Threat of closure of cobbled highway in Hebden Bridge

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The owner of Hebble House, formerly the Hole in the Wall pub, in Hebden Bridge, Calderdale, wants to stop up part of an ancient, cobbled highway known as Old Gate and use it for private parking.

The application has been made to the council under section 116 of the Highways Act 1980.  If the council wants to proceed, the plan will have to go to the magistrates’ court for confirmation.  Any member of the public may attend and make representations.  We have put in an objection.

The only legal ground on which this highway can be stopped up is that it is unnecessary.  The statement accompanying the application makes no reference to the highway being unnecessary.  The applicant dismisses the highway as having ‘no real function’.  In fact it has a very important function, as part of a route for walkers, riders and cyclists.


The highway under threat.

The highway under threat.


Clearly this highway is necessary for many reasons.   Without it, the route would become an awkward, narrow passageway instead of the thoroughfare it is at present.  People would feel constrained and shut in.  It is used by walkers, riders and cyclists and if the width of the highway is reduced they will be competing for space, at some risk to the users.

Moreover this is part of an ancient packhorse route between Halifax and Heptonstall and on into Lancashire.


The highway outside Hebble House.

The highway outside Hebble House.

This is an important element of Hebden Bridge’s history.  Hebden Bridge is proud to be the first Walkers Are Welcome Town, and Calderdale Council and Hebden Bridge’s businesses should all be celebrating this and making it as easy as possible for walkers to enjoy the town, not stopping up public highways for private gain.

So we have objected strongly to public highway being converted into a private parking-area and have urged the council to reject the application.

Stop press: on 8 January Hebden Royd Town Council voted unanimously to oppose the application.  Under section 116 of the Highways Act 1980 town and parish councils have a power of veto.  So that is the end of it.  Gwen Goddard spoke at the meeting on behalf of OSS.  Read more here.


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