Posted by: dianesims | January 19, 2017

Newsome Mill Ponds will stay

Newsome Mill Ponds
On Thursday 19th January 2017, the Planning Sub-Committee for the Huddersfield area voted unanimously to refuse planning application number 2016/91479. The application proposed the destruction of the 19th century mill pond and culvert at Newsome Mills, which is the oldest surviving part of the Newsome Mills site.

Kirklees Council’s planning service had recommended refusal of the plans to build 22 houses on the Newsome Mill Ponds site, and every member of the committee agreed with this recommendation.

The reason for refusing the planning application is:

“The proposal would result in the loss of an area of open space and a habitat of principle importance that would detract from the character of the local area, contrary to Policies D1, D2 parts vii, and viii, NE6 of the Kirklees Unitary Development Plan, and the guidance contained in part 11 of the National Planning Policy Framework  “Conserving and enhancing the natural environment”.”

93 people wrote to the planning service to object to the proposals. 4 people wrote in support of the proposals.

Some of the main concerns raised by local residents were:

1. The proposal would have an adverse effect on residential amenity, particularly on properties on Hart Street.

2. There are severe on street parking difficulties in the area already, these would be made worse by an additional 22 dwellings.

3. The site represents an important green area in the centre of Newsome Village that is an otherwise densely built up area.

4. The ponds are an important feature in the village and a valuable wildlife habitat to many types of birds and pond life. Their loss would have an adverse effect on the wildlife and biodiversity in the area.

5. The local infrastructure, such as schools and doctors surgeries, are already overstretched.

6. The scheme shown would have a detrimental effect on the trees along the boundary of the site (which are the subject of a Tree Preservation Order).

7. Similar plans have already been turned down in 2008/9.

8. The loss of the ponds would be irreversible, and would damage the character of the area and the setting of Newsome Mills.

9. The ponds are an important part of the surrounding surface water drainage system and their loss or filling in could have significant implications for the surface water drainage of the area.

Open space issues

The potential loss of this open space remains a key concern. We know that the Newsome Mill Ponds site has a high amenity value for local residents. We see how people benefit from the open space on a daily basis, including many people living nearby who have reduced mobility and other long term health conditions. It offers much needed relief in what’s otherwise a densely built up area, and gives people contact with wildlife who can’t otherwise access green spaces.

It’s very clear that nearby residents derive a huge amount of use, enjoyment and wellbeing from this site. Local voluntary organisations have also carried out wider consultations, including household surveys, to gather attitudes about land use in the Newsome area. The draft Neighbourhood Development Plan for Newsome (which is being developed by Newsome Ward Community Forum) recommends that the ponds should be retained, based on this evidence.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have highlighted that the plans would have resulted in the loss of two mill ponds, habitats that are identified as being of principle importance in the natural environmental and rural communities act, and are regarded as conservation priorities. The loss of the ponds would be contrary to policy PLP30 in the draft local plan, and the guidance contained in paragraph 118 of the NPPF.

At the planning meeting, the case officer made clear that both the ponds and the land at Hart Street are considered open space. He also emphasised that the situation in terms of the need for this open space has not changed since 2008/9 when a similar planning application and an appeal were refused. The planning committee agreed that the open space is needed.

Heritage issues

Huddersfield Mills by Vivien TeasdaleAlthough the nineteenth century mill pond does not have Listed Building status in its own right, it is an important part of our local heritage and this was acknowledged at the meeting. Several members of the planning committee spoke about the importance of the ponds and said that they cannot be seen as separate from the other structures at Newsome Mills.

Huddersfield Civic Society objected to the application, stating that the removal of the ponds is tantamount to demolition of a listed structure, in contravention of the Planning Act 1990 and the guidance contained in NPPF paragraphs 131-133.

Local historian Vivien Teasdale, who featured Newsome Mill and its ponds on the cover of her Huddersfield Mills book, also joined the campaign to preserve the mill ponds.

If we look at the remaining structures at Newsome Mills as a whole, the ponds and the coach house buildings help us to make sense of what’s there today. The connection between these and the clock tower (and the other Grade II Listed structures on the site) is something that we need to retain. We will continue to look for ways to bring all the remaining structures at Newsome Mills into use, and to conserve our local heritage.

Despite recent events, Newsome Mills remains the most prominent site in Newsome. It’s also an important part of Huddersfield’s heritage. Our mill on the hill, unusual in itself, is only here because water could be gathered from the hillside to supply the mill. The 19th century mill pond is the oldest surviving part of the Newsome Mills site. Without this pond, there would have been no mill here, and no village growing up around it. When Lowry painted his famous view of our town from Chapel Hill, he would have seen no iconic clock tower on the hillside overlooking Huddersfield. It is part of our shared heritage – and it matters.

Thank you

I know that not everyone agrees with protecting these mill ponds. But I’ve been so overwhelmed by messages of support that I have no doubt that continuing to find a way to retain all of the structures at Newsome Mills (whilst making sure that we still get a good housing scheme on the land behind the mill) is the right thing for Newsome.

I’d like to thank the Huddersfield planning committee for listening to the concerns of local residents. I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who has spoken up to share their comments throughout the planning process, whatever your views. And thank you to everyone who has helped to spread the word – you’ve made sure that Newsome’s residents had a voice in this decision. And that matters too.


  1. Reblogged this on Jaffer's blog.

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