Later messages - from 14th June
From Dave M
Well done Antony Rae for informing us so clearly regarding the alternatives to the mult-storey monstrosity proposed by Messrs Bintliff and Fletcher. It is my understanding that this proposed multistorey car park could now be an underground car park with multistorey blocks of apartments and shopping "malls".
I also understand that the building work will take upto four years resulting in the loss of at least 55 parking spaces, with Commercial Street closed or with restricted access. This development will mean the loss of the grass verge on Commercial Street together with the cutting down of at least nine protected trees in a Conservation area.
The proposed buildings will not only dominate the immediate area but the whole of the centre of Hebden Bridge. In my opinion the provision of a multi-storey car park only on this site is not financially viable and that is why the developers are desperate to build more apartments and shopping units to generate revenue.
I also understand that this Development Company have not purchased this land from the Council. Why not? We need to stop this headlong dash to building a Salford Quays/ Docklands in the heart of Hebden Bridge.
Lets get behind Anthony and push for sensible alternatives to this hairbrain scheme. Alternatives that will in fact generate more parking spaces, mean less disruption to the environment and will be inline with current thinking about cars entering town centres.
From Lynne T
Dave, Are you saying that a public asset is being given freely to a development company?
From Charlie O
I agree with Dave M.
Another thought: If increased parking is so desperately needed, why cannot a type of Park and Ride' scheme be considered?
Greed should not be the motivating force behind any so-called 'development' of Hebden Bridge.
From Johnny Marascalco
I agree that this scheme appears to be inappropriate for several reasons (only one of which is mentioned here), but would not mourn the loss of a grass verge if the development did take place. That said, I strongly disagree with describing the scheme as a monstrosity or hair-brained. Modern and visionary perhaps, albeit unsuitable, but not monstrous.
And also, greed is far from the motivation behind this development. Any development company is a business which will have very considerable outgoing costs to meet, and if the directors wish to pay themselves generously from any profit made from the scheme, so be it, they worked for it. I despair at this perception of property developers as avaricious monsters, hell-bent on the destruction of communities. I take it that all those who view developers as greedy, happily donate their disposable income to charity? And of course, they would never accept more than the valuation of their own property if they came to sell it, would they?
From Dave M
To answer your questions Lynn T, LLP stands for Limited Liability Parnership and Hebden Royd Development Company was a company formed by Philip Bintliff and David Fletcher to develop the Garden Street site. The decision was made in 2005.
Calderdale Council have given exclusive rights to this company although their scheme was the one voted least acceptable in the public consultation of February 2005.
It is my understanding that the Council proposes to "transfer" the site to the development company, which I assume means free of charge. The Council and developers refuse to provide details of the disposal of this valuable public asset.
Johnny, conflating decisions on whether or not to contribute to charity, or what price to accept on one's own property, with - by your own admission - inappropriate property development, is neither an intelligent or reasoned argument. Any developer takes risks, I agree, and the end results for them have to be a sound business proposition. However, if this develepment is detrimental to the appearance and dynamics of its location, is it acceptable?
Also, I'm interested to know which aspects of the scheme you find modern and visionary?
Don't the council have an obligation to provide this information under the "Freedom of Information Act"?
"Your right to know - The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to request information held by public authorities, companies wholly owned by public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and non-devolved public bodies in Scotland." More info here
From Dave M
Quite right Jasper but this is the Calderdale Council Response. I quote " Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Council has the right to refuse to supply information to an applicant if the information requested is subject to exemptions detailed wthin the at. I believe in this cae of conditions attached to the agreement such an exemption applies and I am not supplying the information"
Wow, this is making the (alleged) relationship between BAE systems and Saudi Princes look ethical!
Dave M: I'm not being ungrateful and thanks for providing the council's answer, but what was the question you asked? And what was the exemption they stated? Is it open to challenge?
It may be worth breaking down the issue into smaller parts eg:
Under the FOI they will be obliged to answer certain questions; if they feel any are exempt then, they will refuse. Constructed carefully, the fact they decline to answer may say more about their activities than actually providing a factual response.
I hope you don't find the above patronising Dave M, as you are obviously far more informed than me on this situation, but this whole thing stinks!
If there is another one of those WatchDog meetings soon then surely this should be discussed!
There is also plenty of opportunity for those involved to participate and clarify these issues on this forum.
Dave M you say the deal was done in 2005. The companies house register shows the partnership was only formed in February of 2006.
Name & Registered Office:
A Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) shares many of the features of a normal partnership - but it also offers reduced personal responsibility for business debts. More info here
Further information in the public domain shows the following:
Current Appointments Report for:
HEBDEN ROYD DEVELOPMENT LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIP
Report Created: 08/06/2007
COMPANY REGISTER INFORMATION
Company Number: OC317675
Number of current appointments: 2
DESIGNATED MEMBER:BINTLIFFE, PHILIP JOHN
DESIGNATED MEMBER:FLETCHER, DAVID EDWIN
So what exactly is going on?
Jasper said "If there is another one of those WatchDog meetings soon then surely this should be discussed!"
The next meeting is next Wednesday 13th June - 7.30 upstairs at the White Lion.
This topic was discussed at the last meeting and will no doubt be discussed again this time.
The meeting is predicted to attract even more people than before.
From Dave M
Jasper, I will try to answer your questions as best I can. You will appreciate that it is a very complicated issue.
The questions asked were: to receive a copy of the Heads of terms agreement" that has been reached between the Council and the development company details of the expected financial return to the Council, both initially and over time, and the risk assessment that these returns will actually be realised.
As I said the reply was- Under FOI Act the Council has the right to refuse this information. This decision is being contested.
Q1 The Council owns the land and they have leased it to the development company.
Q2.No. It is my understanding that they will take a percentage of the total cost of the project
Q3. There wasn't one. A development brief was published by The Councl in May 2004. 3 companies expressed an interest and an exhibition of their plans was held at the library between 04/02/05 and 04/03/05. The public were asked to comment and vote on the schemes. Out of the schemes Studio Baad received least votes, although they were then chosen by the Council as the preferred developer - so much for consultation!
Heads of terms were agreed and the development company established. Hope that goes some way to answering some of your points
From Richard Hull
Calderdale still owns the car park according to Land Registry. And it was valued at £350,000 as of three years ago (May 2004)
From Dave M
Thank you Richard,
That is very interesting. At the consultation meeting held at Linden Mill and organised by Studio BAAD and David Fletcher we were definitely told that the lease had been transferred to the Development Company. Does this mean therefore that the Council still owns the land? The plot thickens
The title deeds that Richard provided show the FREEHOLD is owned by the council.
"The Freehold land shown edged with red on the plan of the above title filed at the Registry and being Garden Street Car Park,
I guess there's no reason why they can't maintain freehold ownership and negotiate a LEASE with a third party.
Could be one of those DBOM projects?
In which case 'Best Value' replaces 'Tendering'...
Would be good to hear from our local councillors on this matter!!! Surely they must know what's going on?
From Anthony Rae
Although David Fletcher has been saying at the public consultation meetings that there are 45 spaces at present in the Garden Street surface car park, there are in fact around 55. Since the developers are required to provide a minimum of 90 public spaces in their multi-storey car park they will therefore be making available an additional 35 public spaces, albeit at the cost of a huge commercial development (apparently around 6,000 sq m) and years of disruption.
(And let's not forget that, with around 50 residential units in the development, and even allowing for just one car per household, that residential demand is likely to exceed the 30 private spaces the developer can provide, maybe reducing the actual availability of the 35 public spaces).
So, where could we find another 35 public spaces? Well:
Add that up and it comes to 83 additional public spaces. Now it is true that some of them are already used for what is called 'illegal' or free parking, but converting these to proper public spaces means that they are available on the same terms as all the other public car parks. If they are not charged for, they are used inefficiently; and it's unfair if everyone else is paying.
So, if the concern is to provide additional public spaces, you can provide more than double the additional amount to be provided by the Garden Street development almost immediately, and at comparatively almost no expense. Just taking the first two opportunities, within the development site itself, boosts the public parking there to 80 - just 10 short of the multi-storey provision.
And all this is before we factor in the opportunities for even more longstay parking at the Station site. The link to these details is at the bottom of this thread.
Why therefore has this option not been evaluated? Probably because nobody bothered to ask the first and most obvious question: if we want additional public parking, what is the cheapest and easiest way to find it? Instead people have been led by the nose towards the illusion that a multi-storey car park will provide a big dollop of additional public spaces. It won't.
This is the point when our elected members step in and explain the rationale behind the project. Or perhaps just say "I'll look into it and report back." Or say, "well actually I'd prefer a big carpark at the station." I expect we'll start seeing them posting on this very soon.
From Michael Jennings
The Development Brief of May 2004 states "It is proposed that the provision of public car parking is significantly increased" (3.3)
We need to ask the question as to whether this development will increase significantly the number of public car parking spaces. I think the answer has to be no. It is quite obvious to me that the driving force behind this scheme is a comprehensive mixed - use residential/ commercial development with very little regard for for the provision of many more public parking spaces. Indeed the very fact that more apartments/retail outlets will be built can only add to the parking problem.
Again, the Development Brief states "attempts should be made to reduce traffic levels and to develop more integrated transport arrangements."
I would like to suggest that the future development of the railway station site would be a step in the right direction. Encouraging visitors to park there, leaving plenty of on - street parking in the town centre for people who wish to do some quick shopping. I am sure that it would possible to devise a scheme whereby the many empty Metro buses now running around town could be used within "A Park and Ride Scheme".
For instance - parking payment could include a ticket to the town centre. Payment then made to the bus company for each passenger carried. Surely it is better to have 20 passengers paying 10p than to no passengers at all. This is just a suggestion and I am sure that the the Council and Metro could develop a workable system.
Meanwhile the philosophy behind the Garden Street Multi-storey development is flawed, driven by people with vested interests. I believe the car parking spaces can be increased significantly by exploring possibilities within the present provision - as Anthony so graphically demonstrates.
I quote from the Development Brief of 2004 "The overall height, form, and scale of the proposed development should not dominate either when viewed from within the town or from surrounding hillsides.....The appearance of any proposal from the adjacent hillside will be of crucial importance."
From Anthony Rae
Mike makes a very important point: how do the proposals which we are seeing during this consultation opportunity comply with the development brief set by Calderdale Council?
(I make a further point that the consultation process is also deficient in that nothing has been made available to consultees set down in writing. So nothing about what the developer is proposing [and no consultation response forms either]; no copy of the development brief, or even the basics of the legal agreement between the developer and the council. I have asked the Council's head of regeneration Adrian Rose whether the latter can be provided).
I can't think that a consultation process can have much validity if those being consulted are not able to understand, and to judge, whether the development brief has been met - or even know that it existed. Mike is fortunate to have a copy of this document, and I must have one somewhere in my papers from 2004; but what about everybody else?
And there's a further point: what status does the development brief now have, since it may have been superseded by the unseen and commercially confidential legal agreement? If it turns out that the scheme submitted in the intended planning application at the start of July does not in fact comply, which part of the Council should turn it down? That part which prepared the legal agreement (acting for the Council as site owner); or that part responsible for determining planning applications (a separate process, with an ostensible firewall in between), because I think unless the development brief had the status of a supplementary planning document (which it doesn't) then it might not have necessary weight when the application comes to be decided. I'm not a planner; maybe one can advise?
From Lynne T
There seem to be a number of people on this site who have a great deal of information which is not available elsewhere. Thank you.
If I have understood it correctly the extra parking places can be achieved by extending the existing space to include Tan Pits and the ramp.
This seems to be a quick, easy, low impact solution with no protracted disruption and very cost effective.
Is this correct?
If so, why was this high impact, very disruptive, very expensive scheme ever considered? Why choose chose this route when a simple solution was so close at hand?
Anthony says "people have been led by the nose" By whom?
Who suggested that Hebden Bridge might want this? "Calderdale" is an easy answer. Who does that mean? Our local councillors? the Town Planning Officers? Or some other organisation?
I would be very grateful if any of you experts can tell me. Thanks
From Anthony Rae
Lynne - some very good questions because, if some decision process is going wrong, it is always best to go back to the point when it went wrong in the first place, and start again.
So here are my answers (but bear in mind they are from the perspective of someone who has never supported the idea of a multi-storey scheme. Other people may have a different version).
In answer to the first question, yes you are right: it is obviously the better approach to go for low impact, surface car park solutions - on the development site and elsewhere.
So why choose a multi-storey route, and who chose it? The idea came out of Stage 2 of the HB traffic review. The review steering group did not operate by voting, but instead by consensus. When we came to discuss the issue of large-scale additional car parking provision (summer 2003), the views expressed were:
Consequently, out of this somewhat odd situation, the idea survived through to the public consultation in autumn 2003, and the results were: additional parking at the rail Station 94% in favour, 6% against; Town Council Station Road car park 86% in favour, 14% against; 'private sector invited to identify MSCP options at Garden Street 66% in favour, 34% against.
From this point on, the idea of developing the Garden Street option was taken forward by Calderdale Council; not by the Highways department (who have worked with us on the traffic review), but by the Regeneration section. The issue was not discussed further (as I recall) in the steering group. When the 3 preferred developer schemes came to be considered I was nominated by the Town Council to be their representative on the Panel.
In addition to the three options to support a particular developer, I asked that a 4th option 'support none of them' also be considered. When it came to the decision, I voted against all three schemes on the grounds that (i) issues relating to access to the car park had not been adequately evaluated (ii) the accompanying commercial development was too large scale; and (iii) the preferred scheme did not comply with the UDP in relation to minimum distances to adjacent residential premises.
But the panel nonetheless decided to appoint a preferred developer, the argument being that these issues could adequately be determined when a planning application came to be submitted in due course. I thought that was the wrong judgment, because it seemed wrong to put both the community and the developer through all the further effort and potential disagreement if there were some fundamental or substantial difficulties that should have been resolved at this earliest stage.
So, in answer to your last question: by whom have they been 'led by the nose'? Although the answer is never always clear, because as you will have seen projects like this just develop 'a life of their own', I think the principal responsibility for the MS option continuing to progress must rest with:
As I said, others on the Steering Group may have a different recollection and they are welcome to express their views.
From Lynne T
Thanks for the very thorough explanation Anthony.
I am amazed!
From Michael Jennings
Another curious and disturbing fact to add to your personal account of the decision making processes behind the multi-storey car park development. The Development Brief not only stated aims and strategic objectives of the Proposed Development but named a number of people to contact for further information. Of the eight people named, seven were employees of Calderdale Council, the eighth was David Fletcher. How could he then become a preferred developer? Is this a case of insider information? Also why was Adrian Rose, Regeneration Officer, Calderdale Council, part of the Hebden Royd Development Company (Studio BAAD/David Fletcher) team giving a presentation to the general public on Saturday?
We need some answers from the Council, Local Councillors and the Developers.
More than amazed.
So what next?
Mr Fletcher - can you give us some answers on here?
From Charlie O
If the councillors etc refuse to give any (sensible) answers, why not get the press and Look North/Calendar involved?
Hebden Bridge is known throughout Yorkshire (and beyond) and I am sure both of these TV programmes, plus the Yorkshire Post, Halifax Courier would be interested to hear and disseminate what is happening.
I bet they would get better answers than we have seemingly been able to up to now.
From Michael Jennings
On re-reading my reply to Anthony I would like to rectify any misunderstanding regarding the presence of Mr Rose at the Saturday Consultation meetings. It was only after I had left the meeting that I was told of the attendance of Mr Rose. During the presentation, at least not whilst I was there, was Adrian Rose introduced or an explanation given as to his role.
I have since been informed that he could have been there to ensure that the consultation process was happening. My apologies for any apparent misunderstanding. In no way was I implying that Mr Rose has, or had, any involvement with, or in Hebden Royd Development Company.
Posted by Tom Standfield
Yes, where are our councillors now they have our votes!
Hebden Royd Town Council's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I am about to email them to draw their attention to this thread. Others may like to do so too.
Posted by David Spencer
As an occasional visitor to Hebden Bridge, I have read with interest the various comments regarding plans to develop the town centre over the years - the latest of which is the scheme to build an ultra modern car park / residential block near Garden Street.
I tend to park in Garden Street Car Park when visiting Hebden Bridge. What draws me into Hebden Bridge (Like many thousands of others I suspect) is the fact that it is not just another identikit town centre. I live and work in Manchester, and see far too many glass and concrete "fads" on a daily basis.
Speaking personally, my inclination to visit your town for events such as the annual Duck Race, the festival, to go to the Trades Club or to dine at the Thai or Hebdens etc etc will be diminshed by developments along the lines of the propsed Garden Street "tower".
Now whilst my few hundred ££'s a year of incoming money won't make or break the town, multiply that by several hundred/thousand, and you may just see your thriving mill town/tourist trap go the way of other noteable failures.
I would remind your planners that the country is awash with town centres that were desecrated in the 60's and 70's by "modern" developments that were, at the time, proposed the anwer to local parking/shopping problems. I'm sure the developers then were just as convinced of the merits ( and just as keen to reap the rewards )
Hebend Bridge was fortunate enough to avoid the 1970's rush to concrete - albeit because at the time no one wanted to invest there. The deprivation of the previous 20 years may, ironically, be the very reason Hebden is now seen as a (relatively) unspoilt jewel in the Calder Valley.
Your councillors should think long and hard before allowing a structure to be built in such a prominet location, in a design that will change the entire nature of the town centre - and would also no doubt be the first of many similar schemes, setting a precedent that would be hard to resist in future applications.
Posted by Laura Wright
David Spencer's remarks about how Hebden Bridge remained unspoilt in the sixties when a lot of similar towns were being engulfed in concrete are particularly pertinent to this discussion, since David Fletcher was, in that era,one of those responsible for the sensitive regeneration and conservation of the town. I, for one, had a lot of respect for him for this reason.
However I would now like to quote the letter which I have just sent to the Hebden Bridge Times, as it may not be published.
"In your June 7th edition you state that 'The Hebden Bridge Limited Liability Partnership is seeking views and opinions on the company's proposals to build a minimum of 120 parking spaces, privately funded by associated residential, retail and commercial properties. A partner in the project Mr David Fletcher, said: 'There are many different ways in which this can be achieved and we would welcome views and opinions.'
"When I gave my opinion at a consultation meeting on 1st June that I would prefer Tanpits car park to be landscaped in a similar way to the Marina with stone setts, trees, the old garages demolished and parking for 12 vehicles, rather than a five story block, Mr Fletcher replied: "Can you buy the land then?"
a) Was this a public consultation or not?
From Michael Jennings
Was this a public consultation? In name only. We were told that the discussions and opinions expressed at these meeting would influence the final thinking. It transpires that the next opportunity to see the proposed scheme will be when a formal application is made to Calderdale Planning Department on July 2nd 2007. Whilst ojections to the planning application can be lodged, there are to be no more timetabled cosultation meetings with the developers. Please look out for petition notices
As for ownership etc please read notes posted by Richard and Jasper and follow the links. This may answer your question.
Later messages - from 14th June