At loggerheads in Cleckheaton over proposal to replace hedges with railings

Some of the residents protest against removal of their hedges and replacement by railings at Turnsteads Drive, Ckeckheaton

Residents and a housing association are at loggerheads over plans to replace hedges with railings at a Cleckheaton estate.

Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing proposes replacing the hedges, which some residents say give the area a smart appearance and are a habitat for nesting birds, at Turnsteads Drive, Cleckheaton, with railings.

Some residents are protesting against removal of their hedges and replacement by railings at Turnsteads Drive, Ckeckheaton

They claim their complaints have been ignored and that a petition they have carried out shows more than half the road’s residents want to retain the hedges. The housing association has carried out a survey of its own and insists that more residents want the railings.

But following a meeting with two senior Kirklees Council managers contractor work has been suspended for the time, said a spokesman for Turnsteads Action Group, representing residents opposed to the change.

The promise of a series of round-the-table meetings to put forward their objections to the plan has led them to withdraw an application submitted to the High Court for a judicial review of the previous consultation process.

He said the issue had been rumbling on since the start of the year and that ward councillor Coun Kath Pinnock agreed the plans should be considered if more than half the residents agreed. Their petition was freely available to see, but they had not been allowed to see the results of the association’s own survey, with the association citing the Data Protection Act, leaving campaigners suspicious of the results, he added.

Coun Pinnock said KNH had an annual budget for environmental improvements which its residents’ associations, including Turnstead’s, could submit ideas. They had put forward this proposal and it was accepted.

Management were left in a quandry following the TAG petition’s claimed findings and organised its own survey, speaking to 70 residents. A majority, albeit small, agreed the changes should go ahead and other residents should accept the decision.

“They survey was done fairly,” she said. “not everyone has taken the opportunity to have their say and some will not want it to happen, but in a democracy you have to accept that other people might not agree with you,” she said.

A spokesperson for KNH said: “The new fencing scheme was prioritised by the local area forum and approved by the Batley and Spen District Committee last November, following residents’ complaints about overgrown hedges and concerns that people could hide behind them. The aim is to improve the appearance of the area, reduce the amount of time and costs involved in maintaining the hedges and address concerns over personal safety. As such, the proposal has the backing of the local tenants and residents association and ward councillors.”

Following a petition, they consulted again. “This time 26 were in favour of the scheme, 24 were against and the others did not express a preference either way,” she said.

She said staff and contractors had suffered intimidation from the group. “ While we appreciate that some people are unhappy, this is unacceptable and we need to resolve the issue calmly and collectively. We are prepared to consult with the group again to see if we can address some of the concerns raised but do have to come up with a low maintenance, long lasting and sustainable solution,” she said.

TAG deny there has been any intimidation. “No way have we been doing that,” said the spokesman.

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