Thursday, 16 May 2013
Partnership’s Action Plan published.
‘Town team’ offers a vision of Hebden Bridge in 2020
Proposals include: Rebuilding the iconic Buttress Brink; removal of traffic lights from the centre, the market's removal to Lees Yard, lifts at the railway station, new pedestrian bridge from Holme Street to Fairfield, bandstand in the park and much more
Thirty-nine steps towards a better Hebden Bridge: that is what’s at the core of the 24 page Action Plan for the town, prepared by Hebden Bridge Partnership and to be launched at a drop-in consultation day this Saturday (May 18th) at the Hebden Bridge Town Hall.
The Action Plan’s thirty-nine proposals for the town range from simple recommendations which can be achieved relatively easily to much more ambitious suggestions. The report’s authors say that they are looking to help build a town with a flourishing community and cultural life and a strong local economy as well as one which is based on environmental sustainability.
The report is entitled 2020 Vision: Hebden Bridge in 2020 – a better place for all, and is the fruit of over a year of detailed discussions. It follows an earlier Action Plan produced by the Partnership in 2005 which among other things helped kick-start the pedestrianisation of Bridge Gate and the Town Hall development.
The Partnership, recognised as the ‘town team’, was launched in 2001 to help the social and economic regeneration of the town. It is the umbrella organisation for local community groups and voluntary sector initiatives, and has representation from the town and rural parish councils and from Calderdale Council.
According to the Partnership’s Chair Andrew Bibby, the document to be launched on Saturday is at this stage a draft document, which will be revised to take account of comments and feedback from the community. “The report is designed to help us, together, discuss what sort of town we want Hebden Bridge to be.
"Some of our suggestions are, we think, just plain common sense. For example, we have a minor suggestion to make about traffic flow in Albert Street which we think can create at least twelve new parking places. Other suggestions are deliberately ambitious, and some may be controversial.”
2020 Vision is divided into six sections.
The first looks at Hebden Bridge’s town centre, including the everyday problems faced in reconciling the heavy traffic flow along the A646 with local life. The report proposes a ‘diagonal’ pedestrian crossing at the main traffic lights (similar to the one at London’s Oxford Circus), but also more radically suggests discussion of a ‘shared space’ traffic management scheme, as successfully introduced in the Cheshire town of Poynton. (See HebWeb discussion of Shared Space and link to the Poynton YouTube)
The report floats the idea of further small areas of pedestrianisation and makes proposals to make Market St more attractive for shoppers. The Partnership also wants steps taken to improve accessibility, including wheelchair accessibility, to the town.
The second section, entitled the local economy, looks at ways of supporting Hebden Bridge’s independent businesses during the current economic recession. The report comes out firmly in favour of relocating the open market to Lees Yard, already an idea being actively progressed, and also calls for markets on additional days. It suggests among other things an accredited farmers’ market restricted to local produce, a regular second-hand book market, and open-air art sales in good weather. The report also proposes ways to strengthen the visitor economy. Recommendations for the way forward for two significant sites in the town, including Brown’s site at Mytholm, are also put forward.
“We know that we are already well known for our independent shops, but we can’t be complacent. What we can do is build on our strengths,” Andrew Bibby adds.
2020 Vision also includes a section on housing which among other ideas floats the extremely radical suggestion that Buttress Brink, the quirky building demolished (to many people’s regret) in the 1960s, be rebuilt. More generally, the report suggests that land cleared of housing during the 1960s clearances could be the focus for sensitive new infill.
There are further suggestions for transport. The Partnership has thrown its weight behind the campaign for lifts at the station, as well as for more parking in the station yard. There is recognition of the need to fight for decent local buses, and the report suggests the formation of a campaigning bus-users’ group. Recommendations for cycling and walking are also included, and the report notes the opportunities to exploit next year’s Tour de France.
Community, social and artistic life
In a lengthy section on community, social and artistic life, the Partnership takes issue with the current state of parts of Calder Holmes Park. It commends the initiatives being taken by the Friends of Calder Holmes Park, which include the possibility of a bandstand/performance area. The report calls for one of the tennis courts to be reinstated. More generally, 2020 Vision has a number of proposals for new leisure facilities, including the idea of bringing back a children’s learner pool, similar to the one lost a decade ago at Pitt St.
More ambitiously still, the report calls for work to assess the possibility of a new pedestrian bridge from Holme Street across the river, to provide better access to Fairfield.
Greening our valley
The final part of the report, entitled Greening our valley, looks at steps which can be taken to save energy, to generate energy, and to help prevent further flooding.
The full Action Plan will be available on Saturday, at the launch event and consultation being held in the Waterfront Hall (Hebden Bridge Town Hall), from 10am to 3pm. It is also available at the Partnership’s new website www.hbpartnership.org.uk, which includes a link to the online survey form, to allow comments and responses on the suggestions being made.
Andrew Bibby says that Saturday’s event is a free drop-in occasion, open to all. “We hope as many people as possible will take the chance to come in, meet members of the Partnership team and leave their comments,” he says. There will also be opportunities at set times to discuss particular issues.
Here is a timetable of next Saturday's launch event
11.15am: An accessible town: disabled people and HB
11.45am: Improving our station, improving our trains (run by Sustainable Transport group)
12.15pm: Promoting the visitor economy in HB
12.45pm: Getting the houses we need
1.15pm: HB Community Association & its role in the town (run by HB Community Assoc)
1.45pm: Traffic and people: exploring the possibility of shared space in Hebden Bridge
2.15pm: A park fit for the future (run by Friends of Calder Holmes Park)
The launch of the Action Plan comes at a time when the government is actively encouraging local communities to build ‘town teams’ to help the regeneration of their town centres. The Action Plan is a first step towards a possible Neighbourhood Plan, which under the recently passed Localism Act would allow the town (under the town council leadership) to produce a formal planning document for Hebden Bridge’s future development.