GARDEN STREET PUBLIC MEETING
"A very, significant threat to the
social and economic life of the town"
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Yesterday evening's meeting was called by Calder Valley Civic Trust and was very ably chaired by Gwen Goddard. Gwen told the meeting that she had spoken with the HB Times who explained that they would not be covering the public meeting but would cover the council meeting on Wednesday when they discussed Garden Street because "that would be balanced".
There was standing room only in the packed council chambers and all except one person had come to oppose the plan. The one person was the developer David Fletcher. A motion was put to the meeting that he be asked to leave after answering questions for half an hour. The point was made that some people felt able to talk more freely without him present. David Fletcher protested. "Nobody knows more about the scheme than I do." A vote was taken and the motion carried. Mr Fletcher subsequently described the meeting as undemocratic.
About a dozen or more questions were put to Mr Fletcher before he was asked to leave. From his reponses we now know the following:
- "The sale of the land is a commercial one. The council is not donating it."
- "If the council asks for more car parking spaces, they could have more."
- Residents will lose their parking places at Tann Pits.
- Disruption will continue for 2-3 years
- Mixed use developments like this are common, and is how councils often finance projects.
Many of the questions were of a technical nature, and it soon became clear that some of
those present, especially the civil engineers, were already more familiar with the details of the
proposals than Mr Fletcher. Some of his remarks were a little cryptic, eg, "Nobody knows if I have a commercial interest."
After David Fletcher's departure, there was a good natured and constructive discussion largely about the tactics for opposing the development. Anthony Rae pointed out that the £12 million scheme would only add a few more parking places and that Calderdale needs to be asked why they would want such a scheme, a development which is a "very, significant threat to the social and economic life of the town."
The meeting asked Anthony Rae to represent the objectors at the Hebden Royd Town Council meeting on Wednesday when the proposal will be considered by councillors. People were urged to attend and councillors who were present said that they would try and arrange for the matter to be heard first.
Other points made included
- The proposal would alter the centre of Hebden Bridge towards Garden Street and to the detriment of Market Street
- Do we really need more retail outlets when there are already empty shops in Hebden Bridge?
- Why not simply put a roof over the existing car park and have a second level?
- We do not need more expensive housing but more housing our children could afford.
- Th disruption will include the closure of Commercial Street for a lengthy period of time.
It was also agreed that sample letters of objection would be given out in the square on Saturday, between 11 an 12 and people volunteered to assist with this. The point was emphasised that individually written letters would have more notice taken of them.
Representations should be made to Calderdale Council by 15th February.
Hebweb Forum thread - from January 2008
Hebweb Forum thread - 2007 (50-60 messages, many extremely well informed and articulated)
Hebweb News (June 2007) - Parking options: Garden Street or the Station
Planning Watch - with links to documents and page to comment online.