Public areas

Play area closed Thursday

JRHT have informed us that the central play area will be closed tomorrow: Thursday 10 June 2021, to allow equipment to be repaired.

The damaged safety surface that was reported to them has now been repaired.

Public areas

A leucistic cygnet?

Last year wasn’t good for our swans. One got tangled in fishing line (and rescued). Then they all got caught in an oil slick in the beck, which was expensive to clean up. And finally, the adult male flew into one of our smaller houses, and died.

This year, the female found herself a new mate. At that time, the three surviving cygnets left – perhaps chased away by the new male. Still, they seemed strong enough to fare well by then.

This year, we have six new cygnets. Including a very special one. She seems to be “leucistic” (pronounced “LUKE-istick”). The word is related to leucocyte: white blood cell, and leukeamia: a disease of white blood cells. Leucism is a genetic colour variation, like a mild form of albinism. Sometimes leucistic swans are called “polish”, as opposed to the normal “royal” swans.

Sadly, the colour makes leucistic swans more vulnerable to predators. But, if they do survive, females are more likely to breed earlier because they look more adult.


Internet Outage

We wrote to Pure Fibre to ask about the recent Internet outage. For me, that was four hours on Wed 26 May, and one hour on Saturday 29 May. Our questions (in bold), and their answers are below (in italic).

The short story is that the outage affected 50% of residents. We have two links to London, where we connect to the rest of the Internet. Each household is connected through one of these links and can be switched over to the other if there’s a failure. Sadly, the routers in our houses don’t always respond well to being switched over, or being switched back.

Pure Fibre says that they have fixed an issue that made it hard to identify the cause of the outage. And they’re working with the manufacturers of our routers to fix the problem with switching between circuits. Fixing that problem should make it possible to implement automatic failover, and that could make outages like this a thing of the past.

NB: the text below is an almost exact copy of their email. I’ve fixed a few typos, and added “DRA” and “PF” to identify the authors of each paragraph.

DRA (Ian Eiloart): I’m writing about the downtime yesterday, seeking some more information about it. 

  1. DRA: As far as I understand, the outage affected many residents. Would it be fair to say that about 50% of residents were affected? Do you have a more precise number?
    • PF (Mark Trojacek): We lost one of the two connections into the development and balance the number of users on each of the two lines, so 50% of residents lost their service when the line went down.
  2. DRA: From your status site, it appears that one of the uplinks to London failed due to a fibre cut. Is it reasonable to assume that this was the old route along the railway line?
    • PF: No, this was actually the newer line that went down. It was a result of a fibre break on a section of cable owned by CityFibre. We have not been provided with the precise location but have been told that it was somewhere in Yorkshire.  
  3. DRA: For this to cause outages at Derwenthorpe, it must be the case either that (a) redundant routing is in place, but failed, or (b) automatic failover is in place, but failed, or (c) that you have no automatic redundancy at all. Can you say which is the case, please?
    • PF: While we have redundant routing in place at Derwenthorpe, we have not been able to implement automatic failover. Although automatic failover is in place in our core, since deploying the second line last year, we have found that the customer premise equipment [CPE] devices have struggled to react to the change in gateway MAC address as we switch from one core router to the other. As part of necessary security over the network, we force traffic from the CPE to the learned MAC of the gateway but when this changes (even though the IP address of the gateway remains the same) we have found that many of the devices hang on to the old MAC address. 
    • While we are working on a resolution to this, we currently have to invoke a manual changeover to reboot all the CPE just prior to switching over from one core router to the other. Even with this manual re-boot we still find 10-15% of the devices need a further re-boot to re-associate with the gateway MAC. While this is not so much of an issue when the circuit goes down, it becomes more of an issue when we have to switch back to the original circuit as we have users with a working connection that suddenly goes down for a second time when the circuit is restored.
    • I believe that your device may have experienced this issue over the weekend. For our part, we have no visibility of which devices are online and which are not as they all appear to be online and so we generally field a number of calls from residents who we have advised that the issue is resolved, yet who still have lost service.  
    • We are working on a resolution of this with the manufacturer but for the moment we have to be cautious about when we switch networks over to ensure that we don’t generate more disruption than the original outage causes.
  4. DRA: Manual failover between circuits is available, but it was not employed for about four hours after you first reported the incident, and two hours after you reported that the circuit failure was identified. Why is this?
    • PF: While we were aware of a circuit failure, we were working with the provider to identify the cause. As detailed above, we did not want to switch the circuits if there was likely to be a rapid resolution. Unfortunately, there was some confusion between ourselves and the provider about circuit IDs (we still have the original 1Gbps circuit into Derwenthorpe as well as the 10Gbps bearer) and for a couple of hours, we/they were trying to identify the cause of the issue. At that point, we didn’t know that we were the victim of a fibre break and so we were performing tests in association with them to identify the cause of the outage. Once we confirmed with them the precise circuit reference a new ticket needed to be opened at which point we made the decision to cut over the line as we were concerned about further delays with the new ticket. 
    • The original circuit was not restored until the early hours of Friday morning and so we monitored it during the day to ensure that it was stable prior to switching customers back onto it in the early hours of Saturday morning.
  5. DRA: Will you be putting in place an automatic failover mechanism? If not, why not, and what procedures will you be implementing to ensure that manual failover is deployed much earlier?
    • PF: We continue to work on deploying automatic failover and it remains our intention to implement it as soon as possible. We have spare redundant lines into one of our other sites and have equipment deployed there to assist with the testing. We have cleared up the confusion over circuit IDs with the provider which, in this instance, was the main reason for the prolonged delay in making the decision to cut over onto the back up circuit. 

Petition update

A big thank you to everyone who signed our petition asking JRHT to stop using central square as a builder’s compound. We had a fantastic response, with 344 signatures from 296 households, in just seven days. All on paper, too.

We also had a good response from JRHT. We delivered it by email on Thursday 6 May, and the following day Chris Simpson – JRHT’s executive director – asked us for a meeting on the Monday to discuss the issues.

We made three main points,

(a) the compound is located in the worst possible place because it’s the most densely populated part of the site, and

(b) without a central compound, works only disturb those adjacent to the works. With a central compound all works disturb people around the compound, who never see an end to it.

(c) if central square weren’t available, some other space would be found appropriate to each set of works, perhaps on an adjacent verge for example.

JRHT promised to review their works program, to try to reduce the use of the compound in three ways: (a) to reduce the size of the compound, (b) to use it for less disturbing purposes, and (c) to use it for less time.

We think it should only be used for works adjacent to the compound: such as levelling the roads outside Barron House and Newman House. The compound should certainly not be used for works outside of Seebohm Quarter, and not where there’s a suitable, more local alternative.

Phase 5 construction.

The good news is that Evans Homes have agreed that they don’t need to use the compound, so it won’t be used to assist with the development of phase 5. We’re very happy about that.

Stephenson quarter roads.

We’re still waiting to hear about these works. The bad news here is that the works on phase 1 are expected to take nine months. And we don’t like the plans, which we have not been consulted on.

We’re particularly unhappy about changes to the road surface, and the proposed removal of granite cobbles and kerbs.

We continue to argue that construction traffic should not be crossing the cycle path, and that materials should be stored adjacent to the works. That will reduce movements of materials and vehicles, and we’ve not heard convincing arguments that there are any benefits for anybody except DWH.

Seebohm quarter roads.

We accept that the using the compound to help fix the roads around the flats makes sense. Any other solution would probably be more disruptive even to residents of Barron House and Newman House.

Off-site works.

We’re against the use of the Central Square compound for off site works. This includes the resurfacing of Fifth Avenue, upgrade of the private part of Fifth Avenue, and works on the junctions at Fifth Avenue/Tang Hall Lane, and Meadlands/Bad Bargain Lane.

We don’t yet know what is proposed for these works, but want to make our position clear. We also don’t know of any other proposed off site works related to Derwenthorpe.

Future works.

We also think that Central Square should not be considered at all for works that are not yet planned, except where those works are immediately adjacent to Central Square.


We accept that there are works required to finish the estate, including phase 5, and that those works will cause some disturbance. However our guiding principles in this are: (a) except where strictly unavoidable, works should not disturb people that will not benefit from those works, and (b) we believe the road construction works are required because DWH failed to get them right first time, so we don’t think that their convenience or costs should be taken as material considerations when selecting locations for storage materials.

We do believe that JRHT are working hard to find better solutions. We know that they want to, and trust that these will be forthcoming.

NB: edited 5 June 2021 to correct Chris Simpson’s title. He’s not CEO, he’s chief executive.

Development DGG DPAC

DPAC/DGG – meeting papers

Derwenthorpe Partnership Advisory Committee and Derwenthorpe Governing Group meet on Wednesday 19th May.

Join Zoom Meeting

DPAC – 18:30 – 19:30

DGG – 19:45 – 20:45

Among other things, we’ll be discussing Central Square, grants, landscaping, and heating charges.

You can find the full agendas, and papers, at

All residents are welcome to attend. You’ll find a Zoom link at on the day. Please switch your camera on, and change your Zoom name as you’d like it to appear in the minutes.



JRHT say the KidsZone play park will be closed all day, Wednesday 12 May, to allow some repairs to be made. This includes a repair to the soft safety surface near the swings.

abc:derwenthorpe CoreTeam Development DGG DPAC

Petition update

Last Thursday, we submitted our petition on Central Square to JRHT. On Friday, they asked us for a meeting, which we held yesterday (Monday), including representatives from the DRA core team, DGG, ABC:D, and DPAC: 

We discussed two things:

1. Central Square. We want them to stop using Central Square as a builders compound. This is perhaps the most densely populated area of the estate. JRHT had discussed some ideas around this and had some helpful proposals. We discussed their ideas and some of our own. JRHT are going to investigate some details of the options that were discussed. We hope to see some firmer proposals in the next couple of weeks and to have some better news – particularly for residents of Barron House and Newman House.

2. An earlier paper that we’d submitted about communications. JRHT were keen to get on with all the things that we’d specifically asked for in that paper, including the resumption of development liaison meetings that had been suspended during lockdown. These are liaison meetings between the DRA core team, JRHT, and the builders – to track issues with the build. In the past, we’ve used them to get things like sagging porches sorted across the estate, and MVHR reinstalled across Stephenson Quarter (phase 1), for example. We’re also looking forward to a more regular JRHT presence on the estate, and to regular JRHT reports in LotsOn.

Some details still need to be discussed, but we’re hoping these things will start this month. 

abc:derwenthorpe Development surveys

Central Square petition

Thank you, to everyone who worked so hard to gather signatures for our petition last week, and to everyone who signed it. We knocked on virtually every door on the estate, and got 344 signatures from 296 different addresses.

We’ve written a paper to JRHT, including views from several residents of Barron House and Newman House. And we were shown one photo so shocking, we had to include that in the report (and above), too.

We’ll be having a meeting with JRHT about this very soon. We’re asking them to think again, and keep construction and logistics on the building site, not in this residential area.

We also want them to put something nice on Central Square, but that can’t happen until we have a plan, so while we know what everyone DOESN’T want there, we also need to know what people DO want! We’ve heard some views.

Someone asked for a swimming pool with water chutes, which seems unlikely. But please, have a think about what you’d like here, and get your ideas in at or in the comments here.

If you’re having a hard time thinking beyond the builders’ yard shown here, maybe share some photos of public spaces that you do like. A favourite park, perhaps.


Spring clean

Join the Community Litter Pick, Tuesday June 1 2021 at 10am, at the Energy Centre. Everyone welcome, including accompanied children. Equipment provided, but please wear gloves.

Contact for more information.


Low-carbon living?

Low-carbon living by 2050?

A Zoom meeting for residents, with Former Chief Executive of the Derwenthorpe Architect Richard Partington, and Mich Swainson of the Building Research Establishment.

Thursday 27thMay @ 3:00pm

Join Zoom Meeting (doors open 15 minutes early)

Meeting ID: 973 0046 7775
Passcode: 917316

Most residents bought into Derwenthorpe on the understanding that it is an environmentally advanced estate. 

Now that phases 1 to 4 have been completed, it is time to take stock of what has been achieved and identify what we can do for the future. 

This Zoom meeting is the first of a series on environmental matters. We start with two major subjects: our  houses and the provision of heat (Future meetings will cover other key subjects including transport, community, food, etcetera).

In all cases the question is:

‘How could Derwenthorpe be upgraded to deliver low-carbon living by 2050?

The Vision

Lord Best, former chief executive of JRHT, and current president of the Sustainable Energy Association will describe how the vision was conceived and nurtured to become a model estate for the future.

The Architect’s View 

Richard Partington, from Partington Studios, the visionary architect for Derwenthorpe, will explain the vision, the reality and the potential for meeting the requirements of a future world.

The Engineer’s View

Mich Swainson, Principal Engineer of the Building Research Establishment, will explain the government’s policies on heating and conservation and identify practical improvements for the future.

Panel discussion. Exploring opportunities for change