Re: opposition to conversion

The Director of Environmental Services
Northgate House

Planning ref: 99/00765/CUR

Dear Sir/Madam

I write to lodge an objection to the planning application ref 99/00765/CUR proposing the conversion of the Mount Skip Inn, Heights Road, Wadsworth, to two private dwellings. The local community has little in the way of facilities to provide social and community amenities. This application will permanently damage the already inadequate infrastructure available to this small rural community.

In the unitary development plan Section 2.4 Policy CF13 the council state that…. "The council will seek to safeguard the social and entertainment infrastructure when considering proposals for the redevelopment of these facilities which means they are lost from community use."

The Mount Skip Inn has long served as a focal point for the small local community based around the top of Wadsworth Lanes and Midgely. It has become increasingly important following the loss of public houses in Midgely and its loss would have a major impact on the local community.

Planning applications are often considered on matters of distance and in this case it is important that the council understand that although Hebden Bridge town centre is under 2 miles away, the road is very steep and many local people would not be capable of walking this distance to socialise. This is the case for some of the regular customers who have lost the use of the public house. The nearest public house in Old Town would involve a long walk over an unlit hill top lane without any footway. This is clearly unsuitable even in summer. In winter it is treacherous. Granting this application will effectively deny much of the local community the central focus of their social life.

Given the development of further housing immediately below the pub at the Daisy Bank site, and the major estate being built in Old Town there will be further demand for facilities in this area high above the valley. Surely the council should be looking to encourage the development of more facilities for the growing population of this area, not granting approval to remove already scant facilities.

This attempted development represents the worst aspects of an individual attempting to make a profit to the detriment of the local community. Indeed it is not the first case where the individual concerned has attempted to ride roughshod over Calderdale’s planning process.

When the pub was initially offered for sale Taylor’s Brewery of Keighley were keen for it to remain as a public house, given the important part it has played in the life of local people. Indeed many offers were taken from people hoping to continue to run it as a public house, a former tenant included. The present owner showed very quickly that he had no intention other than shutting down the pub to try to profit from property development.

So how will Calderdale represent our local community? Will it allow the planning regulations to be walked all over by this individual? Locals have watched over the period of the last two months as the pub has been stripped bare of its fittings. Make no mistake. This conversion has been underway for some time, long before the second planning application was lodged. The work is ongoing and the developer obviously has no respect for the concerns of the community or the powers of the planning department.

What next … an application for the development of the car park or adjoining land?

Calderdale Planning Department have made major decisions which have impacted massively on the rural nature of our local area….it is now surely time that they act to prevent the cynical removal of our scant social resources.

Yours faithfully