Obituary: Cindy Huxley

Date published: 03 April 2024

Local campaigner Cindy Huxley has passed away at the age of 65 after a long fight with cancer.

Cindy Huxley was the secretary of the Castleton EC Residents Association who fought to prevent Cowm Top in Castleton from industrial development twenty seven years ago.

Prior to 1997 Cowm Top was in a green belt corridor which lead from Tandle Hills to Gorrels Farm on Queensway. The land was green open space and was enjoyed for recreational use by local residents, in summer climbing to its top to enjoy the panoramic views and in winter sledging down its snow covered slopes.

A planning application for three large warehouses was submitted with the largest to be positioned on the very top of the hill overlooking the whole of the village. The council had changed the status of the land unbeknown to most people in the new Unitary Development Plan UDP. This infuriated the local residents and at a public meeting they decided to form an action group, the Castleton EC Residents Association.

With Cindy at the front they fought the proposed development on the grounds of inappropriate development on a green open space, and also objected to Cowm Top being included in the UDP allocations. The planning committee agreed with the residents and rejected the application only for their decision to be overturned by the Planning Inspectorate. They also failed to convince an UDP inspector that the land should be removed from the plan.

The last chance the residents had to save the land was to register it as a village green. The residents had enough evidence to show the land had been used by local people for sports and recreation for at least 20 years and successfully applied to the council for Village Green status. This gave protection to the land and prevented the proposed development to proceed.

The landowner and the developer objected to the council registering Cowm Top and served court papers on the council and on Cindy herself because as the secretary of the Castleton EC Residents association had signed the Village Green application forms. The council decided not defend the registration but Cindy and the committee of the Residents Association decided to carry on the fight. This now was a High Court battle between Cindy and the developers. Two days had been allocated by the courts for the hearing. The actual hearing lasted two weeks with over twenty local residents giving evidence all being cross-examined by a QC for the developers.

The judge deliberated and gave his verdict overturning the registration and awarded costs of £350,000 against Cindy.

With the help of the late Jim Dobbin the local MP, a deal was brokered with the developer and land owner that if the residents raised £25,000 for a local charity over the next five years, they would not pursue Cindy’s eye-watering costs. This was achieved with the support of the people of Castleton and Cartwheel Arts in Heywood were the beneficiaries.

Cindy's name will forever be remembered in Castleton she was a fighter and greenbelt warrior and a lovely family person and will be sadly missed by many.

Cindy's funeral will be held at St Martin's Parish Church in Castleton on Thursday 4 April at 1.30pm and all are welcome to come and celebrate her life.

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