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Development at Mytholm Works

From Roger N

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

At this evening's Planning Committee meeting the members went against the recommendations of their Planning Officers to refuse the development, and voted instead to defer the decision, pending further information. They have requested that the applicants provide a full retail impact assessment. The other (and apparently lesser) concern was about the ecological impact of the development.

Cllr Battye spoke broadly in favour of the development, particularly with regard to the proposed hotel. Members of the Planning Committee generally thought there were many positive aspects of the development, but given the importance of such a major planning application, were unable to reach a decision without further information.

Objectors were represented by an agent speaking on behalf of the Co-op and Jenny Shepherd, on behalf of several local groups. The applicant was represented by Roger Lee, former Calderdale Planning Officer and now working as a consultant.

From Susan Quick

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Calderdale MBC Deputy Chair Janet Battye speaks in favour of the Brown's site development for supermarket and hotel at the Planning Committee meeting Tuesday December 4th.

I was shocked and disturbed to witness Janet Battye take to the stage as an invited speaker in favour of the proposals. As an elected member of the Council does she listen to her constituents? There are, of course, differing opinions, but the over-riding view is against. Calderdale Planning received and published 63 detailed letters of objection and only 19 much shorter letters of support.

Friends of Mytholm had invited Janet Battye to Chair the public discussion which they hosted at the Stubbing Wharf pub on Sunday 14th October, following which Incredible Edible Mytholm came into being. Janet Battye did not even bother to attend the meeting; she simply popped in for half an hour to distribute leaflets about her own meeting - she had invited the architects to present their case.

Both meeting were packed. During lively discussion many members of the public voiced strong, and loud!, objections to the proposals. I fear that Councillor Battye does not listen to her constuents and I certainly won't be voting for her.

The Planning Committee deferred their decision, requiring a retail impact assessment for the supermarket. Issues included an assessment for the supermarket: how would it affect the vitality and viability of Hebden Bridge town centre? Would people just drive in, shop and go? The developers had previously refused to conduct such an assessment. Now they have no choice! More information was also requested about the impact on the environment. Was the hydro-power station greenwash? It might potentially damage the recovering ecosystem. Other issues included the fact that the site is a flood plain; traffic density and absence of pedestrian footpaths and crossings.

I trust that Councillor Battye shares the Planning Committee's concerns.

From Roger N

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

I'm surprised that more concerns weren't raised over the traffic that the development would generate. This is obviously not a planning issue.

I think the retail impact assesment will be very much in the developer's favour, and I have to say, for good reason. Most people I know in Hebden Bridge do two sorts of shopping. They do a 'trolley shop' and a 'local shop'. The trolley shop is where you go to Tesco or Asda in Halifax, or Lidl and Morrisons in Todmorden and do the bulk of your essential commodity shopping. The 'local shop' is a topping up exercise, where you go to those shops usually knowing you may pay a bit more but you'll get good quality - the two butchers and the greengrocers for example. This is a pattern that so many people follow. To have a decent supermarket slightly nearer to home would simply mean that the 'trolley shoppers' needn't do a round trip of 10-20 miles, and they'd still frequent the shops in Hebden.

The vast majority of shops in Hebden Bridge - the endless gift shops, the book shops, the cafes etc - would simply not be affected by another supermarket. The Co-op certainly would, but they've been resting on their laurels for too long and need a bit of healthy competition. Every time I go in that place I regret it, rarely finding everything I need and, as a result, having to drive up to Morrisons in Tod to make up the shortfall. Rather than employ an agency to find reasons not to have another supermarket in town, as sadly the Co-op have, they should rise to the challenge.

The other salient point in favour of a new supermarket is Calderdale's new local plan, which envisages another 250 plus houses needed in our town (more if you follow Anthony Rae's argument in a different thread). The Co-op is heavily overtrading as it is, and really could not cope with the extra business (even simply in terms of the hopelessly inadequate car park). The alternative to another supermarket in Hebden Bridge is that many more people will clog up the roads to Tod, Keighley and Halifax.

As for the 'eco' argument about bats roosting in underground tunnels and deer grazing on the land, I really do think this is the opponents grasping at straws. There is no way that deers should be encouraged onto a site next to a major road. And no bat in its right mind would roost below ground in a potential flood plain.

Let's hope common sense prevails. Cllr Battye spoke up in favour, realising that Hebden Bridge really does need to progress. She is so right. Let us hope the stasis that some wish to inflict on Hebden Bridge is tempered by the fact that some of us actually want the town to succeed and prosper.

From Margaret Boyle

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

I was at the Planning Committee last night and found Janet Battye's support for the proposal very hard to follow. Perhaps she might like to explain her position? Apparently she thinks it would solve Hebden's parking problems by providing scope for a park and ride scheme to town and ease congestion on Church Lane by providing parking for the school. She is positively in favour of a hotel because it would increase visitors and footfall into the town centre. Not a squeak about the biggest element of the proposed development, a supermarket for an undisclosed end user, measuring 2,140 sq metres or whether it would undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre as the Planning Officer fears. Not a squeak either about the environmental impacts of the hydroelectric proposal. Battye was speaking as a Ward councillor and as such should have had a broader vision of the future of the town and given more respect and consideration to the Planning Officer's report.

The deferrment gives the developers another 4 weeks to carry out a robust retail needs assessment on the supermarket element and deal with the enviromental objections to the hydroelectic power station element. They will make interesting reading. As I understand the proposal, the three elements are submitted as one integrated proposal and therefore at some point councillors will have to consider the impact of the whole proposal rather than acting as if they could be disaggregated as Battye has chosen to do.

From Stephen Curry

Friday, 7 December 2012

Margaret Boyle was right to point out the deception going on here. Lets just examine what has happened to the debate on this proposed development since last year, and up until it was clear that there was serious opposition from some residents to the supermarket. The focus had been on a development described as a "Supermarket and Hotel". Hey presto! suddenly we are hearing it is about a Hotel which is greatly needed and the supporters, including it would seems our elected representative Janet Battye, keeping quiet about he supermarket and its lack of a retail impact assessment.

The hope seems to have been that Cllrs. and planning officers would be so swayed by the apparent desperate need for a Hotel, that they would allow the developer to sneak a supermarket in by stealth. In some ways they have been successful in persuading all and sundry that we need a hotel. "Yes of course we need a hotel we are a tourist town and a hotel will bring more people into the town!" Wow! if that is all there is to marketing and it is a certain successful strategy, then where can I buy the hotel shares? I really wish it was so, as nobody has campaigned as hard to get a better long-term visitor economy strategy for Hebden than I have over recent years. The truth is our visitor economy is a little more complex than the hotel applicant and the uninformed supporters would have you believe.

After the floods I worked with our local Tourist Information Centre to identify the number of beds available to cover the loss of Moyles, Holme House and Bar Place. The people who say there is a shortage of accommodation will be surprised to know we identified more than enough beds to cope with the immediate demand. What is now surprising is that neither the applicant conducted, or are required by Calderdale to conduct, a similar economic impact on town centre hospitality businesses or an audit of existing beds for the hotel proposal.

One thing missing from the planning officer's report were any comments from Calderdale's Tourism Officer, despite them being listed as consultees. To my knowledge the tourism officer agrees that there should be at least a full audit to the bed stock and its occupancy levels before any consideration be given to the proposal. Despite our differences over visitor economy strategy for Hebden she kindly sent me a copy of the 'Calderdale Hotel Futures' research document of 2010. And I have bored myself silly reading all 118 pages. I can find no evidence in that document to support the belief that Hebden Bridge needs or is projected (economic growth) to require a new 100 + bed hotel. The nearest they come to a recommendation is "Scope for further small boutique hotels and good quality pub accommodation establishments in Hebden Bridge" (and they mean town centre!)

So yes I share the dismay of others that Cllr Battye was so in favour of the hotel, as it was Janet that alerted me to the existence of the above report. Had she read it she might not have the simplistic belief that a hotel will attract more visitors and coach parties. Which is possibly being confused with an application for a TRO to allow 3 hours coach parking for day trippers.

Ironically I indicated a few years ago on this forum that, overnight visitors put more money into the local economy that day trippers. The hotel supporters are happily using that to make their case. Unfortunately they forgot to mention you need investment and a marketing strategy over a significant period of time to increase the demand. And building a hotel before there is real demand, is just going to take market share not increase the size of the market.

However folks don't let me distract you too! The Hotel is not the major issue of the development, the Supermarket is. Don't let the supporters lull you into a "Hotel is needed" comfort zone as they have done with the planning committee.

From Anthony Rae

Sunday, 9 December 2012

I have now received and found the time to analyse the additional traffic count information that the developer and their transport consultant kindly agreed to provide. This quantifies traffic flows in both directions along the A646 covering the entirety of a peak day (market day Thursday) from 7am-7pm - and not just the single 5-6pm peak hour - so we can examine the impacts across the day, and which distinguishes between two types of additional traffic: ordinary growth to 2019 that would happen in any case and not associated with the supermarket, and then traffic generated by the supermarket itself. It is the latter proportion that will be using the new junction to enter and exit the site. You will recall from my previous postings (in the other thread) that Calderdale Council did not require this more comprehensive traffic information to be provided.

What it now reveals is that by 2019 (that is, in 7 years) 12-hour traffic past the site will have increased as a result of ordinary growth + new supermarket traffic by 30%. In terms of numbers, around 8650 vehicles along the A646 (in both directions) in 2011 increases to around 11250 in 2019. Of that daily increase of 2600 vehicles, 72.5% or 1885 vehicles will be associated with the supermarket development and will use the new junction.

Some of these will be existing 'shopping journeys' that would have ended somewhere else but which now choose to shop at the new Hebden supermarket. The consultant is assuming that these represent some 700 of those 1885 vehicles - which seems a large number for such a limited supermarket offer to remove – but if you remove that 'duplication', the increase to 2019 is 22%.

The vehicles accessing the site build up after the morning peak on the A646 to a plateau of around 170-190 an hour by noon (or 110-120 in the second scenario), before starting to drop off after 6pm.

What I commented on 16th November in relation to the overall impact of such increases on both Hebden town centre and the A646 was that: "… for whatever reason, the Council has not routinely been assessing the potential for the planning applications, whether housing or employment, to progressively 'fill up' the A646 with traffic to such a point that congestion on this critical route along the Upper Calder Valley starts to impact upon the economic viability of the settlements along it, and on the road users including buses that have to use it. I'm not saying that we are at a point of 'gridlock on the A646' but …".

What the Highways Officer has said in response to this point is: "It is standard practice in most applications and appeals that only the worst potential scenario would be assessed and in this case [that] is outside the site where traffic would be most intense. As the computer modelling found [that] to be satisfactory then it follows that that further away from the site [e.g in the town centre bottleneck] where traffic is more dispersed then this too must be accepted as having little impact." Consequently the report considered on 4th December concluded: "There will also be reduced mileage by diverting trolley shopping from stores in Todmorden or further afield. … It therefore complies with the broad objectives of the Council's transportation policy".

Notice that assumption: that traffic, for example in Hebden centre or approaching the town, will be 'more dispersed' and therefore have 'little impact'. You have to question this judgement, particularly when it's allied to a failure to also assess the cumulative effect of successive traffic generating development approvals combined with ordinary traffic growth. What the developer's own figures show is that, within a few years, traffic on the A646 at this location will have increased by 22-30%, with most ascribed to the new supermarket and hotel use; but apparently that doesn't matter.

Do we agree?

From Cllr Janet Battye

Monday, 10 December 2012

Many thanks to the contributors to this discussion and for the opportunity to explain my position on this.

I know that the future of this site has been around for some time, and the representatives of the applicants have had various meetings with people - ward Councilors, the community, the Town Council etc. I have also done a small survey which revealed very different views of local people.

This is a difficult to site to make any productive use of because of the flooding possibilities - but it also presents a good opportunity.

Although I am a supporter of integrated transport encouraging people not to use their cars, I have long advocated the need for a sizeable car park at either end of Hebden Bridge - the station and this site. Both sites would provide what I describe as a "natural" park and ride because they are both on frequent bus routes.

I also see many advantages in a hotel on this site - we have good and well-used Bed and Breakfast places and small hotels, we know that people spend two and a half times as much is they stay overnight, and a sizeable hotel would enable us to accommodate more visitors especially for our growing conference and events market. I particularly quoted the Town Crier event in August when they wanted to stay together but we had nowhere suitable.

I also welcome the parking provision for the school - this idea came from the children to help get cars off Church Lane and Eaves Rd which is a growing problem as the school is better used.

I share many of the concerns about the potential impact of another supermarket on local shops which is why I think that it is important that the retail impact assessment is completed and we have time to examine it.

I arranged the public meeting with the representatives of the Planning Dept and the applicants at the request of local people so that they could explain what it is happening and answer questions.

And I attended the Planning Cttee in my role as ward Councillor which I'm entitled to do. My qualified support for the scheme represents my views and, I believe, the mixed views of local people. Indeed, when I got to the Ward Forum meeting, a resident immediately asked me if I support the scheme because he does !

From Myra James

Monday, 10 December 2012

I was present at the planning committee meeting which deferred its decision on the application pending submission of a retail impact assessment. I listened with interest to Councillor Battye's comments because I largely agreed with what she said about the need for a hotel in Hebden Bridge to meet the needs of visitors attending festivals, weddings and conferences.

However, I do not take the rather extraordinary leap from that point of view to support a supermarket presented as part of the application, with all the risks that it presents to our town. The Calderdale planning officer recommended rejection of the application on grounds of risk to the vitality and viability of the town centre. That risk seems all the greater in light of Anthony Rae's assessment of predicted traffic growth arising from the development.

It is expected that the application will not be considered again until the April meeting of the planning committee. So now is the time for everyone who objects to this applicaton to get their comments in. It looks as though the facility to log comments on the Calderdale website has been re-opened.

From John Rhodes

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Cllr Battye is being disingenuous. It is not possible to support part of this scheme. You either support it all or not at all: there is no third way.

One wonders why we now have to wait for a retail impact assessment when the developer initially refused to provide one when asked to do so by the planning department.

When Sainsbury's were turned down for the Burnley Road site Cllr Battye wrote to the Todmorden News (22 August 2011) to say that it was, "a decision I fully support because of concerns about pulling trade away from the town centre." When Calderdale's own planning officers reach the same conclusion in Hebden Bridge Councillor Battye ignores their professional advice to support the development.

Councillor Battye claims to be acting in the best interests of the town but I find it surprising that involves rejecting the advice of planning officers who have expressed concerns that this development will compromise the vitality and viability of Hebden Bridge town centre businesses.

If Battye wants a hotel and not a supermarket then she should be campaigning to reject this application and working to persuade the developer to provide a hotel. Alternatively, she could support Incredible Edible Mytholm's plans for an eco development which would include the hotel she says she favours.

From Susan Quick

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

At mid-day on Christmas Eve traffic was backed up from the Heptonstall junction traffic lights past the Stubbing Wharf pub, as far as the Savile Road junction. I was on the Heptonstall bus. Fortunately a car driver did allow us to exit from the turning circle. After all we were a bus. Not just another car.

There were no road works, just Christmas shoppers. Will Councillor Janet Battye please tell us how she anticipates King Street will cope with traffic levels generated by the new supermarket and hotel, whose development she ardently supports?

From Pedro de Wit

Friday, 28 December 2012

Traffic backs up on the main road because of the parking spaces in front of the shops. If these parking spaces are used on both sides the main road becomes a single lane. Getting rid of these parking spaces will do more to solve traffic issues than refusing planning permission to a scheme that helps the local economy and puts wasteland to good use. I can only assume that the people worried about the increase of traffic do their weekly shopping on foot or get Ocado to deliver it to their ivory towers.

From Graham Barker

Friday, 28 December 2012

Pedro - Getting rid of the parking spaces would turn Market Street into a speedway. It's the only measure currently in place that does anything to enforce our joke of a 20mph limit.

From Pedro de Wit

Friday, 28 December 2012

Graham, this is a different discussion but placing obstacles on the road never ever improves safety. It causes accidents, it increases noise and air pollution and it annoys drivers which in turn leads to higher risks . And maybe worse of all traffic jams keep people away from Hebden.

See also

HebWeb Forum: Hebden Supports new Supermarket and Hotel plan?

HebWeb News: Planners recommend refusal of plans (27 November 2012)

HebWeb Forum: Brown's site (July-Oct 2012)

Planning Watch

HebWeb News: Public Meeting at Stubbing Wharf (October 2012)

HebWeb Forum: Brown's site (March-May 2012)