From Joseph S
Can we have some more guidance on this now from those who are better informed.
It seems amazing that the proposal has been supported by officers in light of all of the objections. Is this normal however and do the officers not really take notice of the objections? Does it indicate anything? What are the chances of the officers' recommendations been overturned? If we go to the planning meeting will that make much of a difference. I think that only one or two people can speak - is that right?
Any guidance much appreciated.
From Andy Preston
It is crucial to recognise that the planning officers have not only given their own consideration to the scheme, but more imprtantly, have consulted with over a dozen other public bodies before reaching their decision. Each of whom will have had to evaluate various aspects of the scheme, from environmental impact, through to flood risk.
With regard to the objections, they will not have been overlooked. However, volume is simply unimportant unless all of the objections are valid in planning terms. Many of the reasons for objection put forward by the action group have no authenticity whatsoever. Also, those making objections using a formula created by an action group, and not their own set of objections, must surely be discounted.
From Joseph S
Thanks for your comment. I fear we are at cross purposes. I asked for guidance on how the planning process went forward from here & what weight the officers opionions had in making the final decision.
You appear to have answered a different question. Rebutting my point & then making your own declaration is what they teach in media training on day 1, which by the sounds of it is just where you are.
If you want to make your own point please do, but please don't tag it onto mine. Surely its just more honest to say "I'm the developer/architect/PR company". That way we all know where we are and can have an intelligent debate about it.
And if you want to try out guerilla style blog tampering then at least do it a little more delicately.
"Many of the reasons for objection put forward by the action group have no authenticity whatsoever. Also, those making objections using a formula created by an action group, and not their own set of objections, must surely be discounted."
.....is a real giveaway-(bless you!).
From Andy Preston
I would not know what they teach on media training on day 1, but I would imagine that assumption and condescension are not on the course synopsis. I am neither a developer/architect/PR company and to suggest this is merely trying to discredit me, and not the point I made. I do not live in Hebden Bridge, but travel to work there every day and therefore have an interest in this.
Your said that "It seems amazing that the proposal has been supported by officers in light of all of the objections." and I merely pointed out to you why this might be.
I'm sorry it wasn't the answer you were looking for, but sometimes that's just life.
Joseph says: 'Can we have some more guidance on this now from those who are better informed.'
Things are moving quite fast now, so I'll do my best.
- We're just about to issue a press release in response to the Council report, and this will be available on our website very shortly. In general go to www.notogardenstreet.org.uk for the latest position and news.
- We'll complete today our critique of the officers' report. What we have found is a systematic one sidedness and lack of balance, and we will be submitting these conclusions to the Planning Committee councillors with a request that they ask for an explanation. There is still some discussion going on as to whether we should publish this critique online. Usually we would want to do this – and this would allow everybody to judge the merits of the respective cases; and in particular allow Andy Preston to eat his words that “With regard to the objections, they will not have been overlooked” - but there is another view that this will give both the developers and the Council the opportunity to shift their ground yet again before Monday's Planning Committee. So there's a judgement to be made here
- If anyone wants to discuss any issues or find out more information, come along to our Stall in the Square this Saturday between 10.30-2pm
- And, above all, don't think that it's a foregone conclusion because the officers have recommended acceptance. It's essential that as many people as possible come along to the special Planning Committee on Monday at 6 p.m to demonstrate the extent of community objection, so put it in your diary now – details on the Hebweb homepage and our site. As we're saying: “Yet again Hebden Bridge has been failed by the Calderdale officers. We now need to rely on the good judgement of the councillors on their Planning Committee to stop this completely unnecessary and damaging development.”
From Anne Handley
Whether Andy was answering the right question or a different one, he did not deserve the response he got for supplying information which he no doubt thought would be useful!
He's quite right to say that the volume of the objections is not necessarily important - it's whether they are valid in planning terms. And that 'duplicated' objections do not carry as much weight. However, valid and invalid criteria are published on the Council website and I assume the Action Group are aware of them.
I'll return to Andy's points in due course but as an immediate response to Anne's more measured restatement of them, the Council criteria can be found here and of course the Action Group is framing its objections within the planning framework. We'd put our compendium of objections online so that people can understand and judge this - even contribute to them; like a Wiki! - but, as before, we're not going assist the developer or Council by disclosure just at this point.
From Joseph S
I apologise if I have offended anyone. However, I really think that we need to have a bit of realism here. The developer is employing a professional PR company to get its message across, so the question is not if there are any posts on this forum made by the developer or their representatives, but which.
Funnily enough, in checking back through the old threads and posts I was reminded that I was not against the proposal at all to start with. If you check back on my old posts I think I've supported every other piece of development in this forum, from pedestrianisation to fustian knifes to tin tabs & more I suspect, so I really am pro development. I first objected to this one because you could not clearly see what was being proposed. And even now, even with the pictures, its only when you stand there, and try to visualise what is being proposed that you realise the immense scale of the whole thing. How they are cramming into every nook & cranny, taking the light from existing buildings & squeezing just about every inch of open space out of the land. I'm really sorry, its just too big.
From Andy Preston
Can someone please explain to me the arithmetic behind the 3,399 objections?
"From what I can gather, this figure appears to include duplicate and standardised responses, as well as further comments on previous objections."
I'm wondering if perhaps the same person who calculated the miracle of the Parking Wizard's trick also counted up the objections.
From Peter Hayton
Andy, you say you do not live in Hebden Bridge but work here and you have an interest in this issue. Yes, you do, but your interest is simply in having a parking space where you can leave your car all day, Monday to Friday, occupying very scarce, valuable town centre land, while providing little or no extra value to the town. There are many places where you can be provided with a parking space to park all day, albeit you may have to walk a bit further.
Meanwhile, there are people who have homes adjacent to the site, which are fixed and cannot move, and in which they have most, maybe all, their assets tied up, possibly gathered over a working lifetime. They would suffer serious loss and disruption.
There are also many businesses owners, who again cannot move, and could suffer serious damage from this scheme. Some fear complete closure. 116 businesses have signed up in objection and this fact was not mentioned once, anywhere, in the 47 pages of the planning officers report.
Which interest is most important - your interest or the interests of many residents and businesses in the town?
From Jason Elliott
Putting on my economists glasses for a moment to look at this project, I can see no commercial justification for it right now, or in the near future, in any way.
The idea for the development will have been hatched at a point in the economic cycle when all in the garden was rosy. Property prices were on what seemed to be a never-ending ascent and constructing luxury dwellings (particularly in an idylic commuter town only 33 miles from the new BBC centre at Salford) seemed like a rock solid bet.
Now, of course, its a different kettle of fish. Property prices are likely to continue to fall for another year or two until 25 to 35% lower than their heady peak and I find it very unlikely (particulary in view of the stringent approach borrowing now coming into vogue) that they will not get back to their previous levels for eight to ten years.
Property developers and constructors are going bust across the country as land values drop and the only potential for growth is in the social sector where action is essential.
To state the obvious, the Garden Street development is not targeted at this market and so very, very unlikely to be able to make a profit of any note and quite probably a loss.
I think that David Fletcher will be looking for a way out.
In truth, there are things that he has done in Hebden Bridge that have added positively to the place and he has supporters in the most unlikely places, so my view is that he would prefer to be seen in his autumn years as the benevolent patrician rather than as some kind of hate figure and will now seek an exit strategy rather than losing a lot of money and being despised by his neighbours.
Having said all that, I'm not taking any chances and so will be at the planning meeting on Monday to show my support for the objections.
From Andrew Hall
I share Joseph's concerns about the planning process.
From Andy Preston
That's a really lovely sentiment Peter, however I'd appreciate it if someone could answer my question about the number of objections.
From Joseph S
This view of David Fletcher from Jason is interesting.
"so my view is that he would prefer to be seen in his autumn years as the benevolent patrician rather than as some kind of hate figure and will now seek an exit strategy rather than losing a lot of money and being despised by his neighbours"
My grandfathers cousin used to work for whatever the Yorkshire regeneration agency was in the 1970's. We met earlier this year at a family event, and he told me a story about coming out to meet David Fletcher in the early 70's, who then had ideas for regenerating and developing a sleepy & run down old milltown. 30 years later, Hebden has outstripped every similar sized community for miles around and become a wealthy and vibrant community. I'm sure Mr Fletcher would not try to claim the credit for everything, but in the role of a benevolent patrician, he's contibuted to the great community that we now all live in (as well a making some cash- which seems fair enough to me).
And as Jason now points out, the Garden Street development, if it went ahead, would make him and his family deeply unpopular for years to come. What's important to you when you are 70- making money- or the respect of your friends & neighbours?
From Joseph S
"Can someone please explain to me the arithmetic behind the 3,399 objections? From what I can gather, this figure appears to include duplicate and standardised responses, as well as further comments on previous objections."
Well Andy. Say for example there are 10 valid objections to the development. What people could have done is all got together and just submitted one form with all of the objections on. Alternatively, people could submit one each. As most people are happy with the concept of democracy, I imagine that it was felt that 3,399 (or whatever the exact figure is- but I'm sure you get my point) objections would appear to carry more weight than just one?
Secondly, a standardised objection is perfectly valid in the process. If Mr Smith wants to object, then they can either say "I don't like it its just way to big and totally out of keeping with the rest of the town and causes maximum disruption to the many for a marginal benefit to the town" which may or may not be a valid objection. Alternatively, they can use a standard objection that they know will present an objection that is legitimate under planning legislation. So, seeing as not everyone has the time to learn planning legislation, you take specialist advice to put your argument across. They key point surely is that its a seperate person that has made an objection, and that each persons opinion is individually valid.
I hope that clears it up for you.
From Anthony Rae
Andy Preston writes: “Can someone please explain to me the arithmetic behind the 3,399 objections?” Certainly:
Officers' report page 10 main application: 728 objections to original submission + further 1570 objections to revised submission less 572 'duplicates' where the objector submitted to both = 1726
Officers' report page 43 secondary application to demolish retaining wall: 632 objections to original submission + further 1309 objections to revised submission less 268 'duplicates' where the objector submitted to both = 1673
1726 + 1673 = 3399 objections in total with “duplications between original and revised schemes removed from each amount” as our press release says.
All properly sourced and disclosed, and added up on a spreadsheet. Still, you don't need one of those to total up 8 expressions of support, do you?
And now let me quickly (since I do have more important things to do just at the moment) deal with Andy's earlier posting:
“With regard to the objections, they will not have been overlooked” - Except that they have been. See the Action Group press release from yesterday for a demonstration of this.
“Many of the reasons for objection put forward by the action group have no authenticity whatsoever”: Actually, all the grounds in the Action Group's 'standardised' letter are valid on planning grounds, and of course we wrote them that way.
“However, volume is simply unimportant unless all of the objections are valid in planning terms”: No, volume is important for understanding the extent of community response, and also in the technical matter of ensuring proper balance within the summary of the expressions of support/objection in the officers' report.
“Also, those making objections using a formula created by an action group, and not their own set of objections, must surely be discounted”: Wrong again, a properly submitted objection is of course valid, and in the case of the Action Group's standardised' objection letter, we provided the opportunity for individuals to write their own personal comments and some 264 people did just that.
So, wrong in every respect. Not a bad strike rate.
From Joseph S
The Independent piece is staggeringly biased & wonderfully timed. Just shows what you get when you can afford a PR company to fight your corner I suppose.
Independent my ****.
From Chris Freeman
Im over the moon for everyone in the town after seeing that its been thrown out tonight ! Well done i will post more tomorrow .... A special town with special people and a special place for myself and my wife. Congratulations!
From Julie C
Well done everybody and a big thank you to all the people who've struggled so hard against this plan and gone to Halifax today. I've been logging on all evening hoping to catch the news from planning. Congratulations from Sunderland.
From Andrew Hall
It was heartening, and even quite emotional, to see so many people attend the planning meeting on Monday. These were not professional agitators, not nimbys, and not people against modern architecture per se, just individuals and families with a passionate conviction that this is the wrong development for Hebden Bridge.
From Joseph S
Great stuff. Well done everybody!
From David Jennings
Well done to the locals who have (at this stage anyway) succeeded in overturning a project that seemed, for many months, certain to go ahead regardless.
Local Government / councils come in for a fair amount if stick, but in this case the councillors did their job, and represented their wards.
Local Democracy 1, Faceless Bureaucracy 0
Interesting to note the two supporting votes for this scheme were from a failed BNP supporter and a Tory from Sowerby Bridge. Nice bedfellows, Mr Fletcher !!
On a personal note, I have family who have been active the No campaign, and one of the most frustrating/disturbing sides to this whole saga has been the "smear campaign" the developers have indulged in - some of the personal attacks in the press have borne no resemblance to the people I know.
It seems to me (from a distance - I live in Oldham) that the developers took their eye of the ball a bit when stating their case - probably because they thought it was a done deal - and didn't bother to address the genuine concerns expressed locally, choosing instead to be dismissive and sneary.
Their hubris got them nowhere - and has probably saved Hebden Bridge from a development destined to blight the town for decades.
The planners should take a long hard look at the way they allowed Calderdale to get end up with such a vested interest.
From Janice S
A great relief (but I don't think it's going to go away)!
Incidentally, the much-vaunted CABE approval of the design, dated Feb 2008 (presumably based on the very basic plans submitted early this year) is not entirely favourable:
"Given the limited information required for outline planning applications, we are not completely convinced as to how the sculptural design will work in detail..."
From Allen Keep
I haven't been as involved as much as I would have liked in this campaign but I have signed petitions and emailed and attended the public meetings and kept myself informed.
Congratulations to Anthony (tried to shake your hand but perhaps you were a little pumped up!) and the Action Group... their sheer persistance and determination has been truly remarkable.
What was so clear last night (apart from the clarity and force of the objector's arguments) was the shameless level of collaboration between the unelected council officers (with able assistance from a Tory and an ex BNP member) and the developers. To defeat a combination of mindless bureaucracy, monied interest and the political right is some achievement.
In my view, with all due respect to the campaigners who made it happen, our most valuable weapon was a simple one.. people and unity. Fortunately, there was always a democratic door that could open in our favour and the citizens of Hebden kicked it in (not literally of course because we are far too polite). On a night when the system that represents the opposite of the will of the people went into freefall our small victory was all the sweeter.
From Jaye C
The impression I got at the meeting was of Council staff doing their utmost to ensure that the grounds for objection were stated as clearly and precisely as possible, so that the objection might have some chance of surviving an appeal, which might be somewhat more rigorous than last night's debate.
From Anthony Rae
Just a quick corrective if I may to some of the recent messages: their reference to the two votes supporting the application being from a Conservative and an ex BNP councillor.
Setting aside the 'BNP' issue, which is something quite separate:
- Councillors on a Planning Committee are legally required to determine a planning application as they personally understand and judge its merits, and we should not criticise if they do this - whichever way they vote. In this particular case we can be very glad that they did just that.
- Secondly, whilst people are pointing to the fact that one Conservative councillor voted in favour, please do remember that two other Conservative councillors voted to reject; alongside two Liberal Democratic councillors, and one Labour councillor. Voting on the Planning Committee should not be on party grounds, but in this case all the councillors of these three parties should receive our thanks.
From Mary Seward
Well done Everyone
From Elizabeth Nelson
I moved to Hebden Bridge 30 years ago but at present I live in Todmorden. I love Hebden Bridge and I duly sent my objection to Calderdale and wrote to the HBT (although not published).
Like everyone else, I feel such gratitude and admiration towards Anthony Rae and all those who have banded together to stop this monstrosity from ruining our lovely town (note "our" - it's as much mine as anyone elses!).
I agree this has not gone away but how sad that David Fletcher doesn't have it in him to just apologise for getting it wrong and stop this bandwaggon now. When it rears its head again I hope to hear some more names from Todmorden, and from lovers of Hebden Bridge from further afield than Mytholmroyd - wouldn't that help?
From Lou R
Please don't get complaisant - the developers have spent too much time and money in trying to get this passed to give up now.
It will not go away in a hurry, and we should all expect further news ...
From Glyn Hughes
All this feels like when I came in 1971-2 or thereabouts. There was a scheme to replace the environs of "The Square" with a quasi Arndale Centre development. Imagine if that had gone through. Yet, at the time not that many of us (as I recall) opposed it. It was a victory though. The whole present quality of Hebden Bridge has evolved, in part but quite crucialy, from that opposition.
My own village of Mill Bank could echo the story, at around the same time.
Most (all?) the surviving, loved and desired towns and villages of England could echo this story, from York to Canterbury, from Scarborough to Worcester. Now they are mostly lived in by property developers, lawyers, retired politicians, monied escapees of one breed or another ....
Here we go again ....
From Lynne T
Of course it feels like 1972. Guess which Hebden Royd town planning councillor was behind the scheme for turning St George's Square into an Arndale Centre?
From Glyn Hughes
I don't remember who the Town Planning Councillor was .... would Lynne T tell us?
From Lynne T
Glyn, David Fletcher of course!
Firstly a massive heartfelt thankyou to everyone who helped in the campaign to stop this happening especially Anthony and Peter and Ann and my own daughter Saph not forgetting my grandsons Zeb and Eli , who did lots of work leafletting.
Secondly if this Vision of Hell does rear its ugly head again I hope that, having seen the monstrosity that was intended to block all daylight from my house on Anthony's slide at the meeting last Monday, people will now be aware that a) it is not just Garden St that will be affected but also Crossley Terrace b) why we don't want it.
Hebweb News: plans thrown out
Hebweb News - Report of public meeting at Riverside School
YouTube videos from the public meeting at Riverside School
Hebweb Feature on Garden Street
Planning Watch - for commenting online and links to developers' documents.
Hebweb Forum thread - Jan-Feb 2008 (50-60 messages, many extremely well informed and articulated)
Courier letter 10th March 2008
Courier, 16th Jan 2008
Hebweb Forum thread - 2007 (50-60 messages)
Hebweb News (June 2007) - Parking options: Garden Street or the Station