevent people using the route
• that a specific route from A to B is used, rather than people wandering freely over open land..."

I have no idea of the circumstances that apply over Leach Fields but I would imagine that the "without force secrecy or permission" bit is rather important!
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #65 on: March 25, 2009, 05:12:17 pm »
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I don't think it 'serves us all right',

Maybe not. But as far as I am aware I was the last “new” active person to join the Gobion’s work parties, and that was 17 years ago. And I gave up after 4 years. No-one who has moved to the area since then can claim to have made any effort to help. One of my main gripes was the attitude of many local people who simply regarded the work party as someone to do their bidding or people who were simply obstructing them.  I re-itterate, serves us all right!

Anyway, http://www.ramblers.org.uk/rights_of_way/take_action/claim_an_unrecorded_right_of_way.htm this indicates that we should be able to claim a right of way. I have it on reasonable authority that leach Fields have never registered the paths, which would have prevented a right of way being granted.
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #66 on: March 25, 2009, 05:27:14 pm »
I have a copy of the form that needs filling in here, we need at least 6 people to fill it in and claim that they have been using the right of way for over 20 years!

As far as I can see, there are two possible rights of way we can claim. from Bluebridge Road to Gobions open Space and from Bluebridge Road to Gobions Wood.

Is there anyone there who would like to fill one of these forms in (and is eligible). I would be happy to submit them.
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #67 on: March 25, 2009, 05:31:55 pm »
Me again!

As I understand it, Gobions Woodland Trust first leased the fields in 1988. Over 20 years ago! Does anyone have any maps or leaftlets from that time (or before) which may indicate the footpaths in existence at the time?
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #68 on: March 25, 2009, 07:39:04 pm »
Well done MikeL for getting the forms. I have 4 people that are eligible to sign so far, the more we get the better......

 

Offline AnneK

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #69 on: March 25, 2009, 07:50:13 pm »
Brookmans Park residents certainly don't deserve to lose a much-loved amenity like Leach Fields just because we haven't all been part of the Gobions work parties. Most people probably didn't know that help was needed. Either that or they'd like to take part but feel that the work parties are a bit of a 'club' by now and aren't sure they'd be welcome. Anyway, that's all moot now that there's a tangible threat to Leach Fields and, by its proximity to the Fields, Gobions. People always come out of the woodwork in these situations. Better late than never.

I guess I (and many others) won't be of much use in the effort to protect the rights of way through Leach Fields because I've only lived in the area for a year. Perhaps a petition attached to the form that MikeL is proposing to submit to the council would help to drive home the strength of feeling about this? I'm out pounding the pavements most days with my girls and I'm not shy about knocking on doors and asking for signatures. Alternatively, if one of the village's shop owners were amenable, I (with a bit of help) could try try to collect signatures one Saturday. It's just a thought. Perhaps someone who's been through this process before could advise on whether this kind of thing is helpful?
 

Offline Alfred the Great

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #70 on: March 25, 2009, 09:30:32 pm »
Hate to dash your hopes but the very fact that the fields have been LEASED for the last 20 years indicates that the use of the land was by permission only and that no rights other than as set out in the lease were intended to be conferred. The paths around and across the fields were established by GWT and have no other status. I regret the loss of the fields (and the wanton vandalism) but I think the probability of establishing rights of way is infinitesimally small, and even if it did happen, would not stop the development, just constrain the road layout somewhat.

What I can't understand is how the land has been green belt for so long (and is shown on the council plan as a "nature reserve") but can so easily be converted to residential use.

Perhaps our best plan is to get our energetic MP involved? To stop the land being taken out of the green belt, which would stop all the current nonsense and then the Wildlife people could buy the land off Leach for a pittance. We can dream.

ATG
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MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #71 on: March 25, 2009, 10:38:26 pm »
I'm no lawyer but I don't see how the fact that one party leases the land to another has any bearing on the fact that the footpaths have been used. Would it be any different if Leach Homes has leased the land to a local farmer or the Vet College?

As I understand it, Leach homes are not clearing it for imminent development but are urgently trying close all footpaths in order to prevent any rights of way being established. As stated above, I believe they are too late, providing we act now. It can't hurt to try. If we simply give up, it definitely won't happen.

The form to fill in is at the following address http://www.ramblers.org.uk/Resources/Ramblers%20Association/Website/Rights%20of%20Way/Documents/Row_evidence_form.pdf

The grid references of the paths appear to be :

1 - To the Open Space
E524464, N203567 to E524848, N203875

2 - To the Woods
E524464, N203567 to E524778, N203499

If anyone would like to fill in these forms (and lives locally) I'll happily pick it up and send them on to the Council.

I realise that this won't have any bearing on future development, but it will enable us to continue to walk accross the fields in the meantime.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 10:58:41 pm by MikeL »
 

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #72 on: March 26, 2009, 07:47:32 am »
A security caravan has been parked at the Bluebridge Road entrance to Leach Fields along with a sign warning that the area is being patrolled. .
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Offline GWTSEC

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #73 on: March 26, 2009, 08:35:44 am »
The bottom of West Path is hazardous and should not be trampled over until it has been inspected by HMWT. This will be done ASAP.
I will try and get some sort of notice at the top of the path.
 I know it is a nuisance but please  everyone be patient and use the access paths from Bluebridge Road, and Oak tree path, which is at the East end of the Lake, or Mymms Drive. Please do not make your own pathways into
 the woods from the West Path.
 

Offline James Bentall

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #74 on: March 26, 2009, 10:01:38 am »
The bottom of West Path is hazardous and should not be trampled over until it has been inspected by HMWT. This will be done ASAP.

Are you having a work party this Sunday morning? Is this something Joe Public can come along and help with?
James Bentall, Brookmans Park, Herts.
I post in a personal capacity and not on behalf of North Mymms Parish Council
 

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #75 on: March 26, 2009, 10:20:03 am »
Are you having a work party this Sunday morning? Is this something Joe Public can come along and help with?

Hi James,

Just in case June doesn't log in immediately, I offered to help (I am working from home this week), but they first need to assess the route. Diverting the path would take it through saplings and land where there are wild flowers, such as Wild Violets and Celendine. The HMWT doesn't want people trampling them, so they need to assess the situation and come up with a solution. For now the best solution seems to be to divert pedestrians away from that path, called the West Path. It is possible to avoid the area by entering Gobions Woodland higher up, but it adds ten mins or so to any walk.

David
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Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #76 on: March 26, 2009, 10:43:02 am »
What I can't understand is how the land has been green belt for so long (and is shown on the council plan as a "nature reserve") but can so easily be converted to residential use.

Perhaps our best plan is to get our energetic MP involved? To stop the land being taken out of the green belt, which would stop all the current nonsense and then the Wildlife people could buy the land off Leach for a pittance. We can dream.

Leach Homes do not have planning permission to develop this land.  Please be assured that the land is still in the Green Belt and is still a Nature Conservation Area.  Our MP is quite vocal about protecting the Green belt and is the main speaker at a Green Belt Soc public meeting on Monday 30th March starting at 8pm in the NM Youth and Community Centre, Station Road.

Nature Conservation Area status unfortunately does not restrict what an owner can do with the land.

Welwyn Hatfield Council is being forced by the Government to designate land for housing up to 2031 and the council is currently consulting the public on where that housing might go, and other issues as well.  About 180 people attended the Green Belt Soc AGM last Monday and heard Cllr Stephen Boulton explain all this.  The council held a drop-in session yesterday afternoon at the BP church to explain to people about this consultation.

The Green Belt Soc is issuing a Newsletter to every household in the next two weeks with suggested response forms for you to complete and return, objecting to any more housing around Brookmans Park, Welham Green and Little Heath.  Please don't file them in the bin.  Complete them, add your own thoughts (polite of course) and return them via the Society.  I believe this is the best way to ensure that the Leach Fields remain in the Green Belt  and undeveloped.


Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #77 on: March 26, 2009, 12:17:58 pm »
Apparently the hedgerows are being torn up now, presumably with no thought as to how many birds' nests they may contain  >:(

Surely they can't do that!! I'm sure there's some kind of law about not touching the hedges in the birds' breeding season!! At a designated Wildlife Site too, they should be ashamed of themselves!

If you care about the birds, I'm told that the local wildlife officer is Dave Wardell, who can be reached through 01707-638100, or email:

david 'dot' wardell 'at' herts 'dot' pnn 'dot' police 'dot' uk

(obviously substitute . for 'dot' and @ for 'at')




 

Offline joebrownlie

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #78 on: March 26, 2009, 12:38:33 pm »
Speaking to the contractors yesterday afternoon, the hydraulic pipes and cabin to the digger were cut and damaged respectively, tyres on the dumper slashed and the lock to the gate had been glued. Although it is horrifying what is happening to the paths/fields and it is clear it will get worse as the digger gets to work today, Acts of vandalism' aren't helpful. It is a pity some 'stay of execution' or subpoena couldn't be inacted to give time to find out the legal position? 

Joe
 

Offline Bobb

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #79 on: March 26, 2009, 12:44:51 pm »
It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. It will be an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in the hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest in the process.

I'm at work so can't get down there but I'm wondering if someone went down there and told them about nesting birds would it make further detruction an offence?
 

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #80 on: March 26, 2009, 12:55:55 pm »
It is worrying how quickly they are working- obviously this has been planned for a fair while. I suppose the idea is to get the work done before anyone has enough time to act with any force.   
 

Offline James Bentall

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #81 on: March 26, 2009, 12:59:15 pm »
Nature Conservation Area status unfortunately does not restrict what an owner can do with the land.

Eh? So what's the point in them then?
James Bentall, Brookmans Park, Herts.
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Offline Mermaid

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #82 on: March 26, 2009, 01:04:36 pm »
It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. It will be an intentional act, for example, if you or your neighbour know there is an active nest in the hedge and still cut the hedge, damaging or destroying the nest in the process.

I'm at work so can't get down there but I'm wondering if someone went down there and told them about nesting birds would it make further detruction an offence?

I'm hoping that the Wildlife Officer will do that, I couldn't get him on the phone, but have left a message and emailed. The more people who raise the issue the more likely it is that something will be done ..........
 

Offline Bobb

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #83 on: March 26, 2009, 01:19:11 pm »
I think this may be their website - http://www.leachhomes.co.uk

It has an contact section and phone numbers should anyone on here want to call them for a friendly chat and to find out what is going on. Thier office appears to be closed at the moment - I'll try back after lunch. Happy to wait in a queue should anyone else want to give them a call as well.

 

Offline Bobb

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #84 on: March 26, 2009, 02:14:00 pm »
It is the company - they do own Leach Fields.

Spoke to the receptionist - surprisingly no one was available to answer any of my questions. I had wanted to ask what they were doing, whether the wildlife officer was aware etc.

They have promised to call me back which I would seriously doubt.

I would urge anyone else concerned to call to see if they get more joy - I think demonstrating local opinion might be a good thing - the number is on the website (01920-824700)
 

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #85 on: March 26, 2009, 02:18:26 pm »
I am away at the moment, but if anyone has any pictures of the hedgerows, please mail them to me and I will add them later.

David
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Offline Therock

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #86 on: March 26, 2009, 02:21:17 pm »
I  was talking yesterday(wed) to a guy who was erecting the new fence and chains on the gate at the Bluebridge Road entrance,and he told me that due to Insurance problems that the Company I presume "LEACH" were not going to pay for the insurance for people to cross the land that they own. He said that due to the previous people not renewing the contract that this is why they have closed the footpaths and erected gates.

As you will see if you go down and look at the entrance there is a sign saying PRIVATE LAND. I have quoted what this Guy said to me and he seemed to know a lot of what he was talking about.

THE ROCK


 

Offline Bobb

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #87 on: March 26, 2009, 02:24:31 pm »
no reason to go ripping up wildlife and draining ponds though.

I would not be surprised if there was more to this - why spend the money fencing off/ripping it up - it's a commercial company there has to be a reason/pay-off
 

MikeL

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #88 on: March 26, 2009, 02:30:42 pm »
Have been in touch with the "Rights of Way" dept at the council who tell me that urgent cases (ie where a path to a school or something similar has been blocked) will get looked at in 2-3 years. If it's not urgent (ie this case) it could be 8 years!

It will probably have been built on by then!
 

Offline AnneK

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Re: Leach Fields footpaths
« Reply #89 on: March 26, 2009, 03:26:08 pm »
Just placed a call to Dave Wardell to register my concern about the wildlife in Leach Fields and was told that he's already in Brookmans Park and 'on the case'. I'm glad he was able to get to Leach Fields so quickly. I was on Bluebridge about an hour ago, and the workmen aren't wasting any time. It's hard to see much - there are loads of vehicles blocking the pavement on the Leach Fields side of Bluebridge - but in addition to the hedgerows, at least one tree seems to have come up.
 

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