More answers to your frequently asked questions
Your most recent questions regarding the proposal for Farnley Country Park are answered here.
This page will be updated regularly with new questions and answers.
Wednesday 15 September 2015
Why are the maps on the website so vague?
We've used stylised maps for a number of reasons. The main reason is that we wanted people to be able to see, at-a-glance, the scale of our vision, and how it could link in with existing roads, railways and footpaths.
And, as Farnley Country Park is still a vision at this moment in time, we're unable to add detail. We don't know which areas, if any, will be accepted for housing. We don't know which landowners will want to join with us. We don't know which areas will be given permission for activities. And until we know the scale of the Park, we don't know the exact route of the circuit.
We hope that over the coming months we'll be able to crystalise this vision into a more detailed map that will provide the blueprint for Farnley Country Park.
Tuesday 25 August 2015
If these footpaths already exist, why do we need a Country Park?
It is true that many of the footpaths already exist, and provide an excellent start for the proposed circular route. There are places, however, where these footpaths do not link up and additional paths will be required. Some of the paths are also in a better state of repair than others.
The overall vision is to create an outer circuit with additional footpath access to various activities around the Park. Ideally within the Park there will be areas dedicated to particular activities such as extreme cycling.
Creating a Country Park that utilises and develops the existing public footpath network offers a variety of financial and practical benefits:
- The paths can be linked to provide a true circular walk.
- Additional, permissive routes can be added to enhance the current offer.
- The paths can be enhanced to allow multi-use (walkers, cyclists, riders etc) as well as access for prams, wheelchairs and other special requirements.
- The paths could be maintained by the Country Park, taking the financial burden away from Kirklees MC for maintaining these public footpaths.
- Using existing paths is a more efficient use of funds.
Tuesday 14 July 2015
Farnley Country Park has been likened to Tatton Park and is expecting to attract 800,000 visitors per year.
In the past we've used the analogy of 'a cross between Dalby Forest and Tatton Park' as a shorthand to try to give people a better understanding of what we're trying to achieve. Tatton Park because it provides family friendly facilities, outdoor activities and educational opportunities; Dalby Forest because it offers outdoor cycling and walking opportunities and is basically a 'park without walls'.
It does not mean that we anticipate achieving the same visitor numbers as these well-established attractions. However, in locations where tourist attractions have become financially successful for the local council, infrastructure to cope with increased visitor numbers has soon followed, as is the case at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
The proposed country park will be paid for by selling £150m worth of our green belt land.
When we initially spoke to Kirklees Council about the idea for a Country Park, back in 2012, the idea was to invest £50m each and raise £50m through match-funding and grants.
Due to government cutbacks, however, we know that Kirklees Council is no longer in a position to invest in Farnley Country Park. It means that the original vision of a £150m country park is unlikely. We are, however, looking at this as a 25-year plan, that will be developed through re-investment and potential grants.
We are still investigating the option of match-funding but we still need to raise initial capital – somewhere in the region of the original £50m - through the sale of land for housing. However, this has always been on the understanding that Kirklees Council (as it has stated) will need to release green belt land for housing.
Our stance is: if the Council needs to release green belt land for housing then let's get a country park out of it that benefits Huddersfield people. If not, then we accept that the proposal can't go ahead.
Wednesday 10 June 2015
Are you looking at other forms of funding, other than housing?
We're currently investigating options for funding, some of which appear to be promising. However, the options we've discovered so far are all based on match funding. This means that we still need to raise a significant amount of capital to benefit.
Will dogs be allowed in Farnley Country Park?
Dogs will be allowed in the open areas of the Country Park, however, as with any public space it will be the owner's responsibility to keep them under control and to clean up after them. For safety, however, it may be that there will be restrictions on dogs in certain areas. For example, it would be unwise to allow dogs around extreme cycling tracks.
Tuesday 2 June 2015
How do we know that you won't take the money and run, leaving us with no Country Park?
We've specifically asked Kirklees to consider ring-fencing funds from land sales to the Park. If our land is accepted, this means that there will be specific, contractual provisions between the Estate and Kirklees Council that will deal with the scale and application of the funds.
Will a Country Park mean that, in effect, we’ll have to pay to walk on public footpaths?
There will be no charge for entering Farnley Country Park or using the proposed walking, riding, cycling track. One of the founding values of Farnley Country Park is to create a green open space to benefit the people of Huddersfield and beyond. We want more people to have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful part of the countryside. In that sense, the vision is based upon opening up the land, not fencing it off. We will, however, need to preserve and protect flora and fauna at certain times of the year, and have areas of land set aside for farming activities to continue safely.
It’s true that some country parks charge an entry fee, which is usually used for the upkeep of the park. We’ve avoided this by planning a sinking fund (see previous FAQ) that will be used for the ongoing maintenance and development of Farnley Country Park. As you’d expect, however, commercial activities, such as bike hire and aerial adventures will incur a market cost.
We already have access to these footpaths – why do we need a country park?
It’s true that much of the 17-mile circuit we’re proposing includes existing public footpaths, however the state of these paths and ease of access varies considerably. With the Council facing increasing financial pressure, it could be that funding for the upkeep of public footpaths decreases further. In addition, these footpaths are not always accessible for everyone, and few can be used by people on bikes or in wheelchairs.
By including these paths in Farnley Country Park, we can make sure that they are multi-use, and provide access for all. Rather than losing public footpaths, this is a way of making sure that we have high quality, public access to the countryside.
There’s also more to a Country Park than just footpaths. As a result of the land being farmed for the past 500 years, Farnley Estates is mostly private land and not open to the public. We want to change this so that more people have access to even more of this stunning land. Also, we want to give people a reason to come and stay at Farnley Country Park, so that they explore the wider region. We want to attract tourism to the area that will provide economic benefit to Huddersfield and the people who live here.
South Kirklees always gets the investment. What about people in North Kirklees?
While we can’t change the geographical location of Farnley Country Park, we want it to be somewhere that everyone in the local area and beyond can visit. We’ve spoken with public transport operators and there are good links by train to the area. In the future, we also see an opportunity to investigate linking Farnley Country Park with Huddersfield town centre and North Kirklees through cycle paths.
Tuesday 26 May 2015
Why can't you leave this tranquil part of the country as it is?
Maintaining this vast area of land in good condition takes a great deal of time and money. Despite popular belief, woodlands and grasslands need to be managed to keep them healthy and attractive to wildlife. Leaving the land alone is not an option.
In the past, revenue from farming has paid for the up-keep of the land, but we can't rely on this in the future, due to the decline in farming. As we explain in another question, today there are only 3 farms on the Estate, including the home farm, (sadly, one of our farmers died earlier this year). We need to take a long term approach, and our 25-year plan will make sure that the land is environmentally and financially sustainable in the future.
Friday 22 May 2015
The housing issue update
Our aim is to be open as possible about how the Park will be paid for, and the compromise regarding car parking and facilities that will be required to enable people to use the land in a sustainable way.
We recognise that, understandably, this is one of the key issues for many people. For this reason, we’ve taken further advice on how much we can say without prejudicing the process that Kirklees Council is required to go through.
As a result, below is a more comprehensive answer to the questions we’ve received about housing.
We need to start by saying that the location and number of any new homes is essentially a planning matter, which will be determined by Kirklees Council in its new Local Plan.
It has, however, already been reported in the Huddersfield Examiner that inevitably there will be housing on green belt land.
What we're saying is, if this will happen anyway, lets get a country park out of it.
But there is a process to go through.
As a landowner within Kirklees, we know this is a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We can provide some land for new homes, that will go some way towards meeting the need for new housing, but will also deliver a huge new country park that will secure the future of the local countryside and create new employment and recreational opportunities for local people.
We have therefore suggested to the Council that some of our land could be allocated for new housing development in the new Local Plan, the proceeds of which would then help to fund the park’s required new infrastructure.
Most of our land and all of the area of the proposed country park is currently defined as green belt, where development is restricted.
We expect that the new Local Plan will retain the vast majority of the country park area as green belt, but the new Local Plan will be considering whether there is a need for redrawing of the green belt boundaries on the edge of existing settlements to allow for some new development. These boundaries were set some 35-40 years ago in a different economy and when there was less development pressure. The new Local Plan will be looking ahead to the next 15 years to assess whether there is a need to release some land from the green belt to meet current and future development needs, in particular for new homes, of which there is a real shortage.
The land that we have put forward for consideration for development is principally along Penistone Road and on the edge of existing built up areas with good transport links and access to existing schools, shops and other facilities.
We have deliberately excluded any land that the current Local Plan identifies as being of ‘high landscape value’, as we want to maintain and improve the special character and environment of the countryside.
The Council is now considering whether this and other land across Kirklees could be suitable for housing development and what if any new or improved facilities would be needed to support the new communities that may eventually live there, such as public transport, schools, shops and medical centres.
At this stage, we do not know the likely scale of new housing numbers, as this will depend on how many new homes are required by Kirklees and where else in the district they might be located.
However, clearly, the more new homes that are allowed on the edge of the country park, the more money there will be to fund the Park and secure the future of the countryside to the wider benefit of Kirklees.
The country park is a unique opportunity for Kirklees to meet some of its housing needs in a sustainable location on the edge of existing settlements, with the major benefit of creating a fantastic new country park that will secure the future of the countryside and create new employment and recreational opportunities for the people of Kirklees.
Monday 18 May 2015
Since we launched our proposal for Farnley Country Park we've been overwhelmed with the response we've had from local people. A number of questions have also been asked that we feel aren't fully covered by the question and answers on our existing FAQ page.
Understandably, many of the questions have concerned the proposed housing and we'll aim to address as many of your concerns as we possibly can.
Why won't you tell us where the houses will be built?
In short, we can't at this moment in time. This is because we can't prejudice the process that Kirklees Council is currently working on.
However, everyone, including Farnley Estates, will discover the land that Kirklees Council is considering for potential housing allocation when the SHLAA or Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment is made public. This is expected to be published in June.
Even at this stage it doesn't mean that this land will definitely result in housing, there are far more processes and consultations to go through before that stage is reached.
So why did you mention housing - do you have something to hide?
Just the opposite. We need to know if there is an appetite for a Country Park in Huddersfield. Following our feasibility study, we also know that we need to fund its creation and ongoing maintenance through releasing some land for housing. Although we can't be more specific about where this housing will be at this moment in time, for the reasons outlined above, we wanted people to be aware before they vote that this is a consideration.
During our consultation process, we were extremely encouraged by the response to our proposal from everyone we spoke with. But we still have to be absolutely sure that this view is shared by the people of Huddersfield. We need to know now, before we go any further, if it’s not something that people really want.