Battering rams and bicycles

News from Greystoke – on the outskirts of the Lake District National Park, about 26 miles from Cockermouth by the A66 – where seventeenth-century stone cottages cluster around an old-fashioned village green and the parish church of St Andrew’s dates back to the thirteenth century. The village is also home to Greystoke Castle, built by Baron Greystoke in the sixteenth century.

This week, Eden councillors ruled that an application from Story Homes to build 45 houses on land to the east of the village failed to ‘respect the character of the village’, and refused to grant planning permission.

According to The Cumberland News, the developer had claimed that the scheme would ‘positively enhance the locality and make an important contribution to the growth and well-being of the local community’. The local community thought otherwise.

Eden councillors felt that the development, ‘by virtue of its excessive scale and poor siting on an elevated and prominent site, represents a significant intrusion into the open countryside… which fails to respect the character of the village.’ They also noted that the application failed ‘to protect the open countryside from inappropriate development’.

I suspect the developer will already, as I write, be planning its next storming of the Greystoke ramparts (it’s what they do) but good on you Eden for standing strong. Long may you remain so.

It’s a sign…

Meanwhile… the chaos continues on Strawberry How. It was the beginning of May when the first ‘Road Closed’ sign appeared. Okay, perhaps we should expect a bit of disruption as the wagons rattle up and down this ‘quiet’ country lane. But closed? And for 26 weeks? A few heated telephone calls revealed that Story Homes had placed the sign there (the number to call was the company number) and questions were asked. Had it been authorised? Or widely advertised? And why would you close a road and footpath which is a regular thoroughfare for local and tourist traffic and part of the Coast to Coast cycle route (linking Cockermouth to Greystoke, funnily enough)?

And what about the otters – the presence of which, at this stage, an ecologist was legally bound to investigate further? Could work begin until a new ecological assessment had been carried out?

Within a couple of hours, an orange high-vis appeared in a flat-back and removed the signage, but we knew they’d be back because he left the sandbags. And, sure enough, he was. With a new sign. Road no longer to be closed, and the start date for work delayed by ten days. Thanks to the otters.

Signage spam © Hackette on the How.

Yesterday morning, a whole heap more signage appeared on site, including a set of traffic lights which appeared innocuous enough unless you happened to be a resident of a property by the nursery (in front of whose exit road they were sited) trying to exit that road to the left while traffic was halted – whilst also taking into account the cars which regularly park along the road in front of the nursery, or the way drivers will inevitably position their cars at a temporary traffic lights.

It was still in position this morning but, as I return home at 3.00pm, from a few hours out of the area, I see the road is once again clear. But then it is a Friday afternoon, prior to a May Bank Holiday weekend. I can’t help thinking this is just a temporary reprieve.

Now that’s what I call a ‘pollard’!

Speaking of battering rams (see ‘storming of the ramparts’), readers of my Random Ruminations earlier this month might recall my thoughts on the holiday haircuts visited upon those poor trees of Main Street. Happily, they look a good deal prettier now they’re in leaf. But what did this poor tree do to find itself singled out so cruelly?

Tree re-imagined as battering ram © Hackette on the How.

This is ‘extreme pollarding’ at its furthest point, but at least it draws attention to the ‘Jennings Rivers Ride’ – although why the banner has ‘river’ in the singular when the Cumbria Community Foundation makes it plural is anyone’s guess. But don’t get me started on orthography, we’ll be here all day (cue, if ever there was one for all and sundry to pick holes in my own text! And there will be many.)

Where was I? Oh yes. This annual charity cycle ride, I learn, is so-called because sections of the ride routes ‘follow the affected river courses and criss-cross over many of the bridges that were either destroyed and replaced, or were badly damaged during the floods in 2009 and 2015’.

I’m not a cyclist myself but it sounds like something that should appeal to everyone, from families to seasoned lycra-buffs and anything that keeps on reminding people that Cockermouth floods from time to time can only be a good thing.

So maybe, in this instance, ‘tree re-imagined as battering ram’ isn’t so bad.

Fatty waste and wet wipes

These are to blame apparently for the raw sewage that spewed out onto Gote Bridge on Wednesday, an item which hit the news in the evening, just as climbing gremlin was driving home looking forward to his share of a Coffee Kitchen cake.

It took a good deal of high pressure water to unblock the massive fat blockage. People flush or pour away ‘the wrong things’ into the drains, causing the pipes to clog up, just like clogged arteries, said United Utilities.

As one who genuinely tips the hot, fatty outpourings from the Sunday roasting tin into a separate pot to cool (just like my mother taught me), before chucking it away or re-using (dripping chips anyone?), I think they have a point. But I did think it a little unfair to lay ALL the blame on our shoulders and none at all on the after-effects of two floods in quick succession or the amount of new development taking place. I seem to recall Main Street being dug up again just weeks after the resurfacing and extensive work which followed the 2009 floods, when a sewer collapsed. Or is the whole system fixed now?

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