KEEPING YOU IN TOUCH - YOUR FREE MONTHLY NEWSPAPER DELIVERED DOOR-TO-DOOR FOR 31 YEARS Letters to the Cockermouth Post Sustainable Drainage Systems (or SuDS) ponds

When Allerdale Borough Council gave Story Homes approval to build Phase 1 of a housing estate on Strawberry How back in Dec 2014, I wonder if they really understood what the flood alleviation measures would look like. The developer, Story Homes, talked loftily about Sustainable Drainage Systems (or SuDS) ponds that would provide the buffering of excess surface water from entering Tom Rudd Beck. The photographs show the reality of the Phase 1 SuDS pond. In less than one year, this green-algae covered pond has become an ugly breeding ground for flies (and probably worse) and a catch-pot for litter. This unpleasant feature will also become the responsibility of the estate residents at some point when maintenance and repair will be a requirement. In addition to the visual features of this pond, there are health and safety risks to children that do not appear to have been

addressed. The CIRIA ‘Health and Safety Principles for SuDS’ states: Where it is considered likely that unsupervised young children could gain access to the water, then a toddler-proof fence 600-750mm high should be provided to prevent toddlers getting to the water but allow adult entry to step across when necessary. The fence must be a vertical pale type rather than horizontal rail construction which could be used as a climbing frame.

As the proposed Phase 2 of this housing estate will be well over twice the size of Phase 1, a series of these SuDS ponds are planned adjacent to what Story Homes called the ‘Blue Corridor’. On the basis of these photographs, this marketing phrase may have used the wrong choice of colour!

Chris Orr The language of planning apparatchiks!

On Wednesday 18th July, I had the dubious pleasure of attending with other concerned residents, a Cockermouth Town Council meeting, expressly to hear a presentation by Simon Sharp regarding changes to Allerdale Borough Council’s planning team, and any associated progress on the Referred Matters Application for Phase 2 of the Strawberry How development. Graeme Innes also updated the Council on behalf of the Highways Authority, regarding traffic assessment for that development.

It was with a feeling that I had strayed into a parallel universe that I realized planning apparatchiks actually speak a totally different language to those of us who dwell in the real world, and employ an entirely different form of illogical logic.

Seemingly, if Outline Planning Permission is granted on any form of flawed assumption, even if that assumption is later proven to be completely wrong – and the consequences harmful to the community concerned – then full permission must inevitably follow, regardless. I refer specifically as an example to the manifestly skewed traffic assessment originally submitted in support of the initial planning application.

It is clear even now that the traffic situation in Cockermouth is very severe at peak times, without the benefit of massive additional traffic generated by Phase 2, and yet we are told that no effective further survey at key pinch points related to the development has been undertaken. Nor will it be in the foreseeable future.

Local Plans, we heard, if conveniently classified by central government as being ‘out-of-date’ in terms of ‘settlement figures’, are not worth the paper upon which they are written. Consequently, opportunities can become available for the indiscriminate development of housing for pecuniary advantage, out of proportion to the stated needs of the community.


There is therefore no certainty that the current, or any future, Local Plan can guarantee controlled development, as we have always been led to believe.

According to Mr. Sharp the only means of having some measure of control over size, siting and suitability of any development for existing infrastructure, is to have in place an effective Neighbourhood Plan, which could assume primacy.

I have a certain sense of déjà vu on that particular issue, having attended the original town council meetings at which it was discussed, twice, and rejected as unnecessary. Twice!

It is also clear from Mr. Innes’ contribution on the subject of related traffic issues, that no real clear and effective long-term traffic strategy for a developed Cockermouth exists.

It would appear that such ad hoc measures as the introduction of yet more, probably poorly phased, traffic lights and possibly a mini-roundabout or two are supposed to address the issues. A suggestion that the considerable money set aside for these might be better spent on a full and proper traffic assessment was rejected outright.

There is also no possibility of any new slip road linking Lorton Road onto the A66 within the foreseeable future (cost!) and no possibility of any other new means of egress from Strawberry How/Grange.

We are to be treated to new legally-enforceable signage for Kirkgate and yet as we already lack the manpower to enforce existing traffic regulations and illegal, dangerous parking is rife in the town, we can expect this signage also to be ignored.

In the universe that I and the rest of Cockermouth residents inhabit, Mr. Innes and the Highway Authority should now be raising massive objections to any approval of Phase 2 prior to a proper evaluation of the real-world traffic chaos currently affecting the town. Failure to do so amounts to an obvious dereliction of their statutory duty.

We were assured that all of these problems are not the fault of any of our local authorities, but may be attributed directly to National Policy. Their hands are tied. Strange then that every response we have had, from a variety of Secretaries of State and other Ministers, has refused to get involved with such ‘local planning matters’, laying the responsibility firmly at the feet of the local authorities! Somebody is clearly stringing us along.

If National Policy is manifestly wrongly applied to a development which is disproportionate, questionably sited and poses a real threat to the very infrastructure of the town, then it is the duty of our supposed representatives to have the ‘spine’ to resist rather than capitulate!

I am not holding out any great hope that the issue will be democratically decided. Welcome to their alternative, illogical universe!

R. D. Bratton Cockermouth Charity Fashion Show

The Trustees and Members of the Cockermouth Community Hospital League of Friends would like to thank everybody who supported our recent charity Fashion Show at the Hundith Hill Hotel. It was a very enjoyable evening, and everybody had a great time. This was a unique event for the League and we raised a total of £747 with the ticket sales and the raffle. As always, the proceeds will go towards hospital funds.

The new hospital has been open for four years now and there are challenging times ahead. We look forward to the continuing support of the public in our efforts to bring the best care possible at the hospital to the people of Cockermouth and surrounding districts.

Tudor Jones The little girl in pink

On Monday 30th July at about 7.30pm I was out and about taking photographs with my camera club. Coming to Sainsbury’s I met with the delightful sight of a three-year old child running back and forth splashing in a big puddle, whilst her Dad looked on. He gave me permission to photograph her. I now have a charming photograph of her and would like to give a printed copy to the parents. Can you help me find him through your paper please? She was wearing a pink waterproof jump suit and pink wellies. She has fabulous blond curly hair and a mischievous smile. If the parents would like a copy of the photograph will they let you the editors know.

Mary Thompson ISSUE 428 | 23 AUGUST 2018 | 6

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