Discussion Forum
Garden Street (2)

From Lindsay Smales
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

I hope that the good people of Hebden who are protesting against this proposed scheme are aware of how they, and therefore the town, are precieved by outsiders. Having spent 7 of the last ten years living in Hebden I despair of their negativity towards any proposed development in the town. I am sure they have all heard of Nimbyism but they have become a national example of taking this principle to ridiculous extremes.

The fact that this particular development proposal has been loaded with all the problems and issues associated with the future development of the town as a whole is indicative of the absence of an agreed plan for the settlement itself.

The Victorians who built the town to meet their needs were bold and ambitious. What I and others see now is a very very conservative group of naysayers who seem to be opposed to any kind of development and who are desparate to blame others for their inability to come up with any workable and positive solutions to the issues facing Hebden.

If you do not like any of the changes proposed for Hebden then stand for elaction, especially to CMBC. Recognise the forces that play upon the future evolution of this settlment and be willing to play a constructive part in its future- one that is more sophisticated than whingeing from the sidelines. If the people of Hebden continue to oppose any and every future development, then rest assured you will be passed aside by other place in the valley who embrace change and the town will become a quaint novelty visited by tourists who like the fact that its resudents want it to be pickled in the past. For this is what it is now being perceived as.

Posted by Andrew Hall
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Well, well, well! Lindsay Smales is protesting against the protesters! And now, here am I protesting against a protester to the protesters! You couldn't make it up!

It is more than patronising to suggest that people of Hebden Bridge may not be aware of the image of their town further afield. Some of us do read the national press and do actually venture beyond the Calder Valley! The vast majority of articles I have seen are mostly positive about the town, and this is reflected in the number of people who want to come and live here. Only the other day, one of our near neighbours, Holmfirth, was urged to aspire to the success and attraction of our town. And, for goodness' sake, they've got Nora Batty!

And how on earth is a few hundred people signing a petition against the Garden Street development, and a few comments on a local website "taking this principle (Nimbyism) to ridiculous extremes"? Ridiculous? Are you serious?

Impoverished arguments usually resort the the emotive word "nimbyism". Nimbyism is assumed to be a negative concept. Is it really? Surely if you can't express concerns about your own "back yard" - something which you may hold dear and have a certain knowledge about - then what can you do? Surely the objectors' concerns are about "putting their own house in order" and dealing with issues that affect them directly, and of which they have detailed knowledge.

To hold the Victorians up as a shining example of how things should be done is a little worrying. They were pretty brutal in imposing their views on a world where planning regulations were poor, if non-existent. They demolished fine earlier buildings, they decimated some of our great cathedrals with heavy and unnecessary restoration (stand up Sir George Gilbert Scott!), and they created pseudo-gothic structures with no real regard or feel for history or conservation. The one positive thing about them was that they built to last - unlike present developers, whose houses are not planned to survive for more than twenty five years.

So, should all the objectors stand for election on Calderdale Council, as Lindsay Smales suggests? Of course not! But we can make our views known to our elected members. That's what they're there for. And that's exactly what's happening.

Finally, Lindsay Smales exhorts the objectors "to play a constructive part in its (Hebden Bridge's) future - one that is more sophisticated than whingeing from the sidelines". That is derogatory and unworthy. Or perhaps Lindsay would prefer that people with concerns should join the great silent and mainly apathetic majority, keep schtumm, and allow developers free rein over the town we love and cherish.

Posted by Graham Barker
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

I agree 100 per cent with Andrew Hall, and particularly like his comments on nimbyism. Lindsay Smales might like to consider this possibility: that because Hebden Bridge has for some years been a magnet for opportunist developers, its residents have become more skilled than most at distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable projects.

Posted by Anne H
Thursday, 24 April 2008

I think Lindsay is very bold to make these comments on this forum. I suspect that there are indeed a lot of people who perceive the local protests as a negative thing, but most of them probably do not frequent this forum.

For instance, I know that this view is held by many of the elderly people in Hebden who have lived here most or all of their lives and don't like 'youngsters' in their 40s and 50s telling them what their town does or doesn't need. Also many people living in other parts of Calderdale would love to have developers investing in their town to the same extent as they do at the moment in Hebden and I'm sure would give them a warmer welcome.

Going further afield, I'm not sure. I suspect most people believe what they see in the media and most of it is very positive about Hebden Bridge. Architects and developers, on the other hand, might see it very differently and it could limit future investment in the town, IMO.

Posted by Joseph S
Thursday, 24 April 2008

I think Lindsay makes an interesting point. The nimbyism in this town is sometimes uncomfortable and we object routinely to several developments that have actually been quite good for the town.

However, Garden Street does not appear to be positive for anyone else than the developers themselves, and until I see some better information on the proposal, surely the sensible thing to do is to object? I'm not sure that is nimbyism.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Thursday, 24 April 2008

Actually, Lindsay, what other people think about Hebden Bridge is irrelevant. Accusing people of whingeing nimbyism may be good fun, may even have an element of truth, but in this case is simply ad hominem - you know, attack the arguer rather than deal with the argument.

The point is that change happens, that Hebden Bridge does change and will continue to change. The only issue is the appropriateness of proposed changes. The proposed scheme in Garden St is inappropriate because it doesn't actually do what it was supposed to do. End of argument, really.

Posted by Jacob G
Thursday, 24 April 2008

I wholeheartedly agree with Rev Tony and Mr Hall's posts. Lindsay Smales' posting is preposterous. What on earth would his students make of his ill-informed, badly researched and frankly, offensive missive. Hebden Bridge is home to many recent developments; Mayroyd Mill, Hebble End, Pecket Well Mill, Melbourne Street and the forthcoming 58 dwellings on the former Mytholm Mill site being the major ones. I know many, many people from outside Hebden Bridge, all of whom perceive it as an interesting, attractive and forward-thinking town. Inappropriate town-centre developments are not necessary to encourage any of these positive attributes to flourish.

Posted by Martin F
Saturday, 26 April 2008

I think we should congratulate Anthony Rae on and thank him for the ten questions he has submitted to Calderdale Council.

The only problem is that if he gets any sort of answers that actually correspond to the questions and (heaven forbid) answer them! the rather shaky foundations (please forgive the pun) on which this ridiculous application is based will be exposed.

Posted by Anthony Rae
Sunday, 27 April 2008

I know I shouldn't bother with this one - and normally I would agree completely with Tony Buglass' abjuring of the ad hominem response - but Lindsay's is an odd intervention indeed into a community planning discussion from someone who works and teaches in the discipline of 'urban development and environmental management', and on 'best practice principles for community engagement and in making good places' (see here and here).

All the usual cliches and caricatures are trotted out - nimbyism (whatever that means in this context); references back to Victorian town making - I've personally worked on the regeneration of the very first Victorian city, Manchester, so I know about that, thank you. It's something to do with scale, Lindsay. And appropriateness; '.. their inability to come up with any workable and positive solutions to the issues facing Hebden' - just the opposite. There are plenty of those, on parking for example; '.. Recognise the forces that play upon the future evolution of this settlment[sic]'; actually, it's precisely because we do recognise the forces that we're objecting; '.. then rest assured you will be passed aside by other place in the valley who embrace change' - yet another cliche, and the stereotypical developers' pressurising; Recognise the forces that play upon the future evolution of this settlment[sic]'; actually, it's precisely because we do recognise the forces that we're objecting; '.. then rest assured you will be passed aside [sic] by other place [sic] in the valley who embrace change' - yet another cliche, and the stereotypical developers' pressurising.

And so on and on; frankly it's embarrassing. As others have pointed out, all ill-informed assertion and no dealing with the substantive issues. If this is the quality of the professional arguments in favour of the Garden St scheme then I would despair if I were a supporter.

And I wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of Lindsay's 'best practice'!

Posted by Paul D
Monday, 28 April 2008

Oh dear Mr. Rae

"I know I shouldn't bother with this one..."

But then you do.

Wouldn't it be a little more contructive to address some of the key points raised instead of grandstanding about which cities you've been paid to improved?

Scale and appropriateness are all part of the mix, but surely what you refuse to address is the extent to which valid and useful opposition to developments is becoming something of a specialist issue in this town.

If sections of the local community, rightly or wrongly, believe that planning and the process itself (including opposing plans) is something done by 'others', then planning remains something that is 'done' to them. So far from embarassing, this post touches on some crucial issues.

My views on the 'regeneration' of Hebden Bridge can be summed up by two words: twee followed by an expletive of your choice. It disturbs me that as one of its cheerleaders you appear to hold the view that you alone have sufficient aesthetic judgement to determine what is and isn't 'good' or 'appropriate' here. Even if you could trace your roots here back to the conquest, this would still makes you a slightly scary person in my view - a bit quick to claim the expertise, a bit slow to back down. Like Calderdale MBC really.

So back to the substantive issues. What Lindsay raises is the possibility that opposition, in itself necessary and useful to the planning process, has got out of kilter. In particular there is perhaps less effort directed to securing what many people need, more on opposing what some people want.

If we are to strike a balance, then isn't there a need to see if and how genuine opposition can disempower or even alientate others? If opposition to numerous developments is creating a perception of the town that is detrimental to it, then shouldn't that be discussed?

The redevelopment at Garden Street may be an opportunity to meet the needs of some whilst respecting the views of many. I have been impressed by the quality of the debate and the material used to draw attention to its weaknesses. But - and let's be frank - it's currently a sodding car park.

From Lindsay Smales
Monday, 28 April 2008

My submission to the debate on proposals to develop key parts of Hebden Bridge was designed to elicit a response and was intended to get those currently concerned with the latest contenscious scheme, Garden Street, to think of the wider picture and to consider, amongst other things, how the town is being perceived by outsiders. In this respect my contribution has been successful.

The suggestion made that how others view a settlement and its people is not important flies in the face of all the research, my own included, into the links between economic development and the image of place. In this regard I believe that Hebden is at an important crossroads.

Hebden is rightly seen as a hugely attractive and successful town with lots to offer those in search of a convivial lifestyle or visitor experience. However, it is gaining a reputation as a settlement with no coherent plan for its future, sustainable development. A consequence of this is the manner in which proposals to develop important sites are subject to vociferous campaigns by local articulate people who seem to be able to find any number of objections to the plans on the table.

Anthony Rae refers, quite rightly, to my experience of ‘best practice’ in urban planning. One of the most important lessons is to ensure that a community such as Hebden has a strategy for engaging with development proposals that is pro-active rather than re-active. Without such an agreed, community-endorsed plan for the whole settlement, much time and creative energy will be spent responding to this and that proposal when it comes along. It is therefore hardly surprising that, in the absence of such a holistic plan, schemes like those for Garden Street generate the type of negative reactions they do.

I suggest that the energy expended on drawing up objections to the latest in a long line of proposals for various sites in the town might be better deployed in working towards an agreed framework for its sustainable development. It is against such a plan, especially if it is adopted as the ‘Supplementary Planning Document’ for Hebden, that any future proposals can be judged and evaluated.

By all means challenge the proposals for Garden Street, and get the would-be developers, designers and the Council to answer your questions and justify their proposals. But please think a bit more creatively as to what the community can do to ensure any future plans meet with their collective needs and aspirations.

I have recently worked with the people of Elland on the production of a just such a plan for their town (it can be found on the CMBC website). Although some of the ideas and principles have been watered down by the local authority, it is still a document which can help shape and guide the development of the place in a sustainable manner that has been generally agreed and adopted by its residents and their representatives.

Similarly, how many of the people of Hebden have seen or read the UCVR’s Tourism Action Plan the Upper Calder Valley – now some 3 years old? I would draw everyone’s attention to the ‘Action Plans’ for Hebden Bridge. These were drawn up by me in direct consultation with those with a personal or professional interest in preserving, enhancing and promoting tourism in Hebden and the Upper Valley. It could be seen as a starting point for further deliberations on many of the issues currently face the town and the Valley.

Finally, and for the record, when Studio Baad and David Fletcher’s company were originally chosen as the preferred developers for the Garden Street site, I worked with them on a detailed strategy for consulting the local community and key stakeholders on any proposals for its future development. This strategy was based on my extensive experience of working with many communities across the region on this type of important initiative and was an example of the sort of ‘best practice’ Mr Rae suggests he would not like to be on the receiving end of!

I was dismayed to hear that, some while after being in receipt of my framework for working with local people on these issues, Studio Baad went ahead with their own ‘consultation day’ – inviting all to see their plans at Linden Mill and then, apparently, getting upset at the reactions this badly managed and inappropriate event provoked. This represented the opposite of what I proposed.

So yes, I am on the side of communities having a considered and meaningful input on the way forward for their place and places. It saddens me to see a town and its people that I know and love staggering from one development issue to the next without a coherent plan.

Please learn the lesson for this latest contenscious proposal and think seriously about how to focus the community’s energies into a more productive and sophisticated plan for the town as a whole. Over to you.

Posted by Graham Barker
Monday, 28 April 2008

Lindsay Smales, who so clearly wants to be the saviour of Hebden Bridge, undermines his own case for ‘an agreed, community-endorsed plan for the whole settlement’ when he tells us how his ‘framework for working with local people’ was ignored by Studio Baad. Like other academics with only one foot in the real world, he doesn’t quite get it that life hardly ever plays out according to the written plan. That’s why there is at best only limited point in having one; those chasing a fast buck will always seek ways of ignoring or subverting it and hey presto - suddenly lots of opposition! Oh no! But never mind - a ‘coherent plan’ for a whole town does look ever so good on the old CV.

And another thing - if he’s lived in Hebden Bridge for so long, where was Mr Smales when this thread first went round the block?

Re Paul D’s posting - if he’s going to have a pop at Anthony Rae, wouldn’t it be nice if he had the courage to use his full name? As for the rest of his argument - what on earth is he on about?

Posted by Anthony Rae
Sunday, 27 April 2008

Well at least these two postings have told us one thing: their authors are intermixing two quite separate parts of the planning framework - spatial planning and development control. Those of us who already appreciate the difference know that we will have to wait a number of years before there is a 'town plan' for Hebden Bridge to argue over within the Local Development Framework, and that before then there isn't the opportunity as suggested to develop a Supplementary Planning Document for the town (of the type just adopted for Elland - see here). Why? Because Calderdale have indicated they won't be contemplating any more SPDs until the LDF Core Strategy is in place, which is 3 years away.

Until that opportunity comes around again, calls to 'think a bit more creatively as to what the community can do to ensure any future plans meet with their collective needs and aspirations' etc etc are at best premature, and otherwise a diversion from more immediate tasks.

The ultimate argument here is indeed about 'sustainable development', but I'm not sure we're applying the same meaning to the term. Garden Street isn't about SD, but just another example of developer driven gigantism that menaces a small town with a booming (?) property market to exploit: Brown's site (already approved); Crows Nest (ejected), and now ...

Underlying these postings is an act of condescension: that they are somehow able to characterise the motivations and understanding of those people who are objecting to a single proposal for development. The caricatures used (Nimbys etc) are those typically deployed by promoters of a development when they don't want to engage with the substantive issues. So, Lindsay, if you want to be an advocate for the benefits of a community planning exercise, it's not really 'best practice' to start by demeaning the positions of some of the participants, even unintentionally.

I'm glad we share the same view about the so-called 'consultation exercise' undertaken by the developer. If you explored the rest of the 'case against Garden Street' – helpfully encapsulated in the 10 Questions letter to Calderdale's chief executive – you would appreciate the many more substantive reasons to oppose the scheme.

And when I have the opportunity to reread Lindsay's Upper Calder Valley Tourism Action Plan (I've been refiling my archive recently so now typically it's lost!) I'll be able to comment on what it might bring to the discussion.

From Jacob B
Tuesday, 29 April 2008

I really don't know why Lindsay Smales has bothered to respond. His description of his initial - rude - posting as 'designed to elicit a response', is as ridiculous as the posting itself. Furthermore, his contradictory, unfocussed and totally biased reply is typified by the process he describes for consultation on the Garden Street Scheme. The moment his carefully targeted approach - designed, no doubt, to find in favour of the development - was opened up to 'all', it was deemed by Smales to have failed. Best practice, indeed.

From Lindsay Smales
Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Anthony Rae is right to say that under the new planning system it will be three years before a ‘Local Development Framework’ for Calderdale will be produced and patronisingly wrong to suggest that ‘those of us who appreciate the difference’ between spatial planning and development control somehow know better and that the local community should sit on its hands in the meantime.

All the evidence suggests that the currently Conservative controlled CMBC think planning ahead in a proactive way is something that only communists do. My point is that the Hebden community should recognise its own ability and power and take things into their own hands. They do not have to wait three years. There are many instances where local residents have taken the initiative and come up with their own vision for a sustainable future for their town/area.

Have a look here and find their Headingley Renaissance document to see what can be done outside the planning system. This is the product of a local community recognising they have serious problems and taking control of their own future development. This innovative community document has not been adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document by Leeds City Council, but is now seen as a powerful tool in helping local people take control of what happens in their place – and was even used in a Planning Inquiry prior to its full publication to demonstrate why an insensitive application by a developer should be rejected because it did not meet the expressed needs and aspirations of local people.

My point is that, beyond the Garden Street fiasco, what happens next?

Of course the developers of this scheme should be held to account. Of course CMBC should also justify their involvement in this scheme and any likely impacts it may have. But, to re-iterate my earlier point, how can the energies and creativity of those who wish to see Hebden evolve in a sensitive, sustainable and appropriate way in the future, given the pressures its faces, be channelled in a more constructive manner?

This is the really big question.

Posted by Anthony Rae
Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Lindsay – In theory I wouldn't object to what you are suggesting in terms of preparing for the future. I am not certain that committing our time and resources to such an unofficial and informal process would be worthwhile; but it might.

But what has this got to do with Garden Street? Except that the proposals of the developer would comprehensively pre-empt any such community planning or town plan exercise, to an extraordinary degree. The scale and potential impacts of the scheme are so substantial that there wouldn't be much left to talk about.

So if you are in favour of such an exercise, you ought to be supporting the objections in order to prevent such pre-emption.

Then let's remember that we have already just been through an Upper Valley master planning exercise in the UCVR process; and the Hebden Royd partnership did something restricted to Hebden Bridge at about the same time. None of this stopped Calderdale Council preparing and promoting a wholly inadequate development brief for the Garden Street site which they just happened to own and will benefit from; indeed some would say it has provided them with the appropriate cover for their actions.

Just maybe a reason to be cautious about what happens when major sites in the middle of a development honeypot are put into play, by masterplans or any other apparently well-intentioned exercise.

Posted by Laura Wright
Wednesday, 30 April 2008

In relation to the proposed Garden St development: Now that spring has finally come to Hebden and I have started doing my garden, it occurred to me this evening that not only will I have my nice green view of the canal, park and Fairfield hillside completely blocked by a large building directly to the front of my house, but I will also no longer be able to watch the sunset at the other side of my house either because of another seven storey building a few yards away erected by Mr Fletcher and friends. No sorry not in my back yard thanks.

From Penny T
Wednesday, 30 April 2008

As a supporter of the Garden Street Proposals, and having followed this tread for some time, I would like to give my opinion/ reaction to the 10 ‘Questions’ (actually it was 11 but we should over look that small fact)

Read Penny T's answer's to Anthony Rae's questions

From Joseph S
Thursday, 1 May 2008

Penny T, Lindsay Smales, Paul D..... I'm objecting because I've not seen any decent/detailed pictures of the project and can't tell from the images supplied what its going to look like. I think it would be foolhardy to support something without seeing those pictures- so I objected. I think it would be foolish to support the project without knowing what it is that you are supporting.

If you've seen some better images please point us to where we might find them. Thanks.

From Martin F
Monday, 5 May 2008

Many thanks to Penny for her answer to question 1 of Anthony Rae's 10 questions, that concerning the number of extra parking spaces that will be available if the application goes ahead.

I am particularly grateful for her stating that residents, friends of residents, traders and visitors to the retail premises will be barred from using cars in Hebden Bridge, therefore not using any of the 81 'extra' parking spaces.

I think I'll buy some shares in Northern Rail.

From Joseph S
Thursday, 8 May 2008

Dear Penny T, Lindsay Smales, Paul D... I'm sorry my last post was poorly written and might be the reason that you have not responded. To clarify;

1. The drawings that we've seen so far for the proposal have not been detailed enough for us to make a considered judgement.
2. It would be foolish to support a proposal without seeing what it entails.
3. You appear to be supporting (to a greater or lesser extent) the proposal. Have you therefore seen more detailed drawings, and if so can you point us to them?

Thanks and apologies for my last unclear post.

From Penny T
Friday, 9 May 2008

Martin F: I never stated that anyone would be barred form using the parking spaces. I was refering to the well publidhed UDP, that states: 'Parking in New Development 9.62 Within the town centres of Calderdale the application of the new maximum parking requirements could have serious consequences for traffic congestion, amenity, conservation efforts, regeneration, use of valuable town centre land, or compromise efforts to encourage travel by alternative modes of transport. As a result the Council will not expect developers to provide parking with their developments within these centres.'

I expect that traders, shoppers, visitors and residents will use the parking. After all, that's what they are there for. and tere will be 136 spaces for them to do so.

Joseph S, I have not seen any images that you have not. Perhaps this is simply a matter of interpretation. I feel excited about the prospect of the proposed development and I can see the benfits it will bring to Hebden Bridge, so therefor I am giving it my full support.

From Paul D
Friday, 9 May 2008

I haven't seen any other images either Joseph. My main point was that the objections are many and varied, to conflate them and then to use them to oppose development per se is, in my view, a serious mistake. So these phrases being thrown about, such as 'developer driven gigantism' have no real value, other than perhaps alerting us to the career opportunities opening up in protest.

We have developers seeking to develop various sites across town - big deal, so what's new? Some are bad, some are awful, some are really quite creative.

I'm more wary of those adopting positions of aesthetic superiority, or who claim to have the only vision of 'sustainable development' for the town. We need perspective, my view won't be blocked of course, but it's a car park on prime land and anyone who thought it was going to stay that way hasn't really been paying attention. The architects are also pretty cool, I trust them to come up with something appropriate in an urban landscape. It can't be any worse than the town centre 'regeneration' foisting it's hateful 18th century 'vision' on us all. The only creative aspect of that dog's dinner was the commissioning process for the artwork. At least the professionals are invovled this time - fewer replica gaslamps one suspects.

From Martin F
Friday, 9 May 2008

You said that "Thats (sic) an increase of 81". You obviously mean a net increase over what we have at the moment. As you are a supporter of this scheme, it seems that you made the above statement to show one of the benefits of the scheme: "Look Hebden Bridge, (you don't seem to realise it, but) you will be getting 81 more spaces!". Have you 'forgotten' the number of spaces that will be used up by the residents of the apartments, their visitors, occupiers of the retail premises and extra visitors to Hebden for the purpose of going to the retail premises? I would have rather hoped that you would have borne these in mind, and, therefore, when you did not include them in your 136-55 calculation, I thought that you must have some information that the rest of us do not.

If you don't, I feel that the other figure quoted of about 15 extra spaces is 'more realistic'.

From Joseph S
Saturday, 10 May 2008

Paul D & Penny T. I'm all for development & taking the town forward. I've never objected against a proposal in my life. However I genuinely can't see what this one will look like from the drawings. I sort of think that you two can't either judging by your comments....

"The architects are also pretty cool, I trust them to come up with something appropriate in an urban landscape." Well no actually; if they were pretty cool they'd have provided decent pictures of the project. & "Perhaps this is simply a matter of interpretation" No again.... its just a question of not being able to see what the project is going to look like from the drawings provided.

Either you are moles for the developers/ have a vested interest, which is fine and all part of the process i suppose- it would be good if you identified yourselves as such. Or you are blindy supporting a development when you can't truly & honestly see what its going to look like, which is as I intimated before, foolish.

Put some proper drawings out there and lets have a proper debate about it.

See also

10 Questions for the Calderdale Chief Executive

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

Planning Watch