A document leaked to the Hebden Bridge Web shows information previously not available to the public, including the facts that the Council would have sold Garden Street to David Fletcher for £1 and hoped subsequently to receive up to £400,000 from the development project.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Hebden Bridge Web has obtained a copy of the confidential report considered by Calderdale Council in October 2005 when they approved the selection of the developer for the Garden Street scheme. The report, written by the Council's head of regeneration Adrian Rose, is part of the information that the Council has hitherto refused to make public on the grounds that it was commercially confidential.

The report reveals that:

  • Despite the fact that it states that "the proposal has proved to be controversial and some objections have been received to the principle of any redevelopment", and that it includes 20 pages of comments from the public consultation in February-March 2005 deeply critical of all three proposed schemes as being out of character and on too large a scale in Hebden Bridge, the officers found a way to ignore these objections and instead to recommend pressing ahead with the scheme. This was that "the preferred developer will be expected to undertake a public consultation exercise over several months" and "thus have the task of working with the community to try to come up with a satisfactory proposal". The report did not also clearly state that the public consultation had rejected all three schemes by very large majorities in each of 5 categories.

  • The officers did identify another option for the Council to consider: "... not to proceed with any redevelopment of the site at this time. This would mean that one of the only apparent options for increasing short stay car parking in the centre of Hebden bridge would not be realised". As reported by the Hebden Bridge Web on 17th October (News in Brief), after planning permission had been refused, the Council has in fact proposed to increase short stay parking simply by limiting the length of stay in the existing surface car park.

  • The Council anticipated making a profit of around £400,000 from the development. However this might only be obtained right at the end of the development period; at the start the developer would be given the site for free - well, a nominal payment of £1.

  • The report also contains the 'heads of terms' for the development agreement between the Council and the developer. The scheme is identified as 'high risk'; any financial return to the Council for the site and its development potential would be deferred until construction is completed and the residential units sold, with the possibility that in certain circumstances, the Council might not receive any payment. HSBC are identified as bankers for the scheme.

See full report - (PDF 6.5 mb)

Scanned from the report into web pages:

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