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Convent plans will enhance the town
8:00am Saturday 28th July 2012 in Readers' Letters
Sir - I write in response to the letter of V Ostojic, of Castle View Terrace, regarding the criticism of the proposed redevelopment of the St Monica’s Convent and old St Monica’s school buildings.
Firstly the St Monica’s Convent is not being demolished as it is a listed building. This part of the site is being redeveloped in accordance with its listed status. The buildings that are being demolished are the old school part of the convent.
As a parishioner of St Stephen’s I have seen the proposed developments, that I know were prepared after very careful thought and consideration to the adjacent properties and also the site as a whole. In any development it’s a recognised fact that you can’t please everybody.
As V Ostojic’s remarks are far reaching about practically every aspect of the proposed site, it is pretty obvious it will be hard to convince the person of my own feelings of the development’s worth and that I feel it will also enhance the area around Castle View Terrace.
What I will comment on is V Ostojic’s comments regarding the loss of a number of trees and the destruction of a haven for wildlife. A few years ago I was asked as a parishioner to go to the rear of the convent school buildings because somebody had set fire to one of the old outbuildings. The fire brigade had responded and put the fire out, and I was asked to make the building secure.
What I found inside the building was that the building was being used not only for drug and solvent abuse with used syringes and needles littering the floor, but also there were beer cans and bottles, and even used condoms strewn around the floor.
I secured the building but about a month later I had to go back to the rear of the building to board up the windows on the ground floor that had been systematically smashed by beer bottles and stones.
This boarding can be seen on the Craven Herald photograph. I also found that the building I had secured previously had been broken into yet again and appeared to be once again back in its previous use. Also in this haven of wildlife, there has been fly-tipping of general junk - and even asbestos waste has been dumped - and constant wanton vandalism and the complete destruction of a shrine to the Virgin Mary.
V Ostojic says the redevelopment is short-sighted. The alternative is the continued systematic trashing of this once- proud building that has got worse as time goes by, with the surrounding area becoming a waste land. This is not the story I would like to tell to future generations about our stewardship of cultural development in Skipton .
If V Ostojic thinks I am exaggerating I suggest taking a stroll around the grounds over the wall from Castle View. But be very careful where you step.
Robert C Chapman, Lytham Gardens, Skipton
Sir - We are writing in favour of the proposed development of the buildings behind St Stephen’s Church. The Convent building is to remain: the derelict buildings of St Monica’s School are to be replaced.
We are replacing a derelict and potentially dangerous building which is already attracting vandalism with one which will be an asset to the community.
As anyone who has applied to obtain a place on the council housing list will know, there is little or no opportunity to find assisted living accommodation in Skipton.
We believe that the proposed development will address this issue in a sensitive and thoughtful way.
Sally Hamp, Florence Begley, Mary McMahon, Hazel Hornsby and Tracey Bentley, A group of St Stephen’s parishioners
Sir - Recently I read an item in your paper about St Monica’s convent with interest.
I have lived on Castle View - Primrose Hill for 60 years and do not know the person V Ostojic who wrote the item.
Along with my parents I will be one of the few who remember when St Monica’s was a girls’ school for day pupils and boarders.
Over the years since it closed as a school the building has deteriorated. As it stands at the moment the wall of the building facing Castle View is bowing and will eventually come crashing down on Castle View.
Before now we have had masonry come crashing down on Castle View.
According to the current plans, the St Monica’s Convent part where the nuns lived is to be restored not demolished as stated by V Ostojic, while the school parts are demolished and new accommodation built further back from Castle View.
These buildings will be considerably lower in height than the existing buildings. So the statement that it will be seen from the castle is a load of rubbish.
Hopefully the creation of parking spaces for the new accommodation will alleviate some of the parking problems we in this area of town suffer. The moving back of the buildings will make it considerably lighter for those living on Castle View.
I suggest you send one of your reporters to check on the state of the buildings. They will discover that most of them are in a poor state of repair.
For those living on Castle View or the top part of Primrose Hill the development will finally solve the problem of St Monica’s and we look forward to the day it happens.
Robert William Parish, Primrose Hill, Skipton
Sir - I am sorry to tell your readers that Skipton and Craven Lions Club has ceased to operate for the time being.
The club has helped the Craven area community for the last 48 years but our few remaining members are all pensioners – their average age is 76 – and their health and physical abilities are no longer up to the demands of the club’s fund raising activities.
The requests we receive for financial assistance have continued to increase in both number and value but we need a younger generation of members to carry on with our work and regrettably these have not been forthcoming.
The decision to cease operating was not easy, particularly as the last few years have been the most successful in the club’s history.
Since 2010, the club has provided £30,000 towards a variety of projects in Craven and Yorkshire. We have helped the disabled and the disadvantaged, children and young people, injured servicemen as well as the elderly in our society.
We could not have done this without the support of the community of Skipton and Craven and from visitors to the area. You have been most generous and we are most grateful. Thank you all very much indeed.
We trust that the cessation of the club’s operations may only be temporary. The other Lions Clubs in Yorkshire plan to re-launch Skipton and Craven Lions Club with a membership campaign this autumn. Details of this will be in the local press, on TV, radio and on the Lions website: lions105c.org.uk
Derek J Evans, Hetton
Sir - I wish to reply to last week’s letter from Professor Glyn Turton supporting the wind farm at Brightenber Hill.
The professor believes three turbines are proportionate to the environmental impact and visual amenity. The precedence for more than three turbines at Brightenber Hill is real. The developer has privately admitted it’s not financially viable to build only three turbines.
The same developer has signed an exclusivity agreement with the owner of adjacent land which could bring the number of turbines up to ten or more. Another landowner has told his neighbours he will offer more land to the developer. This will not be proportionate.
The professor talks of the “parochial outlook of opponents”. This is rather dismissive of people’s real concerns.
In their submission to Craven District Council (CDC), the developer lists 23 homes within two kilometres (just over a mile) of the wind farm that will suffer significant impacts. Seven of these homes will have to endure the highest maximum impact rating of “substantial magnitude of change and major/significant visual impact.”
To give you some idea of what that means, during the developer’s previous appeal, the planning inspector identified two farms that would suffer this same serious level of impact. He stated the turbines would “blight the lives of the residents for a generation”. On this point, he dismissed the appeal outright.
In this new application, and by the developer’s own admission, seven families will suffer the same highest maximum rate of impact on their lives for the next 25 years. The lives of these families will be dominated by 100 metres high, industrial turbines sitting at the bottom of their gardens.
To protect residents in these situations, North Yorkshire County Council is working on planning guidelines that will see a two kilometres separation distance between industrial-scale turbines and people’s homes. Unfortunately, these guidelines will not be ready in time to protect these seven families.
The professor feels the benefit of wind energy also outweighs the negative impacts on the landscape. With respect Sir, the Government disagrees.
In April last year the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a technical study by the AECOM Consultancy on low carbon and renewable energy capacity in North Yorkshire and the Humber Region. The study aimed to find the best way different districts could reduce carbon emissions and contribute to renewable energy production. The study covered many different types of renewable energy.
However, with specific reference to wind energy, the study concluded that Brightenber Hill is located in a landscape classified as “highly sensitive” to wind energy development. It reports: “Wind farms in highly sensitive areas are not economically viable” and concludes: “There should be zero deployment of wind turbines in areas with high landscape sensitivity”.
The findings of this study were agreed in consultation with wind farm developers, district councils and Government.
So I ask, is this the right location for this type of renewable energy? CDC has said no, the Planning Inspectorate has said no and the Government has said no.
Stephanie Emmett, Bank Newton.
Sir - Our heartfelt thanks are surely due to Councillor Knowles-Fitton for reminding us in your issue of July 19 of how spectacularly wrong the vast majority of Craven District Councillors were in deciding that the proposed 9 High Street Development did not improve the vitality and viability of Skipton with no harm to existing shops and heritage assets. In the face of such monumental misinterpretation of the situation, how can we ever vote for any one of them again?
But perhaps it might be claimed in their defence that it is not they but the Inspector who overturned their planning decision who has got it wrong.
Is it not within the bounds of possibility that an unelected stranger who had been expected to get a feel for Skipton on one brief visit might have been the one to misinterpret the position on the ground? Why should we give his decision any more credibility than that reached by an overwhelming majority of councillors elected by us to take care of public assets and who have a wealth of local knowledge and experience to enable them to do so?
I might not approve of every action it takes, but it is my council and I resent the fact that big business with the aid of central government can ride roughshod over it. Planning by central diktat can only result in uniformity and Craven Council can justifiably claim that Skipton High Street has, up to now, escaped that label.
It has attained for itself a place in the nation’s list of favourite high streets, a position that owes nothing to uniformity, but are we to see this disappear under the onslaught of such centrally inspired planning decisions as that for 9 High Street and that which overturned the eminently sensible arrangements for overseeing coffee shops in the High Street.
John Weatherill Flasby.
Sir - I would like to congratulate everyone at Aireville School involved in the production of “Mr Tunstill’s Men”.
The audience had been invited as mourners at the funeral of a soldier from the Great War. We were straightaway transported to 1914 and given the identity of a real person from that time. We found ourselves mingling and interacting with the characters, played in eerily convincing fashion by school staff, and made to feel part of the story as it unfolded.
I found the scenes in the cemetery particularly moving, bringing home to us the devastating effects of war.
The whole production was very well conceived and the staff and pupils pulled it off magnificently. Well done Aireville and thank you for an evocative and memorable evening.
Margaret Horsman, Romille Street, Skipton
Sir - I note with interest the item of news about the sale of Settle High Reservoir (July 12). I should declare my interest as it was planned, and its construction overseen, by my grandfather (Thomas Armitstead Foxcroft) in his capacity as surveyor to Settle Rural District Council.
The reservoir, located within the national park, has served the town well from its opening in 1905/1906 to its decommissioning in the mid-1990s, followed by its draining in 2009 – a matter for local concern (Craven Herald, January 21, 2010).
It had a capacity of 3,000,000 gallons, and was planned to serve the area for 120 days without rain. Like all the local townships, the water supply was designed on green principles - collect uncontaminated water from high level streams and distribute it by gravity - in contrast to the energy used to distribute our present supplies. I believe it was adapted to avoid water shortages in Settle during the drought of 1996. Its original cost was some £3,700.
A further point to note is that its construction also conformed to present-day planning principles. Most people are unaware of its site, as it is enclosed in a copse of trees the remainder of a planting of some 4,500 mixed saplings costing under £8 total.
I intend that the documentation relating to the project, including some glass slides of its construction and together with a meticulous diary kept by the clerk of works, is lodged in the future with the Folly and Museum of North Craven Life.
It is my hope that whatever use it is put to pays homage to its history and the part it has played in the public health of the area.
T H Foxcroft, Bankwell Close, Giggleswick
Sir - I would like to commend Sutton’s parish councillors and the numerous volunteers who made the Sutton Park Centenary such a memorable occasion. In particular, the parish council clerk, Denise Emmott, deserves additional praise for her tireless efforts and the hours she devoted to organising it.
The weather was good and this truly community event was thoroughly enjoyed by all age groups who flocked to the park, myself and family included.
Well done to all involved!
Philip Barrett, South Craven County Councillor, Beanlands Drive, Glusburn
Sir - I have followed with interest your coverage of the Fake Festival due to take place this weekend. I hope it is a resounding success.
I also hope that next year you are not reporting on fake policing. Do any of your readers who have experienced wheel clampers wish to see any more police functions given to the private sector?
In light of the problems surrounding Olympic security and the cuts impacting on police forces and partner agencies where do Julian Smith MP, Julia Mulligan, the local Police & Crime Commissioner candidate, Alan Perrow (CRAG) and your readers stand on police privatisation?
Mark Botham JBB chairman, Police Station, Knaresborough.
Hip, hip, hooray!
Sir - The Government legislation relating to the new early-years foundation stage is the best thing that’s happened for children for many years. We are now required to do what we have wanted to do for a long time.
At Embsay Children’s Centre we know that pre-school education is enormously important for young children, now the research has shown it! Good quality pre-school education can even protect children from poor secondary school education and the Government has recognised what good pre-school education looks like!
An Ofsted inspector said: “Pre-school education has been turned on its head”
Hip, Hip, Hooray!
Caroline Midgley, Headteacher, Embsay Children’s Centre.
Sir - In these electronic times your readers might be interested in my fruitless search for train information from Skipton station on July 12.
As I had to travel from Skipton to Leeds for an important meeting, I was concerned when a friend informed me there were delays on the Skipton-Leeds line.
I needed more information about any delay so I looked at Skipton Station webpage which gave me a phone number. I duly rang this 0845 number which, in fact, connected me to Trainline. I was told there was no such delay. When I assured them there was they did more checking and said there were definitely no delays... this continued for a while!
I gave up but asked where the call centre was - you guessed it - India! I did hear later that the delays were apparently caused by a failure of an overhead power line. Needless to say, I did not travel by train! I fail to see the usefulness of a station website if it does not give up to date, current information!
Pat Watts Grange Estate, Ilkley.