Discussion Forum

Community assets

Posted by Anne
Sunday, February 20, 2005

I've read the article about the Pitt St. squat and the comments about stripping Hebden Bridge of its community assets etc. and I admit I'm torn between agreeing with the editor's remarks about dwindling community assets (as a person born and brought up in the valley, I want to make it a good place to live and I believe we should hang on to as many of our assets as we can), and disagreeing with the assumption that the loss of the old TIC building to a fish restaurant, the conversion of underused buildings to fuller utilisation, moving the library to a more suitable location, and building a much needed car park will necessarily be bad, or lead to 'gentrification'. I believe that people who have moved to Hebden Bridge recently - and a lot of others - actually want these changes.

The words "development" and "profit" are used in several articles on the HebWeb in a derogatory way, and yet for progress to take place we have to have change (development) and the businesses or organisations bringing about that change have to be sustainable (i.e. not make a loss = make a profit).

Another thing, why is 'gentrification' a bad thing? I think I must be part of the process of gentrification, because I returned to the area 10 years ago and bought a house that my friends who stayed and worked here couldn't have afforded. House prices have gone up partly because of 'the likes of me'. There is an assumption that most people who move here are commuters - is there any evidence for an increase in the number of commuters? Twenty or thirty years ago, I knew a lot of young people who travelled daily to Halifax, Bradford or Manchester many of those people now work locally or work from home. Even if one member of the household works in Manchester or Leeds, there might be 2 or 3 others who don't. At my daughter's old school, most of the classroom assistants and lunchtime supervisors had husbands/partners with high-paid jobs, some out of town, but where would the schools be without these second earners?

I know there were local people back in the 60s who felt that hippies moving into the area would be bound to lead to a decline in business, lowering of prices, and less money for improvement in public amenities. At the time, they would have much preferred gentrification !

Thankfully (partly due to those self-same hippies) Hebden now has an eclectic mix of born and bred locals, hippies, and more recent offcumdens, who work, shop and go to school side by side. This is one of the things I like about it and it gives the place life.

But sometimes I think the antagonism towards the more recent offcumdens (largely from the last lot of offcumdens!) goes too far and makes far too many assumptions about their lifestyle and their motives.

Please lay off the people moving into the area. Our biggest community assets are people, not buildings, and new, different people will bring new, different assets.

Posted by Rachel
Sunday, February 20, 2005

I have to say that I am so relieved that Ann left the message she did re: community assets. So eloquently put a lot of points and opinions which I agree with. I have lived here (moving all the way from Leeds!) for 9 months and have experienced/observed with great interest the strength of opinions of a number of community members on varying subjects and admire them having the courage of their convictions and standing up for what they believe. I also must admit that I have investigated further into stories on Hebweb and the local press and think that its often a bit of a single sided view and facts of matters that are published/put across. There are often more than 2 sides to stories let alone just 1 and I strongly advise everyone to study all the facts of a story and find out the truth behind it not just opinions of a number of impassioned individuals.

I really admire people who get behind causes particularly those who do so fully informed of all the facts. I continue to listen and read about whats happening around and about with great interest and greatly thank Hebweb for letting us hear lots of opinions and find out whats happening in general. It all adds to the rich and diverse community that we live in and hopefully continues to increase awareness and openness that is apparent here the Calder Valley.

Posted by Andrew Hall
Monday, February 21, 2005

In the past 3 weeks, something like 170 separate planning applications have been submitted to Calderdale Council. These range from felling trees in TPO protected areas to large scale housing developments. Most will be approved, and only a minority will be will be refused.

And that's the point! The vast majority of people have no objection to the vast majority of developments. But there are, of course, exceptions where one needs to make a stand.

Of course, looking at Hebweb, one might assume that most contributors are anti-development, and want the town to stay just as it is. I don't think that's the case at all. My own contributions to Hebweb have highlighted 3 or 4 significant developments which I feel are not necessarily in the best interests of the town. I suppose I could have posted messages in support of the remaining 166 developments on Calderdale's books in February, but how dull that would be!

Surely it is a good thing that people take an interest in these things and show concern where they feel appropriate? The alternative is apathy, and a much easier time for developers, some of whose motives are driven by greed rather than a genuine regard for the Upper Calder Valley.

Some outline planning approvals, for example, stipulate that a development should be a mix of domestic and light industrial/commercial. Since domestic housing is so much more lucrative than industrial units, some developers will be tempted to effectively plan a housing estate, and maybe put up a token industrial unit to comply with the conditions of the approval.

During my time as a parish councillor, we were once asked to approve an agricultural building. It was supposed to be a stable - the rooms were labelled 'Mare's Room', 'Foal's Room', and, up the stairs, 'Hay Loft'. Suspicions were aroused when the mare's 'eating stalls' were fitted out with kitchen units!

I don't want to make a fuss - life's too short! But isn't it better to draw to people's attention planning applications which may be questionable? I'm sure people are then capable of making up their own minds.

Posted by Gary Rathbone
Saturday, February 26, 2005

As a relative 'newcomer' and by default part of the 'gentrification' process I feel deeply offended by the comments made by the so called 'protesters'.

Athough we work outside of Hebden Bridge, all our shopping and socialising is done within our local community. Hence, we support local shops, pubs, restaurants on a daily basis. We are the future of Hebden Bridge, like it or not!

The preposition of a 'dormatory town' is totally unfounded. As far as the reallocation of 'community assets' then I ask this; why only 40 people protesting within a population of 4,800? Because, the rest believe reallocation will fulfil the needs of the many, not the few.

The protests and media coverage only serve to display the ignorance and selfishness of this minority, and contribute greatly to their own self-destruction.

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way..."