Discussion Forum
Garden Street

From Zilla Brown
Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Have people realised what is being proposed for Garden Street car park?See courier report online.

A proposal by Studio Baard has apparently been accepted. I for one was under the impression that none of the 3 schemes were definately chosen in October 2005. They have now applied for planning permission to rebuild the 150-year-old wall that supports Commercial Street, the main road to Keighley.

But also
"The developer plans to construct five blocks of flats on the site, rising from four to seven storeys with 80 underground public parking spaces, accessed by a lift, 11 at street level to replace the 55 currently available and 45 more spaces for residents."

"The amount of development has to be appropriate for the location and must also support the cost of the car park and repairs to the retaining wall," according to the Studio Baad report.

Why repair the wall at all if its OK? The proposal was supposed only to provide more parking for the town-if this goes through we only seem to gain 25 spaces and a lot of inappropriate development. Seven stories high - the skies the limit!

From Mike Jennings
Wednesday, 16 January 2008


Replies in a letter from Andy Edwards Acting Head of Planning and Regeneration September 5th 2007 - the wall
"was considered fit for purpose and the Council had no plans to undertake any repair/upgrading work . . . There is no suggestion that immediate work is needed on the retaining wall",

Could it be that Hebden Royd Development LLP have another reason for wanting the wall demolished? Do they need to create more space by encroaching onto the grass verge on Commercial Street? If so, has this land been sold by the Council as part of the developoment package?

Please attend the proposed meeting on Monday 28th January 7.30 Council Offices Hebden Bridge for all those who wish to object. More details to be posted on the web by The Hebden Bridge Civic Trust.

From Frank W
Thursday, 17 January 2008

Mike Jennings is quite right. It's all eyewash. The Courier talks about (unnamed) engineers who say that the wall is "in very poor condition". Anyone who has lived here for more than a couple of years will remember the extensive works carried out on the wall.

Surely the Civic Trust should contact the Courier and request a reporter at the meeting on the 28th so that we can be told who these 'engineers' are.

It would also be an idea for the Civic Trust to contact Yorkshire TV's Calendar and the BBC.

It all (still) smells a bit.

From Mike Jennings
Thursday, 17 January 2008

After reading the Hebden Bridge Times (17th Jan) I feel that I must comment on the phrase "scheme to provide much needed car parking in Hebden Bridge." No-one could disagree with this sentiment but does this £12.4 million pound scheme address this problem? The figues provided i.e. 80 underground public car parking spaces, plus 11 at street level = 91 replacing the 55 already in place - a net gain of 36.

Also there are 45 spaces for residents but 48 apartments plus shops etc. It would seem to me that demand for parking will be increased not alleviated.

Reminder -The Development Brief of May 2004 para 8.11 says "The scheme proposal is to maximise the amount of public car parking space". I would welcome any thoughts on this controversial scheme

From Frank W
Thursday, 17 January 2008

I haven't read the HB Times, but on the basis if what you say about 48 apartments plus shops, 45 spaces are not going to be enough.

This is another aspect that does not add up, let alone the £ 344,000 cost per 'extra' parking space, and why I think we should open up the matter to a wider audience.

From Janice S
Friday, 18 January 2008

The additional public car parking provided by the proposed development is even less than 36 if the Tanpits garages are demolished and the other spaces in Tanpits are lost. Currently Tanpits provides spaces for about 11 cars (if they park sensibly!). In the cordoned off area, there are 4 garages and 2 parking spaces. In the accessible area there are 5 spaces, making 11 in total. So, assuming these go, the new development will provide 25 extra public spaces.

There must be easier and cheaper ways of getting another 25 car parking spaces...

From Joseph S
Saturday, 19 January 2008

I'm a bit lost on this now. Can someone just clarify where we are up to? Is there an application approved, or an approved supplier or whatever you do with these things? Or is it all still a bit pie in the sky at the moment?

From John Rhodes
Monday, 21 January 2008

This is not a car park plan. Currently there are 55 spaces. After development there will be 136. But residents will need spaces; 48 homes will have, say, 1.3 cars each. Allowing one car for each of the offices and one for each of the retail units (at a very modest estimate) takes up 76 spaces giving 5 additional spaces, at best. This development by Messrs Fletcher and Bintliff has little to do with solving the car parking problem.

There is no shortage of shops in Hebden. Local shops catering for residents appear to struggle against the pressure from supermarkets. Three recent casualties are Lord-Dales, the White Lion chippie and the photographers. We don’t need more twee little shoppes.

This proposal appears to take no account of the plan to build more shops on the fire station site. On Market Street the latest shop to close was the sewing machine shop. The position there is extremely fragile. Building more shops in the centre will further shift the balance away from Market Street and may tip it over into dereliction.

The car parking problem has to recognise the segmented demand. Commuters need more parking at the station; Calderdale Council should buy out the coal yard and turn that into a low-rise multi-storey. Philip Bintliff says parking should be hidden; well that’s out of the way. Visitors can be catered for by a park and ride scheme at Mayroyd. Residents need parking and extending parking at the Valley Road site instead of providing more shops would be helpful; as would re-siting the market on a permanent basis.

Messrs Fletcher and Bintliff may want this development; our town doesn’t need it.

From Jim Band
Monday, 21 January 2008


"From what I can see, more new shops have opened on Market Street than have closed, over the past few years. They may not be the kind of shops that you want, but they seem to be doing very well. Or at least, far from fragile. This is a very weak argument against the Garden Street development."

You may not need more 'twee little shoppes', but clearly other people want them. I certainly don't need a sewing shop, or another chippy, and the photography place always looked like a business waiting to fail. The businesses you are mourning the loss of were probably just no longer viable, but that does not mean the town as a whole is in economic decline.

The most appropriate solution to maximising the additional car parking that the scheme would generate, would be to make some or all of the dwellings car-free. This has proven a very successful approach in many locations around the country.

Also, any new retail spaces can only impact on Market Street if they are successful, and even that is by no means guaranteed, and surely reaching very hard for another new objection to the scheme.

From Kathy C
Tuesday, 22 January 2008

It would appear that unfortunately Hebden Bridge is about to go the same way as Sowerby Bridge (tower blocks) and even the City of York (more homes than facilities). How can it happen? Well, the way I see it is this. Lets pick a nice "newsworth" and "popular" "quirky" town and then build blocks of "flats" with "parking access for residents and visitors" (call the "flats" "luxury appartments") - which then become "lets" which then remain empty. Sell the concept to the "locals" by suggesting there will be "added benefits such as more car parking for them and visitors to the area (thus bringing more business to their town) and more shops (to add to the economy of the town)" then "start the building works, causing massive disruption and risk by closing roads and access for considerable time (but set a timescale that will be broken by around 6-8 months due to "unforseen circumstances"). When work is complete the "luxury apartments" will become "lets" (due to pricing) and even when "let" will require car access for tenants/owners and their visitors. This will, in turn lead to more issues such as safe access and egress from the buildings/car park and access to the "shops". The additional new "shops" themselves will put pressure on the towns already busy and sometimes strugging shops but who cares because "surely we want "more choice" and thus "more shops" will give us this "choice" so we "must be happy".

"Visitors" (and "Locals") in the town will be promised "a new exciting development" but within a few years (if not sooner) it will more likely be an immovable eyesore but the "developers" and others "making money out of this scheme" will be long-gone.

I understand, that this scheme, whatever it is about is most definitely not about improved Car Parking and we must remember once it is built, there is no turning back.

From David Spencer
Thursday, 24 January 2008

In light or recent event, can I point out that its a brave person who uses an underground car park that will be several meters below the waterline, in an area known to be a floodplain, just 200m from a river, in a town know to flood regularly, at the bottom of an increasingly paved-over hill.

Not to mention a brave workman who digs the whole in the first place. And given the scale of the proposed earthworks, lets just hope for several months of very dry weather.....imagine the scale of underpinning required to replace that massive wall, and support a seven storey building....and then imagine a flood filling up the rather large hole part way through the job. (£30m estimated by a local civil engineer )

Does HB really need 25 extra spaces at such a cost... no, but it seems the delveopers really want a £12million project at any cost (to the locals)

From Jim Band
Thursday, 24 January 2008


Both Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Bintliff have been involved in developments in and around Hebden Bridge. Both are far from "long gone", and both appear to have a long-term commitment to Hebden Bridge, since both are involved in businesses which are based in the town.

And describing the development as an "immovable eyesore" is merely stating your own personal opinion on the how the proposal looks. Welcome as your opinion is, not everyone shares this view. If there was an immovable eyesore award for Hebden Bridge, a deserving nominee would surely be Garden Street car park as it is now.

From Anthony Rae
Thursday, 24 January 2008

I'm afraid I don't have time to add a substantive comment to this thread at the moment (and then I'm out of action until Monday) but simply to restate some obvious immediate points:

  • You can now see the main planning application scheme designs on the Calderdale Council website. Go back to the homepage of this site, and then follow the link to 'Planning Watch'. Under 'Main proposal' click on 'Documents'. Of the long list of files to download: of those marked 'drawings' in the lefthand column, you want in particular to see those called 'Brief and Design Development' and 'Floor Plans' in the right hand column. A limited amount of information about car parking is contained the Supporting Information documents Transport Statements 1 and 2. Finally a general textual description, and what purports to be an account of the 'community consultation' exercise in July 2007 is in the Design & Access statement almost at the bottom of the list).

  • There are a considerable number of letters of objection, and a front page article, in the HB Times this week.

  • And there is the Civic Trust meeting this Monday 28th Jan at 7.30pm in the Council Offices, providing an opportunity to express your views.

From Jim Band
Friday, 25 January 2008

I'm not really sure what Mr. Spencer is talking about, or where his estimated costs are drawn from, but I do know that only the most reckless developer would embark upon this project based upon those figures. The developers involved are experienced, well-advised, and if Development Control think otherwise the project will not proceed any further.

I do not recall Garden Street car park being anything close to underground, either now, or in this much debated proposal, nor has it ever been at risk of being flooded.

From Frank W
Friday, 25 January 2008

In the past few days I have met a few people who were not aware of the plans for Garden Street.

Take 15 minutes this weekend to put notes through, say, 10 or 12 of your neighbours' doors to tell them of the plans, direct them to the Forum and ask them to attend the meeting on Monday.

You never know. We may find someone else, apart from Jim Band, who is in favour of the scheme.

From Mel W
Friday, 25 January 2008

Concise Oxford English Dictionary 11th Edition

n noun a thing that is very ugly, especially a building.

1-0 to Kathy C.

From Charlie O
Friday, 25 January 2008

It is probably a complete coincidence but did anyone know that David Fletcher, along with John Bintliff and David John Frangleton are the 3 directors of ‘The Garden Management Company Limited’ Registered no. 05973918.

According to Creditsafe (Online credit reports) the purpose of the company is ‘Residents Property Management’.

Is this a case of ‘Counting chickens?

If the scheme goes ahead, would residents become this company’s customers?. If so, would that not be a conflict of interest, for at least one of the above?

To quote Private Eye ‘I think we should be told’.

From Cllr Janet Battye
Friday, 25 January 2008

At last we are getting to see the plans for this: Calderdale planners tell me that copies will be available within the next few days so I haven't yet had a chance to examine the detail.

But my concerns remain as before. Do we need this type of development ? Will it do more harm than good ?

The original idea for this was to provide more public car parking spaces but it looks as though these have now been relegated to a basement and there are not many additional spaces.

But on top of this it sounds as though this is an ambitious development, and the retaining wall will need rebuilding.
The development is likely to overshadow neighbouring buildings, and given the scale of it, would take a long time (2 years ?) to complete. This is likely to cause yet more disruption to the middle of HB.

I have long proposed that the most straightforward approach to providing a significant number of new car parking spaces and to improve integrated transport, is to build a multi-storey carpark on the station yard.

I am also asking Planning Officers that if they are minded to recommend giving planning permission, that the decision be taken by the Planning Cttee because of the importance of this site, and the fact that the public should have their opportunity to make their views known directly to the Cttee.

From Charlie O
Friday, 25 January 2008

More information on The Garden Management Company Limited, courtesy of the creditsafe online credit reports company:

it was originally incorporated on the 20th of October 2006 (unknown initial name) the name was changed to the above on the 24th of October 2006. The three directors are as named in my previous item - they were all appointed on the same day, the 20th of October 2006 (there are no previous/other directors listed). According to Companies House "Garden" has not yet filed any accounts, their first set of accounts will be for the period between October 2006 and October 2007. The company has until August 2008 to file these.

The registered office is: 6th floor, Brazenose House West, Brazenose Street, Manchester M2 5FE. The telephone number is listed as "TPS" which (according to creditsafe) means that the company has registered with the Telephone Preference Service to not receive any calls. This seems a strange step for a (functioning ???) commercial company to take, if it wishes to do any business.

According to the Royal Mail Postcode/Address Finder webpage the only company registered at that postcode is Mitchell Charlesworth a firm of chartered accountants and business advisors.

To a cynic it may appear that this company is not yet in operation and has been formed with the sole purpose of offering a service to residents of (if the plans go ahead) the development.

Some people may (unjustifiably) say that certain people should have declared their interest in a "residence property management" company whilst working on the Garden Street project, and whilst promoting it to the residents of Hebden Bridge.

From Andrew Hall
Friday, 25 January 2008

agree entirely with Kathy C. Having waded through the application documents, the one that I keep returning to is this.

I don't think this is good design. Looks a bit like a mis-shapen loaf of bread or a jelly that's gone wrong. I hate the way it looms and sags over Commercial Street, incidentally nicking that nice bit of grass verge. I'm told it is meant to combine tradition with modernity. What that seems to mean is that you can bung any rubbish building up, put a bit of stone facing on it as a sop to the traditionalists, and hope to get away with it.

And no - it does nothing at all to alleviate car parking in town. In fact with new shops and residences planned, it will probably have a negative effect.

We've got until 15th Feb to comment on this proposal.

From Mike Jennings
Friday, 25 January 2008

Point of information.

Hebden Bridge Town Council will consider both applications, 07/01410/CAC and 07/01409/OUT, at their meeting on Wednesday 30th January. The Town Clerk has refused to delay discussion of these applications, in spite of much of the information not being available to the public until earlier this week. My concern is that we as residents, together with councillors, cannot possibly have had time to read and digest the mass of information generated by Studio BAAD. As there are 26 items on the agenda for this meeting, with 18 planning applications, how much informed and meaningful discussion will take place. This is possibly the biggest development in the town's history. It deserves more time for consultation, discussion and debate.

From Penny T
Friday, 25 January 2008

No more mundane architectural contributions for Hebden Bridge(I mean honestly, who thought it was a good idea to build a new building to mimic that of an old canal side mill that has been converted?)

I have followed your links to the Calderdale website, and unlike some people, have studied the submitted plans. I love the Idea.
Currently, Garden Street is a mess. It’s the place I avoid taking my out of town visitors. It is a big empty eyesore of a hole, and we have to pay to park on it!

As I understand, the retaining wall as it stands now was the back wall to some old croft type houses. When the houses were cleared, the wall remained, and that's what is holding up Commercial Street. There was not as much traffic (or as heavy) when the wall was built, so how can it be in a suitable condition for modern usage?

Having read this thread for a few weeks now, it seems that the basis for most argument seems to be that

a) People feel their opinion was not heard and they want it heard on here. Well get over it. If your ideas were not carried out, it's probably because they were no good. These Architects and Engineers are professionals and study for years to become experts. You wouldn't argue with a doctor's or heart surgeon's opinion.

b) People have personal objections of the developers. Again; get over it. If a person makes money out of the work they do, after investing money, why should we have a problem with that? this is the commercial world we live in.

c) People feel we (the public) will be losing a public plot of land to private developers. O.K. Who among you nay-Sayers actually uses this land for anything other than parking? I understand that you will be able to still park there when work is completed, as well as enjoying the pocket parks, shop, work, swim, live. Isn't that much better?

d) People want the parking elsewhere. Why? Why lose yet another area of land for parking? it seems this scheme isn’t taking up land near the station or the Memorial Gardens (honestly, who suggested that?) It simply increases parking where there already is parking.

e) Fears that people living in the Crofts will lose views or be disrupted. You don’t have a right to a view you don't own, it's not yours. To those of you living in the Crofts and complaining, it wasn’t so long ago that people objected to your homes. The building of your homes caused disruption and loss of views. Don’t be hypocritical.

f) Involving the press. This isn't some giant conspiracy. It is simply a matter of aesthetic opinion It seems some people want to get their faces on TV or in the paper regardless.

g) Mike Jennings in the HB Times (Jan 24th 2008) calls on concerned to come and voice their opinion at a meeting. Why not invite people who are in support of it too? Why are you only entitled to have your say, if you agree with Mike Jennings?
This is a longer rant than I had anticipated, but I felt it important that the voice of support was raised on this forum.

I do have one last comment, and it's to Mel W regarding her comment: eyesore, n noun a thing that is very ugly, especially a building.
1-0 to Kathy C.
Here’s one for you Mel W:
Concise Oxford English Dictionary 11th Edition
verb (mobbed, mobbing) 1 crowd round or into in an unruly way. 2 (of birds or animals) crowd round so as to harass
— origin from Latin: mobile vulgus ‘excitable crowd’.
Don’t be part of the Mob. Read the online documents and for your own independent opinion.

From David Spencer
Friday, 25 January 2008

Jim Band asks where my fugures are from - well, £12 million is the generally stated bugdet in the local press etc.

There was also a typo in my post - £30m should read 30m - ie, the depth of the hole that will be dug. Sorry if that misled.

With regards to the flood plain, that is a matter of fact, not opinion. The site is at the bottom of a river valley. One that floods badly every once in a while. Only a few years ago, most of Hebden town centre was under a couple of feet of water - the proposed underground car park would have been flooded then, without question - so why will it not be flooded in any future event ? Unless the developers have a nifty megabucks pumping station tucked away in the specs somewhere - which I doubt very much.

It is also a fact that the basements in Albert Street regularly fill with ground water, and when the Crofts was being converted to apartments, the intended basement units were not built, as they filled with water as soon as they were dug.

The "underground" element of the new development is clearly outlined - it is in fact intended to be dug out right underneath the adjacent social club. Otherwise there will simply be no room for the proposed number of cars - ironic in a so-called car park scheme(some would argue there isn't room for the whole thing , which is being shoe-horned into an unsuitable space. )

I would be interested to see the experience Mr Band refers to, either in budget, scale or similarity of location.

In truth, this would be the biggest development to date, by a newly formed alliance of developers, none of whom have previous experience in such a scheme, individually or as a group. The Warrington building cited previously is the closest in monetary terms, but was in effect an extension to an existing builing on flat land - hardly comparable.

The more I read, the more vested interest, shifting aims, changing specifications and generally "murky" dealings seem to emgerge.

Not least is the large slice of grass verge/pavement that appears to have been gifted to the developers by the council at the 11th hour.

From Mike Jennings
Friday, 25 January 2008

Apologies to readers of this thread as this posting will not progress the informed debate. However I feel that I must question some of the facts made by Penny T.

  1. The retaining wall was rebuilt and strengthened in the 1970s.
  2. The Crofts are apartments in a former mill which is over 100 hundred years old. The only alterations to this building have been internal. Perhaps you could give details of the objections to this conversion?
  3. I actually said in the HB Times "We urge everyone to make their views known .." You have in fact quoted a notification from the Civic Trust regarding a meeting
  4. I can assure you that I have read all the documentation throughly and I beleve that people contributing to this thread, whatever their opinion, will have done so. Jenny, you are entitled to your opinion but please enure that your facts are accurate and you do not misquote.

From Jim Band
Monday, 28 January 2008

Well said Penny!

About time somebody was made an objective and rational post about this development.

David, exactly where on the documents does it suggest a 30m (ie. 10 storey) excavation? I cannot seem to find this mentioned anywhere. And judging by the levels shown on the plans, the proposed car park is not actually 'underground', it is more 'enclosed'. The proposed car park is no more likely to flood than the existing one.

And exactly where does the notion come from that residents will have 1.3 cars? If a resident needs more than their allotted 1.0 spaces, they will have to pay car parking charges day in, day out. Is that a likely scenario?

From Janice S
Monday, 28 January 2008

Regarding the comment that residents of the Crofts don't have a right to a view from their windows, they may not have a right to the view, but they probably have a 'right to light' under the 1832 Prescription Act. Once a window has received over 20 years of unobstructed daylight, it automatically earns itself a right to light. If a new building limits the amount of light coming in through a window this may constitute an obstruction. Perhaps the development can be opposed on these grounds.

Also, Garden Street immediately adjoins the Hebden Bridge Air Quality Management Area. Tanpits, Crossley Terrace and part of Albert Street are in the AQMA because of the level of nitrogen dioxide - a good reason not to add to the pollution levels by building more accommodation resulting in more car movements. The Calderdale website states "Already there is careful consideration of applications for planning permission for developments in or near AQMAs".

Should be an interesting meeting on Monday!

From Gwendoline Goddard
Monday, 28 January 2008

I have just checked with Norman that the HB Times will be covering tonight's meeting. He said not. He then added that the HBT would be covering Wednesday's council meeting when they considered the Garden Street development "because that would be balanced".

So much for a community newspaper that reflects residents' interests. And is it right that a local newspaper should pre-judge the flavour of a local meeting that is likely to attract a large participation?

It's a good thing we have the Hebweb.

From H Gregg
Monday, 28 January 2008

Re. the lack of interest from the HB Times in attending the Garden Street meeting. It doesn't surprise me.

A letter/email about this to the owners of the Times might encourage them to improve our newsapaper's service to the community. They have helped out in the past.

If anyone out there is prepared to do it (sorry I don't have the time at the moment) the best approach would be to their CEO - Tim Bowdler.

Johnston Press
53 Manor Place

Tel: 0131 225 3361
Fax: 0131 225 4580
Web: www.johnstonpress.co.uk

From John Rhodes
Monday, 28 January 2008

I note there is no Jim Band in the local phone book. Will the real Jim Band reveal himself...?

From Martin S
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

a) Thanks to everyone last night for contributing to such an excellent meeting, special thanks go to Gwen for chairing it.

b) One question that was not asked during the meeting was: "How many more car parking spaces could be created if there were no swimming pool?"

b) The owners of the HB Times have a box on their web-page from which comments can be sent. It would be best to comment regarding the non-attendance of the Hebden Bridge Times last night by letter but if they get a lot of comments via their website they may take notice.

I have just sent the following message: " In respect of the paragraph at the above top-left (on the web-page where they say “Our aim is to serve local communities by meeting their needs for local news,…..”) I would like to say that as a Hebden Bridge resident of many years and a regular reader of the HB Times I find it thoroughly unacceptable that your employee Norman refused to send a reporter to cover last night's important meeting (it was standing room only!) at the Council Offices in respect of the proposed development of Garden Street.

I had always thought that one of the duties of a community newspaper is to accurately reflect the issues and concerns of the residents in a town such as Hebden Bridge. Perhaps I was wrong and should get my information from other sources in the future.


I will report if I get a reply.

From Anne W
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

How best to significantly increase the number of public car parking spaces available in Hebden Bridge


  • Demolish a 140m x 7m retaining wall
  • Build a massive 6 block multi-storey residential/retail/commercial/car park/swimming pool complex comprising:-
    • 3915 sq m residential floor space
    • 617 sq m retail floorspace
    • 378 sq m of office space
    • 365 sq m residents swimming pool
  • Provide 136 car parking spaces (only 80 for public use)
  • Spend over £12 million on developing the site
  • Increased public car parking space by 36 at most probably much less
  • Potential shortfall of 17 private parking spaces (only 45 planned for the 62 †properties)
  • Closure of street/car park
  • Large inappropriate overbearing development
  • Increased traffic into the town
  • Air quality adversely affected †
  • Increased demand for car parking spaces
  • 48 apartments with no "affordable housing"
  • 4 years + of enabling/construction work including massive underground excavation ††
  • Town centre noise and pollution
  • Widespread public opposition

From Martin S
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Quick action from the owners of the HB Times, as follows:

"Thank you for your comments regarding the HB Times and a meeting organised on Monday evening. I am happy to assure you that we do not underestimate the importance of the Garden Street planning application as a local issue. The paper has given the story prominent coverage and will continue to do so.

"However, it became apparent to us that two meetings this week, the one on Monday evening and a meeting of Hebden Royd Council two days later, would cover similar ground. Indeed, the points raised at the Monday meeting would be reported fully to the council meeting. For that reason we arranged to collect details of the Monday meeting by way of a press release from organisers and to send reporters instead to the council meeting, where all shades of opinion on this controversial issue will be aired.

"I am sorry you feel aggrieved that no reporter attended your meeting, however I assure you that its importance will be reflected in this week's paper and that my team will continue to serve the community of Hebden Bridge by reporting all issues with honesty and impartiality.

Yours Sheila Tordoff (Tod News)"

It was cc’d to Suzie Westaway and John Furbisher both of the Halifax Courier.

From Rory G
Tuesday, 29 January 2008

I have read these boards for a couple of years, but never posted before - until now.

I am now posting because I feel strongly that this development must not proceed. It strikes me as completely unsuitable.

The visual apsect is, admittedly, subjective. No doubt its "Salford Quays" yuppie design will apeal to some, and that is their opinion, to which they are entitled. However, the vast majority of people I know and have asked, think it to be anachronistic, out of place and far, far too large.

More to the point, it seems to fail in most of the original intentions / requirements -

  • It will not result in a significant increase in parking spaces, and the cost per space is ludicrous.
  • It will disrupt an already busy town centre for months/years of preparation and build time.
  • It will increase traffic in a poor air environment.
  • It will adversely impact on nearby businesses and residents.
  • It will cost many times more than other simpler, less invasive schemes.
  • The developers seem to have access to the sale of land, the availability of pavement/roadside land not usually for sale without open tender/auction.

All in all, many questions remain unanswered, and many aspects of this development seem either vague or overly ambitious - and once the big wall is taken down, it may be too late to go back.

I urge the people of Hebden Bridge to think long and hard about if they want this development, and also if the elected and statutory representatives are acting tn the best interest of the town.

Don't let this town go the way so many other identikit towns, once distinctive and characterful, now just vacuous, bland and dull. And before any tells me, I am not looking to preserve some twee olde worlde stuck-in-aspic theme town - I just wonder if shoehorning a huge, glass mixed use tower into the town centre is necessary.

From Jim Band
Tuesday, 29 January 2008


Yourself and others seem to be confused by the absurd cost calculations which make the additional parking 'appear' exorbitant. They are not. The additional parking gain is a by-product of the total development costs, not a proportion of it.

The whole point of this scheme is that it will not cost more than other proposals. This is elementary arithemtic, but apparently for some people, only a side by side comparison of costs will convince. So, Garden Street will provide say 40 additional spaces at zero cost to the taxpayer, versus an alternative proposal for 40 spaces at (insert any conservative guesstimate here) cost to the taxpayer for purchasing the land and creating the car park. Think about it. Properly.

The scheme is far from bland, vacuous, or dull. It is distinctive, it is characterful, it is an innovative solution.

And describing it as an architectural anachronism in a town which is full of them is justy silly. I would quote the dictionary meaning of the word anachronism just to drive the point home, but that would be a childish and unhelpful contribution to the debate.

From Penny T
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

There have been some interesting questions raised recently on this thread.

Firstly I think the HB Times should be applauded for remaining impartial throughout this debate. They are here to report on fact. This forum is the right place to express opinion, leave the paper to report news.

I have followed the link once more to the Calderdale Planning Applications page, and it seems to me that this proposal for Garden Street is an outline planning application.

I am happy to be corrected, but my understanding is that an outline planning application is simply a box drawn around the area concerned, with a description of what is being applied for. That seems to be the case for other applications on Calderdale’s website.

My point is this: is it not a little bit early for us to be asking specific questions? Would that not be more appropriate when the FULL planning application is put in?

It seems the developers have given us more information than they are required to..... We may have an explanation why some answers seemed a little vague. They just don’t know yet.

John Rhodes, if Jim Band is not that person's real name, would you really expect him to 'reveal himself' given the way Mr Fletcher was treated last night? This is not a witch hunt.

From Janice S
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Jim, I take your point that council tax payers would have to pay for the cost of building a car park on an alternative site. I'd argue though that this development will have a huge economic cost to HB traders and nearby homeowners because of the noise and disruption caused by the construction, plus the reduction in property values from being overlooked and loss of natural light.

I've mentioned above the effect on air quality in the town centre from any new accommodation which results in more car owners/traffic movements. This will also have an indirect 'cost' on people, especially children, who live in or travel through the town centre. This 'cost' worries me more than a few extra pounds on my council tax.

In the past few years, in Albert Street alone, we've had the conversions of the Carlton Hotel, Albion Mill (now The Crofts), and Croft Mill. All of these have resulted (or will result) in more traffic movements in the town centre. Planning permission has already been granted for 36 units in Walkley's, and 54 units in King Street, Mytholm (the old Mytholm Works site). I imagine that most cars from these new units will end up on the A646, probably in HB town centre. We just cannot afford for the air quality in this area to get any worse.

From Jim Band
Wednesday, 30 January 2008


I understand what you are saying, however there is no allocated parking for Carlton Mills, neither does the redeveloped Mill by the canal, which means no significant traffic increase. And given the proximity of the scheme to public transport links, it is very likely that many occupants will choose that option. If the occupants work in Hebden Bridge, they won't need to drive at all.

More importantly however, parked cars do not generate pollution. What does generate pollution is vast numbers of cars driving around the town centre for hours trying to find a space to park.

If you believe that more housing equals dramatically increased pollution of the air, then I must assume that you have also objected to all previous residential (re)developments in the town.

And if you are simply against more traffic in the town, then you will obviously have to object to any new car park proposal, since those travelling by car to the new car park will generate additional pollution.

Are you against providing additional parking for visitors to the town?

Like many others, the objections about noise, disruption, being overlooked etc were ignored when the mill building opposite The Crofts was redeveloped, or indeed many others. I can't find the threads on Hebweb where that or other similar schemes were so vigorously opposed by 'the town'. These are objections of convenience.

And again, the economic impact on Market Street can only be of any consequence if existing businesses move from there to the new units, or if new and directly competing business occupy them. This vision of economic apocalypse for the town has no basis in fact. As before, in the past few years, more businesses have opened on Market Street than have closed. This is a fact. And of the remaining units, perhaps if they were not so derelict looking, they would be attractive to new businesses without the significant necessary capital to refurbish them. Some people have hinted that the closure of the sewing shop or the White Lion chippy is some kind of omen predicting economic catastrophe in this town. Nonsense. If you were a visitor to the town and were presented with the three options available, where would you go for your fish and chips?

From Jacob G
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Jim, distinctive and characterful, yes, I agree. But then so was Bernard Manning.

The retail units will mean there will be an increased demand for parking spaces and therefore, less availability than there is currently. Furthermore, if you look at the plans - such as they are - carefully, this bloated development is inaproppriately shoehorned into the space - in much the same way that Mr Manning was into his characterful suits.

Penny, it is indeed outline permission, though herein lies a real problem. Much can be changed, including the parking provision. I would direct peoples' attention to the development of the mill in Brunswick Street. Outline permission was granted on the basis of integral parking, which was subsequently altered. The demand for parking on the surrounding streets is now so high, that the developer of the mill on Melbourne Street is proposing to dig up green land and allotments opposite Mason Street and build road access and a car park.

Also Penny, I was at the meeting and Mr Fletcher was treated with utmost respect, despite his lack of knowledge about certain aspects of the application.

From Janice S
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Jim, I'm not against additional parking being provided for existing residents, and for visitors - and I agree with your point about some pollution being caused by people driving around the town looking for parking spaces! When I said that I wouldn't mind paying more council tax I meant that if the council had to build a car park by the station, for instance, I'd be OK about this. I'm not sure about your point that additional car parking will create additional pollution because more people will be driving to the car park. As they are currently driving around HB looking for spaces, extra car parking at the station may stop them in their tracks, so to speak, before they get to the town centre. We can only hope...

What I am concerned about is additional accommodation being built in the town centre. Even if no parking spaces are provided with the accommodation (as in the Carlton), this does not mean that residents will not own and drive cars. It would be great if residents of the town centre developments all used public transport or worked in HB, but this is a big 'if'.

It's true that I did not object to the conversions of the Carlton, Albion Mill, or Croft Mill - because they had planning permission before the town centre was declared an Air Quality Management Area. Also, they were conversions of existing buildings and (apart from the new glass roof of Croft Mill) didn't create any extra overlooking of residences. I think the disruption caused by the Garden Street development (pile drivers, closure of Commercial Street, etc) will be far greater than the disruption caused by these three conversions put together. It's this disruption which I believe will affect the traders. I wasn't thinking about Market Street, I'm afraid, but the traders in Albert Street and Crown Street. Even without a crystal ball, I can foresee a huge amount of noise, mud, and traffic gridlock in this area.

From Jim Band
Wednesday, 30 January 2008


The traffic through the town will increase regardless of where an alternative car park located. Not everyone drives into the town from one direction!

And as far as disruption is concerned, well, you have to break a few eggs etc... The town and the businesses will survive it, and become an even more thriving community.

Who knows, we might even start to see the kind of ethnic diversity in Hebden Bridge, that so many other towns benefit from.

There is another extremely important point which I have overlooked so far.

All those who believe this project should not go ahead because the additional retail units and dwellings will be detrimental to the town in terms of increased traffic, are essentially saying that no new shops or dwellings whatsoever should ever come into existence in the town centre. This is wrong in my opinion.

So anyone complaining that Market Street has empty retail units had better think very carefully about whether they want these (or any other empty units in the town) resurrected, before they also claim that these additional retail or dwellings units will guarantee disastrous traffic consequences for the town.

From Ernest Jones
Wednesday, 30 January 2008


The current application is indeed an outline, but once outline planning permission has been given, the details of layout, scale, appearance, access and landscaping can be submitted under an application for reserved matters. There is no need for a full planning application.

Is it acceptable for a major town centre development within a conservation area to be given the go-ahead without a full planning application? Not in my opinion, but now is the time for us the public to make our representations to Calderdale Council if we object to the scheme. These need to be in by 15th February.

We must do this on the basis of a set of documents that have been available for one week only. The documents contradict themselves in places, and are unclear in others. It is unfortunate that the Town Council must make its judgement on the proposal this evening, having had so little time to have read and understood the application.

I agree with Penny that the HB Times should report upon fact, but the fact that there was standing room only in the council offices at Monday's meeting was surely newsworthy, and the issues raised should have been reported. The newspaper had no problem with reporting Mr Fletcher's opinion of the scheme in its lead article two weeks ago.

Which brings me to "the way Mr Fletcher was treated" at the meeting. Was Penny actually there? For 30 minutes, people asked Mr Fletcher factual questions, and he responded. The meeting voted to ask Mr Fletcher to leave at the end of the Q and A session, because of his vested interest in the scheme. Nobody was less than polite. Hardly a witch hunt.

From Andrew Hall
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Jim, why, when you post, do you put me in mind of Johnny Marascalco? Like him, you seem to enjoy criticising other people's arguments without putting anything constructive in their place.

Let's look at your most recent post.

First paragraph. Yes, cars approach Hebden from (mainly) two directions. Your negative view is that cars will have to come through town wherever the car park. The positive view would be to look at car parks at either end of town. Your negative view would then be that this would cost taxpayers. The positive view would be to charge an appropriate fee to cover costs.

Your second paragraph talks about breaking eggs. Your negative view is that you have to break eggs to make an omelette (I take it that's what your 'etc...' implies). A positive view would be that there are other foodstuffs that are more acceptable to the majority of people in town (to continue your rather questionable analogy). You can live quite well without "eggs", you know.

Your third paragraph, for some inexplicable reason, suggests that acceptance of the scheme will increase ethnic diversity. Your negative view is that there is little ethnic diversity in our town. A positive view would be to go for a walk through Hebden Bridge, look around you, and rejoice in the ethnic diversity that already exists, and believe me the existing situation is so much better than it was 30 years ago. Is this really the best you can do to justify this limited additional car parking, retail outlets and (I bet you) pricey apartments?

And so on and so forth. Why you think that those who oppose this development are "essentially" against all development in the town centre? That is quite simply irrational and illogical. Where's your evidence? Will anyone who has posted here stand up and say yes, this is exactly what we/I mean?

I don't think anyone is against development of this site per se, but surely it it right that something that will be with us all for the rest of our lives should be open to the most stringent scrutiny. Your attempts to belittle people's concerns add nothing to this process.

Are you the former poster Johnny Marascalco, by the way?

From Nicola Milburn-Jones
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Okay - I've waited some time before posting as, per usual, the thread has gone off on a couple of tangents and personal 'digs' only to get back to the key issue.

A couple of things. The meeting called by Civic Trust was advertised as an open meeting to discuss the proposals. We went into the meeting with an open viewpoint and anyone was welcome. That, in a room full of those people, only one - David Fletcher was in favour of the current proposals speaks for itself. If those in favour had come along, their viewpoints would have been given a fair hearing. I can therefore only assume that this is indicative of the fact that very few are in favour. David was asked to leave the meeting having been given half an hour to answer questions of fact relating to the scheme. He was treated with the utmost respect throughout and it was a simple issue of his personal potential commercial interest in the scheme, which presented a perceived conflict of interest to most present, under which he was asked to leave the meeting. Incidentally, no-one at the meeting was given longer than 5 minutes to address any single issue.

Now - the Scheme. Firstly, one of the primary concerns relates to the fact that the submission has gone in under two separate applications with two separate dates for submitting comments/objections. This is a concern in itself as one cannot go ahead without the other and simply causes confusion to anyone wishing to submit comments/objections. (That's of course if you can get online to do this in the first instance - planning portal seems to be almost permanently down lately)

As many have already said, this is outline. This means we have an opportunity to put suggestions forward to ensure that if such a proposal were to go ahead, it goes ahead with the majority satisfied they have done all they can for it to be something which enhances the landscape and facilities of the town and doesn't detract from the current character of it.

Whilst on the brink of an economic decline and very much a downturn in property sales, in my entirely personal opinion, we would be better spent making the best of what we have in the existing town, including the plethora of run-down, disused retail units. The council has an obligation to do something about this in itself.

The town must surely be at capacity with apartments and as has been pointed out by many, the ones planned for the development are most definitely not in the affordable housing bracket if we are appealing to residents who desire swimming pools!

The car parking proposals for the station are already very much underway. In addition, a survey to be published at the weekend continues to support the need for more cycle lockers in the town and at the station, which would mean a reduction in the overall need for more parking in any event and must be encouraged both economically and environmentally as the way forward for the town, rather than two-tiered underground and stacker car parks.

I find myself disinclined to join in many forum debates recently because of personal and often condescending comments being posted by a minority, taking general assumptions and providing heresay and often complete inaccuracies instead of taking the time to study details or more importantly get involved in the many, vibrant organisations set up within the area who are taking things seriously and doing something about it, instead of moaning in corners or on forums. This is precisely how I have become involved in Civic Trust and latterly Watchdog. We are all allowed personal opinions, but we live in a democratic society and if you feel your voice isn't heard, perhaps you're not talking to the right people - or indeed talking at all but posting on forums anonymously.

From Anthony Rae
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

When I was leafing through the pages of Calderdale's adopted Unitary Development Plan this afternoon, preparing the remarks I was to make as spokesperson for the objectors (alas, unheard this evening, because the item was deferred) I came across the following sentence:

"To ensure that development proposals are in keeping with the character of a Conservation Area, all planning applications that affect the character and/or appearance of a building or space in a Conservation Area must be for full planning permission.” Paragraph 8.66

Now: the Garden Street site is within the Hebden Bridge conservation area; the planning application form has been ticked in the 'Outline' rather than 'Full' permission box; I noted that the word was 'must'; the view I obtained from our planning adviser was that the words on the UDP page meant just what they appeared to do; and a similar conversation with a Calderdale conservation area planning officer confirmed the same. A planning application has to be determined according to the requirements of the UDP.

Now, I am not a planner but what this at least appears to tell me is that (i) the current application is invalid; and (ii) that Calderdale Council should have identified this a very long time ago.

Of course, it's possible that there is something technical here that I do not understand but I hope we all ought to be able to rely on words in plain English in a laboriously prepared planning framework meaning what they say, and that they will be upheld by its custodians.

From Frank W
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Thanks to Anthony for his information.

Until we hear officially to the contrary, we should guard against assuming that the 'outline' application will be withdrawn (either by the developers or Calderdale) as 'invalid' and, therefore, not putting in a letter of objection.

From Joseph S
Friday, 1 February 2008

Could someone list the things we can legitimately object to the scheme about?

Eg That we don't really need the development and it seems like the only ones who really benefit are the developers might be irrelevant. But if it blocked light from a building (someone mentioned a right to light?) then this might be a valid objection.

From Joanne M
Friday, 1 February 2008

I very much agree with Nicola's sentiments and to contribute to the questions raised by Frank I would suggest that we focus on the site.

I am intrigued, for example, by the proposed pedestrian access through tanpits. It's clear that numerous rights of way affect this site, including the alleyway onto Albert Street. Most developers are not known for promoting our right to roam. I suspect this site is criss-crossed by many public footpaths that may predate the retaining wall and that these could affect the viability of the proposal if they have to be protected.

Also, the cellars of the old cottages - does anyone know if they (a) extended behind the wall and (b) were filled in when it was built? If the old cellars extend behind the wall and under Commercial Street, this could be significant as the costs of rectifying a similar situation in Todmorden was met from the public purse. Basically, houses that once extended over the space now use dby the road were demolished, but their cellars were not filled in properly, so when the road widened it ran over the old cellars and they eventually collapsed, causing road subsidence. If this is the case (which it may not be) then removing the wall would also require serious structural work to take place beneath to a major route - just a thought.

Finally, the footprint of the site appears to extend over land that I'm not sure is part of it. I wonder if the grass verge was ceded to the public when then wall was built?

From Andrew Hall
Friday, 1 February 2008

Joseph, this page gives a few indications as to what is considered by the Council a propos planning applications.

I also find it useful to look at the Replacement Calderdale UDP. It shows you've done your homework if you can make reference to, for example, Policy No BE18 - Development within Conservation Areas. I find it easiest to look at Appendix 6, see which Policy Titles might be relevant, and then work back to the main body of the document. I'm afraid it's not the most exciting reading though!

Hope this helps.

From F Robinson
Friday, 1 February 2008

We lived on Commercial Street through the 70s and 80s and around 1978/79 the road just beyond Crossley Terrace (going towards Hebden) began collapsing into the cellars below, which indeed extended beyond the retaining wall. The road was closed for many weeks while it was rectified.

The old terraced houses which were demolished extended right along Commercial Street on the left to the then paper shop - Eastwoods (now Jules China). There should be records showing just what work was done and whether all the cellars on that row were filled in at that time.

Does anyone have any idea where the relevant records would be kept. Would it be local council or Highways Dept? These would give a clearer picture of just might happen if the cellars were not all filled in.

We have talked about this many times since the plans were first aired and Joanne's post has prompted me to respond now.

From Janice S
Friday, 1 February 2008

Thanks Andrew - the UDP policy (BE 2)on privacy and daylight may be relevant to those in The Crofts and elsewhere in Albert Street:

"Development proposals should not significantly affect the privacy, daylighting and private amenity space of adjacent residents or other occupants and should provide adequate privacy, daylighting and private amenity space for existing and prospective residents and other occupants."

From Anthony Rae
Friday, 1 February 2008

Joseph asks: "Could someone list the things we can legitimately object to the scheme about?"

We will do this shortly, but in the meantime it is probably best to hold off submitting your written comments until we have identified and checked what are the strong and formal grounds for objection.

At our request the ward councillors will be ascertaining from the Acting Chief Planning Officer on Monday whether he accepts or not that the UDP requires that this application must be for Full permission, rather than Outline as at present. The answer to this question will have a significant impact on the present process.

From Andrew Hall
Friday, 1 February 2008

I agree with Anthony Rae on this one. The more I read the UDP, the less clear cut things actually become. It seems to be a far more subjective document than one might imagine, using words such as 'reasonable' - in other words giving leeway for Planning Officers to use their own judgement. And time and time again, there seem to be policies that conflict with each other. Presumably there are guidelines for how to deal with such conflicts, but I can't find anything. The outcome is this: What you may think is a cast iron reason to oppose a development may actually not be that at all.

So it seems right to wait for someone who can tell us on what grounds we should be objecting to this development. My only concern is that individually written letters seem to have more influence than pro forma letters and petitions, and that we only have 2 weeks to submit our comments. Time is pressing.

From Mike Jennings
Friday, 1 February 2008

Joseph S
These thoughts are based on the 8 points suggested in the Calderdale Council “Commenting on Planning Applications”

Please feel free to use all, some,none of them. They perhaps need to refined but I have tried to relate them to the UDP.

Overview – “The scheme should maximise the amount of public car parking space” Calderdale Council Development Brief Garden Street car Park Hebden Bridge May 2004

  • This is an inappropriate development as it is at odds with the existing buildings and surroundings because of its layout, scale, height, density and form i.e. 5 blocks of multi-7 storey residential blocks (Policy BE 1 (i))
  • The development intrudes on key views and vistas ( Policy BE 1 (iv)
  • Important views within, into and out of the Conservation are not preserved or enhanced (Policy BE 18 9iv)
  • The development will have an overbearing effect on the street scene and neighbouring properties, effecting the privacy and daylighting of nearby residencies to the main aspect windows. Properties will be overlooked, especially from the path on the greenwall , contrary to the guidance in PPS1, PPS3 and Policies GBE1 and UDP BE2
  • Direct access to and from the car stacker onto the busy A6033, Commercial Street, is a major risk to the safe flow of traffic and pedestrians ( BE 5, DTR Circular 04/2001)
  • Inadequate parking for residential/public use 146 in total. Gain of 36 public spaces (UDP Transport 1.5 Per dwelling)
  • Traffic growth will exceed 5% (UDP 140 9.3 Transport) and the Air Quality will therefore be made much worse
  • Noise transmission associated with the automated car stacking mechanism ( Policy EP4 UDP)
  • Unacceptable degree of noise during enabling and construction works (BS 5228 parts 1-4)
  • The development has not made provision for affordable housing (GH1, H10)
  • Trees and grass verges destroyed
  • Design of pathways, pocket gardens and subdued lighting will encourage criminal activity.

From Frank W
Sunday, 3 February 2008

I have been informed that David Fletcher has been going around the shops in Hebden canvassing support for his scheme.

My informant reports that he did not find any.

From Anthony Rae
Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Recent developments about this. In my posting on 30th January I raised the question of the requirement set out in UDP paragraph 8.66 that planning applications affecting a conservation area should be Full rather than Outline. This is a significant distinction because it governs the amount of information a developer has to provide; those of you who have looked at elevation drawing 217050 will know that it is quite inadequate and far too small scale for people to be able to comment on how all this will affect our conservation area, or for the Planning Committee to make an informed decision.

On Friday, council officers provided a technical answer to this question that at first appeared to be a reasonable explanation but, on further examination, I became less satisfied. With the help of our planning adviser we have scrutinised the background documents and today I wrote to the acting chief planning officer Andy Edwards raising further concerns on this point. At the same time Calderdale councillor David O'Neill was able to speak to Mr Edwards as well (see my 1st February posting).

I understand from David that Mr Edwards is now looking at the issues we have raised, which is helpful; we will also be making the same points with English Heritage who have yet to comment on the scheme.

And now the Courier is reporting the extent of local concerns: '£12.4m plan 'is no good for Hebden' following an approach made to local traders by objectors.

It's important now that we continue to challenge the basis of this scheme. There will be a stall in St George's Square this Saturday where people can find out more information and sign formal objections. And I think I have heard that the local Labour Party will be distributing leaflets to households - please note, this campaign is non party political and I'm sure we welcome all support.

Finally, can I mention that Mike Jennings, a stalwart of the campaign whose postings have featured here has recently been taken ill, and we wish him well.

From Jim Band
Wednesday, 6 February 2008

David Spencer said: "...and when the Crofts was being converted to apartments, the intended basement units were not built, as they filled with water as soon as they were dug."

If the anyone involved in re-developing of The Crofts happens to be looking in on this thread, I'd be interested in knowing who they intended selling basement, windowless apartments to? And how these apartments managed to fill with water as they were dug, when they lie below the water table? After all, if the basements in Albert Street are not perpetually flooded, how could this happen at The Crofts?

From Frank W
Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Sorry to hear about Mike.

If you see him or talk to him pls pass on everyone's best wishes for a quick recovery.

From Janice S
Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Re: basement flooding, I don't know about The Crofts, but the Croft Mill application includes plans for a basement storage level (for the extended shop). When they had to dig new foundations to extend the shop back wall, this hole continually filled with water and the builders were always pumping water out. In the last spell of heavy rain, when the cellars in the Albert, Railway, and Moyles flooded, the builders were again pumping water out of Croft Mill. I mentioned this to someone familiar with the area and he said that there is an existing basement area to Croft Mill itself but it had become unusable because of flooding. There are numerous springs in the hill above Commercial Road and the water draining off has changed its routes over the years.

I've looked at the groundwater assessment to the Garden Street application but I'm not sure how complete it is. I noticed yesterday that the Transport Assessment accompanying the application is based on 40 apartments being built, not the actual figure of 48, and the Air Quality Assessment was completed before the council's Further Assessment was produced in late September. Incidentally this Further Assessment does show significant increases in NO2 levels (above the limits) at the New Road end of Albert Street, and on New Road itself.

From Frank W
Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Jim Band,

I have been told that the basement was to provide storage facilities for the residents, not additional apartments.

From Jim Band
Sunday, 10 February 2008

Describing the flooding of basements in Albert Street or in Croft Mill as "regular" is misleading to the point of being wrong. I recently spoke with someone who has worked at The Albert pub for several years, and she maintains that the only time their cellar floods is in freak weather conditions, the likes of which have happened once a year at most in recent history. And why do the basements and cellars flood in those exceptional circumstances? Because at the time they were built, there was no need consider flooding and therefore build adequate tanking and drainage in order to overcome this risk.

This development must have made provision for the local flood risk, otherwise it will not have a chance of being approved by Development Control, and would be then an incredible waste of the developers time and money. Why would they be so naive? Are they not aware of the flood risk? Do you really think they want a car park which floods or a development which is a total disaster?

From Frank W
Sunday, 10 February 2008

Don't forget that the deadline for objections is this Friday, the 15th.

Remember that you can comment on-line here.

Please object and stop this ridiculous application.

From William Blomfield
Monday, 11 February 2008

Jim Band may be interested to know that the developers do indeed want a car park that floods! The subterranean car park is a "sacrificial" floor that would intentionally be allowed to flood in the event of severe weather. Another bananas reason why this development should be rejected!

A few additional points that I don't think have been mentioned on this forum already but I'll be making in my objection letter to the council are:

Prospective residents for the development with more than 1 car will not necessarily be put off by the limited allocated parking. Instead, parking will almost certainly overflow to uncontrolled parking areas nearby such as Osborne Street which are already heavily laden with cars.

The proposed car stacker will almost certainly break down creating parking problems for residents who will be forced to either use the public parking spaces (encroaching on the number available for non-residents) or again overspill into surrounding streets.

The design incorporates a swimming pool, subterranean car park and car stacker lift system. All of these will require energy-hungry plant and machinery to keep them maintained and ventilated and therefore not be energy efficient or environmentally friendly.

From Alex Davis
Monday, 11 February 2008

It's great we're all so passionate about our community, but I have to disagree with most of you. I'm in favour of progress not stagnation.

iIf you look at the planning submission and actually try to read it then you will see that the majority of the 'massive' seven storeys is below the current road level (not underground either) - in fact it almost exactly copies the mill workers' houses that were originally built there, with five levels at the back and two at road side. The scale of the building height and blocks is also no greater than the mill next to the site. If the developer fails to meet any 'right to light' laws then planning permission is not granted.

On your objections to the parking allowances; we will get more car parking than we have at the moment which allows for a small increase in the car using population but takes into account current policy for using public transport. Your opinions contradict themselves on this point. Please would someone tell me if you want more parking or cleaner air?

On new developments resulting in the failure of others; the businesses failed for a reason, they weren't very good. If a Starbucks comes to Hebden Bridge, don't go, go to Fab's instead, exercise your right as a consumer and it will fail. By opposing the development for this reason you are unfairly excluding certain types of business from entering Hebden Bridge. The shops in Hebden Bridge are too expensive as it is anyway. I shouldn't have to pay 96p for a pork pie at Waites or £1.36 for three rashes of bacon at the butchers. Be thankful the developer hasn't included a Tescos Metro in the scheme.

On opinions of the design aesthetic; who are we to comment? Anyone who allowed the demon red brick to be laid on the Garden Street site or failed to object to its presence should not be allowed an opinion on this subject. Red brick in hebden bridge, surely not! if anyone has an architecture or design degree, please could they state this at the beginning of every post so we know who has authority to talk on the subject. The govenment body for architectural excellence, CABE, also support the scheme. Local stone has been used at a scale matching the building which was previously on the site. What is there to object to?

Grass verges are also very common in this country and I have failed to see any particular merit in the thousand times I have walked past this one.

I understand that people want things just the way they are but that unfairly excludes others and sucks the life out of a community.

From David Spencer
Monday, 11 February 2008

Car Stackers are an absolute nightmare.  I have worked in two buildings where they were used for occasional overflow parking - slow, unreilable and expensive to maintain.

Perhaps there are newer more reilable versions, but the thought of 30 or 40 people arriving home from work and neaduing to use one is laughable.

Even if its only needed for 10 or so cars per day, that is a lot of time.  At an averge of 2 minus per car ( to load, move and unload ) would anyone want to be behind three or four neighboors.  And where wouild this queue be ??  Halfway down Commercial Street.....

If this is the reality, its a joke.  If it isn't, where is the detail of the actual layout?  Shouldn't there be a clear, easy to follow brief from the developer ??

From James D
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Please can you provide evidence of your statement that CABE are behind this scheme.

I seriously doubt they would even have an opinion on this.

If I am proved wrong however, I would be interested to know who the CABE representative is for this geographical area. Do they live, work and breath the local environment, as many people who have posted on this site do?

The overwhelming consensus of this thread is that the people of Hebden Bridge feel that this development is not appropriate or sustainable at any level, social or environmental. I only hope that the planners see the strength of opinion and safeguard the local environment against this development.

Just for good measure - what about this thought: -

  • bigger car park at the station
  • permanent indoor market on this site
  • re development of current market site if the developers need some return?

From David Spencer
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alan Davis makes an interesting, but contradictory point.  In his post, he is objecting to the Red brick Mill - built the best part of a century ago - because it is in red brick. Fair enough, as the centre of Hebden is mainly stone.

However he also states he is in favour of progress.  Also fair enough - and no doubt whoever built the Croft Mill out of brick said much the same, because in the early 1900's brick was the vogue/future.

Sound Familiar ??

And yet in 2008 Alan, who favours progress, objects to it ever being built in the first place.  

The Mill in Garden street is, in effect, down a hole - most visitors to Hebden, and many locals, will never actually see it unless the

y go there to park / visit.  The same cannot be said for the proposed seven storey development.

None of which is relevant to the other important aspects of this scheme - its woeful parking provision, ironically the basis on which the council initiated the development.

Or the air quality, congestion, suiitability etc etc.

But it is interesting to sepculate - if it does go ahead, I wonder if the 3008 version of Alan will look back and mention it as a "never in Hebden" example of something built in folly, even though he favours progress ??

From Janice S
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alex Davis wrote "Grass verges are also very common in this country and I have failed to see any particular merit in the thousand times I have walked past this one."

If you are familiar with Commercial Street you will know that there is only a pavement on one side, it is only wide enough for two pedestrians, and there is a bus stop - the bus shelter is on the grass verge. If the grass verge goes, so will the bus shelter, and pedestrians will have to step into the road to 'overtake'. The development will create a 'canyon' effect similar to Market Street, trapping car pollution in this area. Yes, I am concerned about air quality. I'm in favour of creating more parking spaces but not (as here) where the development will increase the number of cars in the town centre.

Re: right to light, this is an easement and supersedes planning permission. It can be invoked after planning permission has been granted. For those interested, see the RICS page and a the recent case of Regan v Paul Properties Limited where the developer had to demolish part of the offending building. A detailed planning application of this magnitude should include a 'Daylight Survey' of the effects of the development on neighbouring residences. This is an outline application and some of the accompanying survey documents are out of date and incomplete.

From Nicola M
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Most of us have read the plans and actually only two floors (parking) are below ground level.  The scheme is 7 stories high and therefore, in places, it will be 5 stories above street level.  

From Anthony Rae
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Alex Davis' comments appear somewhat exagerated  - as just the first example, leaving Garden Street as a suface car park is not 'stagnation' (or 'sucking the life out of a community'), just providing a useful and easily accessible facility for our thriving town -  but in one respect they are factually inaccurate.

He implies at least that only 2 stories of Block E are above Commercial Street.  Those of us familiar with drawings 3014-18 know that it is 5 stories on Commercial Street.

He also mentions the support that CABE have given to the scheme, and James D asks where is the evidence for this, and who was the assessor?  Answer: see the Design & Access statement section 6.  When I spoke to the assessor Thomas Bendtner (I hope that spelling is correct; he is based in London) he told me that he had visited Hebden Bridge, but that he did not wish to receive comments from the community about the scheme e.g even about the complete inadequacy of the scale of the elevation drawings submitted by the applicant.  At the moment the 1:500 'sketches' are the only ones available to everyone, including CABE.

This strikes me as a somewhat one-sided process, and not necessarily expert.

From Jim Band
Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The air quality issue is a red herring, parked cars do not produce pollution, cars circling the town looking for spaces to park in do.

The car stacker bottleneck issue is also a red herring. Who can claim that they arrive home from work in their cars within 5 minutes of their, say 10, nearest neighbours. Why should it break down? Why would developers propose such a disastrous solution?

And as Nicola M has made clear, the scheme is only 5 storyes above Commercial Street in some places. In most of the sections it is clearly only 2 storeys. Hardly a tower block.

And leaving Garden Street as it stands provides nothing for the community Anthony. In that you are also factually inaccurate.

Alex is correct in pointing out that red brick is out of place and incongruent, like many of the buildings which make up the patchwork of architectural styles which make up Hebden Bridge. This proposal is no more incongruent in terms of aesthetics than a red brick mill building converted to apartments, or that cheap, Wimpey-style, faux Victorian mill which the TIC calls home.

I look forward to seeing this proposal being approved by Calderdale MBC, and to the naysayers becoming silent as their apocalyptic visions of the future of Hebden Bridge are proven false, and the town continues to flourish.

From Penny T
Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Firstly, if this scheme is to go ahead (and I sincerely hope it does) it would mean £12.4M worth of private investment in Hebden Bridge, by local businessmen from HB. £12.4M coming from within the town and staying in the town. I am unaware of any precedent (I will happily be corrected) where this amount of investment has had a negative impact on other towns.

If I may, I would like to respond to Anthony Rae's observations of of drawings 3014 -18, and question his interpretation. Those of us familiar with drawing 3030 know that block E is actually only 3.5 stories above Commercial Street, making it a single storey above the newly converted mill.  This does not seem out of scale with the historical development of Hebden Bridge to me.

Your remark that the procedural requirements of C.A.B.E (CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, is the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space)to be ''somewhat one-sided process, and not necessarily expert'  seems to me to be unintelligible.  The Developers appear asking for opinion from an independent body.  A commission set up to prevent the architectural eyesores.  I would have thought this would have been welcomed by the local community.

In response to the comment by Janice S.  You are quite right to point out that the grass verge helps to widen the area of footpath on Commercial Street. But so would the proposed pocket parks.  this would not just double the width, but make it many yards wider.  your concerns about a canyon effect would only be realised at isolated instances along the route.  As for concern about cleaner breathable air, you would be able to enjoy cleaner air by taking one of the newly created routes from Commercial Street to Albert Street, that this proposal provides, and avoid the traffic fumes altogether.  What’s more, you could call in at one of the new shops en route to buy a paper or coffee.

From David Spencer
Thursday, 14 February 2008

Jim - in reply to my previous post, you say the Car Stacker/parking issue is a red herring.  I strongly disagree.  I have had the "pleasure" of using an underground car park in central Manchester for the past six years - of a broadly similar capacity and entrance space, and I suggest that your timescale for people arriving home / leaving for work is simply denying reality.  

In an apartment block with a single way in and a single way out, it is reasonable to assume the facility must have capacity to cope with its occupants arriving and leaving between the "typical" times (7am and 8:30 am, 5pm and 6:30pm) that most working people follow.

So do the sums - which can only be predictions  based on the published figures, and an assumption of occupants habits.

So lets assume 3/4 of the occupants drive, and of this number, 2/3rds travel to and from work.  Not unreasonable, given the likely ££ of the units.  Lets also forget couples for now, and assume one car per unit.

Based on the most quoted figures that's about 30 - 35 cars per day.

So, assume over a 90 minute period, everyone leaves/arrives evenly - no problem, that's three minutes each.  But is that realistic ? No - not if the traffic patterns in Central Manchester blocks are typical.   More likely is an ebb and flow, as several people ( who start work at 8:30 / finish at 5 ) all leave/arrive at once.

My prediction is frustration in the mornings, as people queue inside the building to leave, and chaos in the evening, as Commercial Street has to accommodate 5 or 6 vehicles lined up awaiting entrance.

I hope not, but it just seems inevitable, given the space available, and the numbers involved.

I may well be wrong - but has there been a traffic flow analysis done by the developers, so we can all look at professionally drawn up stats, and not our own conjecture. I can't see reference to one, so until then, my ad-hoc calculations will stay with me, and I just don't see how its viable to get in and out, in the numbers being suggested.

If they haven't done a proper analysis - why not ?  Its a big problem to dump on a small street. If they have, where is it ?  

And bear in mind none of the above allows for people arriving to use the public Car Park Spaces, which is, I believe, the main reason for the development.

From Penny T
Thursday, 14 February 2008

It could also be argued that all of the people in the new homes work in Hebden Bridge.  They would not need a car, and would free up their 1.5/ house allocated car parking space. This is just as valid an agreement, if it is based on assumption.  The truth is that until the apartments are occupied these calculations cannot be made.

Another argument is assuming each house does have a car and need a parking space, if as David suggest these people all head off for work each morning at 8:30am and return after 5pm, that significantly increases the amount of available spaces available during the day to the visiting public.  

This would mean the scheme meets the criteria of the brief.

From Anthony Rae
Thursday, 14 February 2008

Let's first of all deal with the factual (in)accuracies. In PDF file 217043 drawing 3014 is identified as at Commercial Street level; and the subsequent plans add another four storeys upwards for Block E = 5 in my arithmetic.  Drawing 3030 (in 217050) which Penny is referring to does not identify the Commercial Street level at that point and presents the top two storeys as one. And see also the hopelessly inadequate 3031, which I think is the only continuous elevation drawing for Commercial St.  Of course if the developer had provided a properly detailed set of plans, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.  

The English Heritage comment on the plans is: "We have received drawings at A4 size only, making it difficult to offer detailed comments.  I would urge you (the Council) to ensure that you secure details at an appropriate scale in order to ensure that the impact of the scheme on the conservation area is understood."  Drawing 3030 is at a scale of 1:500; the recommended scale for Full applications is 1:50 or 1:100; and the excellent drawings for the Croft Mill were at 1:100. Still, why would we need or want to know in any degree of accuracy what is proposed to be built in our Conservation Area?

Jim Band says: "In most of the sections it is clearly only 2 storeys. Hardly a tower block." Block A is 2 storeys; B and D are 3 storeys and E 5 storeys.  'Tower block' is his expression but, in that setting, E will be dominant and extremely prominent.

Now on to CABE; and here we have to have some knowledge of what the CABE process is meant to be.  What they have said so far is : "CABE has reviewed the Garden Street scheme - but if a review takes place before the scheme becomes subject of a planning application (as is the case here), the review and CABE’s letter are confidential ... [Please] let us know of any information regarding the content of the review that has been given out". From which I assume (because we are still awaiting clarification) that CABE are anxious to prevent a situation where their preliminary comments are used by developers to apparently suggest support for their scheme.  See Design and Access statement section 6.

On to funding: Penny says "£12.4M worth of private investment in Hebden Bridge, by local businessmen from HB. £12.4M coming from within the town and staying in the town".  I think, actually, that we can assume that the money isn't coming from 'within the town'.

On the stacker, thank goodness that we have a slightly less credulous comment, based on some analysis and experience (David Spencer).  As an initial view, the idea of putting an entrance - to a stacker system! - & exit onto the narrow and pressured Commercial Street strikes me as 'problematic'.

Finally, Jim says: "leaving Garden Street as it stands provides nothing for the community Anthony. In that you are also factually inaccurate."  Not sure what the last sentence means, but my positive proposals for Garden Street are: leave it as a easily accessible surface car park, utilising a difficult strip site. I.e exactly what it is now, and certainly 'providing something for the community'.  Ask all the users, and particularly the traders roundabout.

From Jim Band
Thursday, 14 February 2008

David, Hebden Bridge is nothing like central Manchester. But the main difference is that you are comparing a workplace with a an apartment building.

Therefore, your prediction assumes that everyone living there has a car and uses it to travel to work, and that they all have the same journey time to and from work, and that they start and finish work at the same time. That is completely ridiculous.

Yes, people will arrive at a workplace together at roughly the same designated start time. But the reverse is not true since people work in different locations, start/end their journey at different times, have different journey times. As I have said before, who leaves for or returns from work at the same time (or within a few minutes) of even one or two of their neighbours?

It may happen now and again, but not with the disastrous and frustrating regularity that you describe.

Although, to be fair David, there have been more ridiculous claims made here on the forum. Someone even claimed that the development requires a 30m (10 storey) excavation!

From Andrew Hall
Thursday, 14 February 2008

As Penny T, Anthony Rae et al intimate, we're all working on assumptions and simply don't have the detailed facts needed to make an informed and educated judgement on the Garden Street scheme.

Given that this is the case -  and can anyone really say that it isn't - surely it's best to err on the side of caution and oppose this development until such times as the developers can give us detailed and specific plans.   

If the go ahead is given, and we find out that there are major problems, then of course it will be too late to do much about it. We'll have to live with the consequences for the rest of our lives.

'Too late' and 'if only' are said to be the saddest two phrases in the English language. Let's hope in future years we don't have to use them with reference to Garden Street. 

From Joseph S
Thursday, 14 February 2008

I'm rarely against new developments per se. But usually you get a better idea of what you are signing up to. I'm a bit lost as to why there are no better drawings for us to see, and until that time I think you have to object to it.

Does that sound unreasonable?

From Jacob G
Thursday, 14 February 2008

Penny, I suggest that on your posting about the number of car parking spaces we look at evidence rather than assumptions.  Wherever statistical evidence has been collated, there is a consistent increase in car ownership in line with GDP per capita and salary bracket.  These apartments will not be cheap and, in fact, there is no provision in the plans for affordable housing.  Most employment within Hebden Bridge is in the service sector, which, statistically, is lower paid than average.  The statiscal likelyhood therefore, of someone buying an apartment, that works in Hebden Bridge and doesn't own a car is low.  In fact, residents are extremely likely to commute and own at least one car.

From Jim Band
Friday, 15 February 2008

Anthony, doing nothing with Garden Street provides nothing. Or at least, nothing new, and the users and traders would all agree that the current parking provision in the town centre is inadequate. That is the purpose of this development, to somehow increase the parking provision without extraordinary expenditure. As a non-driving council tax payer, I think this is extemely commendable.

Creating a car park at (either end of?) the outskirts of the town will not stop people looking for and parking in places that are closer to where they want to go, ie. the town centre. If all drivers did not behave this way, there would be little need for double yellow lines. Nor would this decrease the traffic coming through the town, for the same reasons. They would simply be overspill car parks, solving very few of the problems being falsely associated with this development.

Jacob G, it is a complete assumption that owners of these apartments will have more than one car, just as much as it is an assumption to place a high figure on the price of the apartments. Almost every new apartment building is described as luxury these days, it's simply a marketing trick to sell what is essentially the modern equivalent of worker housing in it's level of actual luxury.

Returning to the car ownership assumption. I wonder how many of the residents of The Crofts own more than one car? Your suggestion is no more based on evidence than the notion that the scale (in terms of height) is out of proportion or uncharacteristic in this town. Look around, there a mill buildings all over Hebden that rise three or more storeys from street level. Even the recently refurbished mill adjacent to The Crofts is four storeys at street level. And given the location, on the steep rise up the hillside, a block three storeys above Commercial Street (at one location only) is perfectly in-keeping with the characteristic scale of the traditional buildings which are everywhere in Hebden Bridge. Scale is another red herring.

As far as throwing out the application at this stage as a cautionary measure is concerned, and the lack of information. Well, oddly enough, earlier in this thread there were complaints about how little time there was to absorb the quantity of information the application contained. This is an outline planning application, and the developer has been more informative than perhaps they would need to be in normal circumstances. Technical construction details etc are not even required at this stage of seeking permission. This application deserves the benefit of the doubt for all the reasons I have previously stated. If it is a poorly considered, disastrous proposal (which I doubt very much) it will go no further than the outline planning stage.

From Penny T
Friday, 15 February 2008

I work in the service sector. I rent. why is it beyond recognition that other people like me may want to live (in rented accommodation which there is a significant shortage of) and work in Hebden, and not own a car? Statistical evidence can be used to support  any argument. 31% of people know that.

Looking at the requirement for submission of a planning application. There is a requirement that 4 copies of the drawings are submitted.  Given that one copy is sent to highways, one copy filed, one copy sent to be scanned( for reproduction/ scanning for web page) and one copy for planners to refer to, is it not possible that the A4 scale of the drawings is nothing to do with the applicant?  maybe a paper saving excerxise by Calderdale?

Regarding the issue of there being a single access to the car stacker,  what else would you excpect?  A simple google search has shown me multiple examples of this system working in Europe, and as the letter to the HB Times this evening illustrates, even works in world heritage sites.

I am still concerned at the lack of trust people are giving to Calderdale's planning Inspectors.  Why do people keep asking for information for 'us' to make informed decisions.  Surely that should be the planners' decision?

From David Spencer
Friday, 15 February 2008

Penny - why the all or nothing statements?  It is no more likely that no-one will use/own a car than it would have been to suggest they would all own one, which is why I tried to illustrate the potential problem with a realistic guestimate at occupants car usage and work needs.

I could have made it sound far worse had I assumed everyone drives in and out each day, but this would lack credibility.  Do you honestly think that is probable the occupants will all walk to work?

Also, the residents spaces will not be made public should they not be used by residents - they will be reserved under the lease, and either in a separate area, or marked up as private.  So I'm afraid Jim is likely to be pointing this out as another Red Herring ... or maybe he won't, in this case.

Jim - whether or not a car park is for business or residential use isn't the point - its still a space that needs to be accessed a couple of times a day.  And the civil engineering machines that will park on Commercial Street to do the pilings that hold up the street/hill, and thereby replace the wall, will be working to a depth of c30m - the wall itself is 15m in places, so add in an underground car park, and some utilities, and some underpinning, and it soon adds up.  Of course, this too is conjecture, as the developers still haven't made public any firm plans.

Jim, You said .. "David, Hebden Bridge is nothing like central Manchester. But the main difference is that you are comparing a workplace with a an apartment building. Therefore, your prediction assumes that everyone living there has a car and uses it to travel to work, and that they all have the same journey time to and from work, and that they start and finish work at the same time. That is completely ridiculous. "

However...If you  re-read my post, I actually assumed only 3/4 of the residents own cars, and of these only 1/2 commuted.  And I disregarded couples.  So in truth, I assumed less than 50% of the occupants were using a vehicle, and not "everyone living there", as you suggest.  I actually think its a conservative estimate.

I also allowed a 90 minutes window both am and pm, not "the same time"

Please don't misrepresent my post, and then call it ridiculous.

And, more to the point, where is the experts report so we can discuss an objective, scientific prediction, and not just our own suppositions?

On a general note, its interesting to me that it seems to be the "no thanks" campaigners who are seeking/asking for professional, detailed reports reports on traffic flow, air quality, feasibility, legality issues etc, and the "Yes" camp who seem happy to accept the vague ( and constantly changing ) assurances of the developers.  Why is that ?

From Joanne M
Friday, 15 February 2008

On paper it would seem that people living in that area (based on 2001 census data at super output area level - 004F) are twice as likley to travel more than 5km to work than the rest of Calderdale, their car ownership is only slightly above local and national levels but they are much less likley to own 2 or more cars or vans (trouble parking I guess).

So the only way to develop the site and have no impact of vehicle use would be to say the flats should be sold to people working locally. Which would be impossible. But maybe the people are more likely to use the train, which is why they live in that are and don't need 2 cars - you could easily use statistics to make a case for the development. It looks like that area (at super output level) is commuter heaven. The developers could claim that likley residents would put less of a strain on parking, as long as each flat got one space.

Strange things statistics ;o)

From Ernest Jones
Friday, 15 February 2008

Today is deadline day for the submission of comments, for or against the Garden Street scheme, to Calderdale MBC.  If you have contributed to this thread, or have followed the arguments, please let the council know your views.  If you click on this link , you will reach the comments page.

From Jim Band
Friday, 15 February 2008

As Ernest has said, this is the deadline day for the submission of comments and objections. But if like me, you support the scheme and wish to make that known to Calderdale MBC, then positive comments on the scheme are equally welcome and just as important to the planning process.

From Jacob G
Friday, 15 February 2008

Penny, statistical evidence can, and should be used to support any argument! You appear to be assuming that the apartments will be let, as opposed to owner occupied?

From Jim Band
Friday, 15 February 2008

Lies, damned lies, statistics!

From Lynne T
Friday, 15 February 2008

I understand that Hebden Royd Council have voted against the proposals. Does anybody know who voted and in what way, for/against/abstained?

From Nicola M
Saturday, 16 February 2008

Lynne - the only councillor who voted in favour was a lady called Michelle Foster who represents Birchcliffe Ward - interestingly no profile or details listed on the Council website.  

From Anthony Rae
Saturday, 16 February 2008

Jim says: "Doing nothing with Garden Street provides nothing. Or at least, nothing new, and the users and traders would all agree that the current parking provision in the town centre is inadequate. That is the purpose of this development, to somehow increase the parking provision without extraordinary expenditure. As a non-driving council tax payer, I think this is extemely commendable."

I'm afraid this somewhat simplistic representation of parking policy just ignores all the previous work undertaken by the Traffic Review. For example, it started the routine process of re-allocating parking provision by zone: short stay in the town centre, long stay further out. So one of the purposes of provision at the Station is to create more long stay spaces there, thus releasing more of the existing spaces in the town centre for shoppers. David Fletcher's speech to the Town Council on Wednesday revealed that he has no understanding of this basic point whatsoever.

And when Jim says 'increase the parking provision without extraordinary expenditure', he is missing two important points. 'Increasing by how much?' In fact, the town can have twice as many additional public spaces next week as on reasonable assumptions will be provided by Garden Street. So if you want more public spaces quickly, easily and cheaply, you should be opposing Garden Street.

And 'without extraordinary expenditure' to whom? To name but one: what about the loss of revenue to traders during the development period? And I could continue at greater length about 'understanding the cost of everything, and the value of nothing'.

If we are concerned about people driving around the town looking for spaces, then improve the signing. (And, of course, this problem would remain with Garden Street, because it won't bring a significant increase in public spaces).

Jim also says it's only an Outline application. What Calderdale have stated actually is that the application is Outline "(in name only) with all matters for consideration except Landscaping (and indicative details have been provided of the landscaping of the site). So, essentially, a Full application, but without the additional information the latter would require. Which brings us on to ...

Penny says maybe 'the A4 scale of the drawings is nothing to do with the applicant?' This is to mistake two points. The problem with the elevation drawings is that (i) they are at scale 1:200 and 1:500, whereas they should have been much larger scale; and (ii) some of them are little more than sketches. It's the absence of detail which is at issue.

And then she says: 'Why do people keep asking for information for 'us' to make informed decisions. Surely that should be the planners' decision?' Firstly, the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act established a democratically accountable planning system, one of the lesser-known but great achievements of the Attlee government, which allows communities like ours to have a say in what happens to our town; and what we are seeing in Hebden Bridge at the moment is a wonderful example of that system in action.

Secondly, surely we all ought to have noticed the formal conflict of interest in which Calderdale Council has enmired itself. It is not just local planning authority but also: owner of the site, promoter of the development opportunity, author of the (inadequate) development brief, signatory of the secret development agreement with the applicant, and finally assessor of the application which will make a recommendation to their own committee. Why should we 'trust' them, as you put it, to make a right decision?

As someone who has participated on the inside of the Garden Street process from start to finish, I personally know exactly why we need to question what Calderdale Council is doing.

And if you want a slightly wider context, you might have noticed that their attempts to 'regenerate' the centre of Brighouse have recently collapsed in ignominy. More info

That also should give us pause.

From Lynne T
Saturday, 16 February 2008

Thanks Nicola.  Good to remember at election time!

Anthony says "The 1947 Town and Country Planning Act established a democratically accountable planning system" and then continues to say that Calderdale had a secret development agreement with the applicant.

Maybe I am naive, but like everybody else I thought we lived in a democracy where our council were answerable to their electors. How is it possible for them to have a secret agreement. Surely all meetings are minuted and available to public scutiny so that there can be no accusations of wrong doing?

From Andrew Hall
Sunday, 17 February 2008

Penny T says "I am still concerned at the lack of trust people are giving to Calderdale's planning Inspectors.  Why do people keep asking for information for 'us' to make informed decisions.  Surely that should be the planners' decision?"

I disagree. For a start, planning officers make 'recommendations' (not 'decisions') which the council planning committee can either approve or refuse. Their recommendations are made with due reference to the UDP and consultation with interested parties - various organisations and, yes, members of the public, (and I do know that some planning decisions never reach committee stage, but believe you me, this one will) .

It's absolutely nothing to do with a 'lack of trust' in our planning officers. Far from it. It's more to do with contributing to and assisting with the planning process.

It is undoubtedly true that representations to the planning process are far more likely to be effective if they are informed, objective and with an almost clinical attention to detail. Those based solely on emotion or relying on a rambling and uninformed stream of consciousness will have little, if any, effect.

I can only repeat what I've said before. In the absence of the information we need to decide whether this development is a good or bad thing, we need to err on the side of caution, and oppose it.  To do otherwise is thoughtless and verging on the irresponsible.

(Incidentally, although the official date for representations is now passed, the planning department is able to take into account all representations received until a decision is made on the application).

From Anthony Rae
Sunday, 17 February 2008

Lynne asks: 'How is it possible for them to have a secret agreement?'

Because Calderdale Council are marketing their own site here.  As I said in my previous posting, they have multiple interests in this development, which they are no doubt arguing are not in conflict with each other.

As the site owner, they have entered into a commercially confidential (i.e secret) development agreement with the applicant, which so far they have not agreed to disclose, although we have asked them only to tell us, and the community, what the non-commercially confidential aspects are.

It was only at our meeting with Group Director Ian Thompson on Monday, when we put to him a list of 30 questions that we felt needed answering, that it was disclosed for the first time that the Council is contractually committed to sell the site to the developer should they (the Council) grant them planning permission.  This therefore means that the Council's hands are already tied; for example, they cannot decide to withdraw the Garden Street site should they now change their minds and conclude that it is not in the public interest to proceed with the development.

But that's just one clause. What about all the other clauses in the agreement that we don't know about? For example, if the scheme doesn't proceed for any reason, is the developer entitled to compensation from the Council? How does the Council stand to benefit financially from the development?  When it sells the car park site to the developer how much money will it receive, compared that is to its value in their asset register, which might be a historic figure?  Will it receive any other financial benefit such as a profit share?  Are there any obligations placed on the developer which the community ought to know about?  And so on.

These questions are not rumour mongering  or speculation, intended to suggest that the Council is in some way 'up to no good'.  If they had been prepared to reveal, even in general terms, the basis of their agreement with the developer, then we would all know where they stood. But it isn't any accident that there has been no contact at all with the community by Calderdale officers since the 'preferred bidders' consultation in 2004/5.

It is only a reasonable conclusion that they did not and don't want the community to appreciate, until it is too late, that the Council also had a commercial interest in the development taking place.  A year or so ago, people were up in arms because various Calderdale assets in Hebden Bridge were being flogged off before people realised it.  In one sense, Garden Street is just a continuation of that process.

If that isn't the case, why haven't they asked the community directly whether we want this development in its present form or not?

From David Spencer
Sunday, 17 February 2008

My previous posts have centered on my real concern that the scheme as outlined is an impractical, disproportionatley expensive and unsuitable way of addressing Hebdens parking problem.  Also that there is so little info forthcoming about such a major building.

However, having read further - particularly the posts from Anthony and Andrew, I am also increasingly concerned by the seemingly grey areas around planning law, and the uncomfortably close relationship between the council and developer.

I truly hope that the way it looks at face value is not the way it actually is.

It's ridiculous the process is so blurred - because if so many guidelines / good practice / laws have been contravened - as it seems -  there will,  I suspect, be some very concerned people in the council offices, as objections grow daily, and more things come to light.

Not least, will the market value be paid for prime town centre land ?  Why was this land not available to the highest bidder, who exactly was involved in the initial decision to sell, etc etc ??

From Frank W
Sunday, 17 February 2008

In respect of the lack of information from Calderdale/their reluctance to supply this, I have been told that there is such a person as a Local Government Ombudsman. If there is could not he/she be contacted about this affair and requested to tell Calderdale to supply the information that we, as residents and council tax payers, have a right to?

From Andrew Hall
Sunday, 17 February 2008

David Spencer is right to be concerned. I always have been, but am even more so after Anthony Rae's excellent last post here.

Mr Rae's comments concern me deeply. Why are we not being given all the facts? What cosy deals are being done behind closed doors? Who stands to gain? And who will lose out? And how on earth do you reconcile 'secret agreements' with so called 'open government'?

Above all, why on earth aren't our elected representatives really taking issue here?   

Secrecy breeds gossip, rumour and mistrust. We know Calderdale Council is witholding information from us. Why?

I am not yet cynical enough to believe that, when this application comes to Committee, it will not be treated rationally, dispassionately and with regard to community opinion. If I'm right, the planning committee can only refuse this application. If I'm wrong then heaven help democracy. We certainly don't want another T Dan Smith in Calderdale.

From Jacob G
Monday, 18 February 2008

Further to Anthony Rae's posting that refers to the Brighouse fiasco, it is also interesting to look at the related accusations of Calderdale Council's fraudulent activity in this matter.  This surely calls their impartiality into question?

From Jim Band
Monday, 18 February 2008

The public have been given all the information regarding this development that they are entitled to by the planning application process, perhaps even a great deal more than the developer was obliged to.

Suggestions of clandestine or illegal activities are nothing but dangerous speculation and should be treated as such unless Mr. Rae or anyone else can prove otherwise. Alluding to such behaviour is another desperate attempt to win the grudge match which several people seem to be waging against the developers.

From Lynne T
Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Jim If you are an ordinary member of the general public with no insider information, how can you possibly know without a shadow of a doubt that the public has been given all the information to which they are entitled?

In a democracy people are allowed to ask questions and anyone in a postion of authority should never fear this.... unless of course they have somethinmg to hide.

From Charlie B
Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Well said, Lynne. Spot on

From Jacob G
Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Jim, as I am sure you will acknowledge, this development is an issue which people are very passionate about, if not for it to go ahead, then certainly to oppose it or see it significantly revised.  I am sure the 'public' have been given all the information to which they are entitled by the planning information process, but, the details of Calderdale Council's relationship with the developers over the sale of the land, and subsequent financial arrangements is relevant and one that may call into question the Council's impartiality.

Has anyone written to the Council asking for details, which they should be obliged to provide them under the Freedom of Information Act?

From Charlie B
Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I have just checked the progress of the application on the Calderdale Planning web-page and see that 451 'representations' have been received from the public. I assume that the majority of them are to oppose the scheme, and hope Calderdale realises the folly of the scheme.

Thanks to everyone (who did) for sending in objections.

From Anthony Rae
Sunday, 17 February 2008

I've been unwell for the last few weeks, which is the only reason for this delayed response to Jim Band's posting of 18th Feb, which commented on mine of the 17th.

Where he says: "Suggestions of clandestine or illegal activities are nothing but dangerous speculation and should be treated as such unless Mr. Rae or anyone else can prove otherwise".  Jim Band ought to understand that to accuse organisations (and by implication, individuals) of acting illegally - which is what he has in effect done, because I certainly did not - is a very serious issue. The idea that Calderdale Council has acted illegally in relation to Garden Street is absurd.

Jim Band also states that (i) the campaign is a 'grudge match against the developers' - but no evidence for this claim is cited; and (ii) that the public 'have been given all the information to which they are entitled by the planning process' - not true, as the Council has already conceded.

As with all such complicated issues, it is difficult enough concentrating on the facts without having to deal with the fictions as well.

See Courier letter, 10th March 2008

See also

Courier, 16th Jan 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