The application last June for 15 houses on the paddock between Church End and Great Denham was withdrawn following much local opposition. Now the developer is back with a fresh application to construct 5 dwellings on the site, following the success of another developer (on Appeal) to build 249 properties west of Gold Lane. Once again this application must be vigorously opposed, not just to preserve one of the few remaining green spaces in the village, but also because it will close the vital gap with Great Denham, and with its new housing will affect the historic character of this part of the village.
The Biddenham Society (founded 1965)
Church End paddock threatened again
Blakeney Estates Ltd (Mr O Doyle) has served notice in the local press that the proprietor intends to apply for planning permission to construct 15 dwellings on the 2.5-acre paddock between nos. 21 to 41 Church End and the golf course, demolishing the existing property of 21 Church End to provide access. This will be the developer’s fourth attempt in the last ten years to build on the site, all previous applications having been refused and the subsequent appeals dismissed.
The paddock is one of the few remaining green spaces in the old village, and is separated from the golf course and its housing by a popular public footpath running from Manor Road to The Branston Way.
This developer has a long history of back land development all over Biddenham. Many residents will be unaware of the extent of this, as the properties are often not easily visible from the public highway. Unfortunately, the outcome has been to obliterate many of Biddenham’s remaining green spaces, as well as having knock-on effects on the routes of underground water courses.
When the formal application is submitted, the society will once again be objecting to the development, and we urge residents to do likewise.
Tony Wood, Chairman
On 28th July 2017, contractors for the landowner once again destroyed a major section of the historic Biddenham Coffin Path by indiscriminate ploughing. This despite the various approaches made to him by the Parish Council and the Biddenham Society following the previous occasion. It appears the Wingfield Estate has scant consideration for villagers and the many other users of this attractive right of way.
The society will again pursue this matter, but if the landowner continues to be unwilling to make any effort to address the regular desecration of this historic and popular route, it may be necessary for more direct action to be taken.
The Biddenham Society (founded 1965)
Chairman: Dr Tony Wood
Just a quick note to keep you all up to date:
I have asked Jack Hawkesworth to forward your email to Mr Wingfield. It says it all.
& I spoke to Jack Hawkesworth yesterday, who had previously told me the path would be reinstated on Monday. He said this would be done to a decent width, with a tractor wheel. He told me this had not been done as expected due to the weather; the field is far too waterlogged to attempt the work. I guess it will be done once the rain stops and things dry out a bit.
It won’t be long before it is seeded with grass, at which time I believe Jack is saying the path will be rolled flat properly.
Biddenhamites jealously guard their heritage. So we were very excited when we heard, within hours of posting ‘Destruction and desecration’, that work had already been undertaken to restore the Coffin Path.
We rushed down to see. Hmmm. We couldn’t really spot the difference.
We do hope that there is more to be done yet to restore the paths, because can what has been done so far conceivably be acceptable as complying with the obligations of the Rights of Way Act 1990?
You may spot a hazy, vague impression of the paths in some distance shots but as you progress through the field, still trying to avoid spraining an ankle or two, of paths there appears to be nothing.
Apparently, barley has been sown in the field, and the good news is if the barley grows over where the paths should be we are entitled to cut it back. We’d better warn the DIY stores there could be a run on scythes later in the year?
Let’s hope the Borough Council will tell us there is still more restoration work to be done to bring the Coffin Path and footpath 10 back into obvious being and at appropriate widths. We don’t want another ‘dovecote moment’.
This whole saga does bring out the importance of communication. Had villagers known in advance that work was due to be done affecting a right of way, particularly in such a sensitive area and on a path so significant to the village’s heritage, there could perhaps have been proper discussion and agreed action before the event. We have heard there was some discussion between the Borough Council and the Estate last December. If that is the case was any effort made to communicate with Biddenham?
So in the meantime keep on trampling and look out those recipes that make good use of barley.
Villagers were up in arms this week about the landowner’s “scorched earth” attack on the field to the west of the village pond which wiped out a substantial stretch of the ancient Coffin Path.
Parish and local councillors were inundated with calls for action from concerned villagers outraged at the destruction and desecration of the village’s heritage. In the meantime, at the risk of sprained ankles, villagers continued to walk the line the path had for centuries followed.
Whilst there is a statutory right for the occupier of land to plough or otherwise disturb a right of way under the Rights of Way Act 1990, the occupier must thereafter make good the surface to not less than its minimum width and indicate the line of the path.
Villagers were heartened to hear on Friday that following representations to the Borough Council the landowner had been instructed to fulfil those obligations for the Coffin Path (footpath 13). Similar action needs also to be taken to restore the section of footpath 10 which has been destroyed.
And, of course, villagers must remain vigilant in the event the landowner may prevaricate or may mount another attack on these paths or other paths in the future. The landowner has been asked to contact the Borough Council if they intended to cultivate any more Public Rights of Way in the area in order that they can be advised of locations and widths.
Watch out too for the Conservation Area report due to be issued for consultation sometime this year, which will be an opportunity once more to stress the importance of the preservation of the Coffin Path as part of the village’s heritage, and hopefully that can then be enshrined in conservation requirements to be observed in the future.