Hebden Royd Town Council has voted to refuse a planning application for a Sainsbury’s Local and five townhouses on the old fire station site on Valley Road.
The Councillors’ grounds for refusal include:
- traffic, parking and highways issues
- flood risk assessment
- the need for a retail impact assessment
- over-intensification of the site, in a conservation area
- lack of conformity with nature and identity of the town
- overlooking other properties
Cllr Davenport spoke in favour of the Sainsbury’s Local, on the grounds that it would benefit people on low incomes by driving down the cost of grocery shopping and providing much-needed jobs.
The Mayor, Cllr Karl Boggis, reminded the meeting that the Town Council is a statutory consultee for CMBC, they can say what they like, but CMBC doesn’t have to take any notice.
Cllr Robin Dixon also reminded the meeting that the Council’s refusal of permission for a planning application carries very little weight, since it only counts as one letter of objection.
Cllr Dixon urged members of the public, who had crowded into the Council chamber, to each write a letter of objection to Calderdale Council, based on the planning issues identified at this meeting.
Cllr Bampton Smith said that she thought the planning application would go to the CMBC Planning Committee, but to make sure, the public need to ask one of the Calder ward Councillors to request that the Calderdale Planning Officer puts the planning application to the CMBC Planning Committee, rather than making the decision himself.
The three Calder Ward Councillors are:
Cllr Dave Young
Cllr Janet Battye
Cllr Nader Fekri
Hebden Bridge SOS objection
The agenda item opened with an objection from a member of the public, Dave Brooks, who was speaking for himself and for Hebden Bridge SOS (Save Our Shops). He recapped the objections made by Hilary Chadwick on behalf of HBSOS at the previous HR Town Council meeting, and went on to object to the planning application on grounds that included:
- the planning application makes no mention of the town’s historical and cultural nature, as a “quirky” town of small, independent shops that are a source of significant tourist trade
- a Sainsbury’s Local will lead to closures of local shops as their profits fall, and “in short order we will lose everything that is special about the town”
- the situation has changed since the previous planning application for the site, with planning permission for a new supermarket on Brown’s Field/the Mytholm Works site, and a 45% increas in the floor area of the Sainsbury’s Local shop
- the planning application doesn’t say how 5 deliveries of 11 metre lorries a day will avoid busy times in the town, without disturbing residents at night, and the lorries are too big for the town
He urged the Town Council to reject the planning application in order to protect the town’s integrity, road safety and identity.
Questioning the development in terms of planning law
Cllr Timbers said that some of Dave’s ideas could be modified to question the development within the terms of planning law, and to say that it’s not acceptable.
He picked out these issues:
- Vehicle loading/unloading on the street, in front of Hebden Bridge Town Hall
- The “wholly unconvincing” claim that the shop won’t create more traffic but will rely on walk-past shoppers
- Unacceptable lack of additional parking
- There are grounds for asking CMBC to require a retail impact assessment. These include the fact that the town’s economic viability depends on being a centre of independent retailing; the shop’s location will have an impact on this aspect of Hebden Bridge’s economy (also including weddings), and the Brown’s Field supermarket development has been approved. These considerations make this an exceptional case and are grounds for asking for a retail impact assessment, despite the fact that usually only out of town developments require a retail impact assessment.
- The Flood Risk Assessment is the same as the one from 2007, before the 2012 floods. This needs updating, and the plans for the new buildings should include flood cellars since the town is likely to flood substantially in the future
- The five houses are quite tall and raise the issue of overshadowing and overlooking other properties
- Need more info about whether the supermarket fences and gates are appropriate for the area
Cllr Timbers concluded by saying that he was against the planning application on the grounds of parking, loading and unloading.
Cllr Baker said,
“People should be free to pick and choose what shops they use,”
But he thought that Cllr Timbers was right about the parking and loading/unloading issues. The shop needed a proper loading bay, since there is no street parking there for the shop to load/unload.
Cllr Press said that in her view, the retail impact assessment was key, and asked whether Cllr Timbers was saying that the RIA was needed now, before CMBC makes its decision.
Cllr Timbers said that he thought the planning application couldn’t be considered without a retail impact assessment on the economic impacts on the town.
Cllr Bampton Smith said that there was a highways issue – the roads weren’t suitable for the use the supermarket would demand. She added,
“I just can’t imagine the traffic on market days. How are the lorries going to get up the road?”
There was also the issue of the impact on the conservation area from the over-intensification of the site, and the fact that the development goes against the identity of the area as a quirky town of independent shops and a tourist centre. Cllr Bampton Smith said,
“The development doesn’t conform to the nature of Hebden Bridge as it is known to its residents, visitors and the world.”
Cllr Fearon said that the proposed development was in the creative quarter of the town, and that,
“This is the creative hub. It’s not just about the shops, it’s against the whole ethos of what we’re trying to create in Hebden Bridge.”
Cllr Timbers said that if Sainsbury’s builds on the site, this would shift the centre of the town away from Bridge Gate, and CMBC Planning Committee needs to explicitly consider the implications of what he called,
“a permanent migration of the town’s shopping centre into a residential area of town”.
Cllr Dixon said that Sainsbury’s Local in Mytholmroyd has its own delivery bay and five parking spaces, the lorries come straight off the main road and it’s fine – but not in Hebden Bridge. There are highways issues and the height of the houses is an issue. He said that he wasn’t very keen on it and had to come out against it.
Support for Sainsbury’s Local in Hebden Bridge
Cllr Davenport said that she was going to be unpopular, but she supported the planning application and was in favour of Sainsbury’s Local coming in.
Commenting on Hebden Bridge’s independent shops, Cllr Davenport said,
“I can’t afford to shop there. Neither can a lot of other people.”
Addressing members of the public who objected to the planning application, Cllr Davenport said that the recent opening of Tesco One Stop had benefitted people who work for minimum wage.
“One Stop now provides a lot more food and it’s a lot cheaper. It’s brought competition to the Coop, which is very expensive. If you’d closed down One Stop, that would have been 20 people out of work. I need work, we need more work, we’re not skilled, we haven’t been to university. You don’t know our names, we just clear up after you.”
Addressing the issue of parking and deliveries, Cllr Davenport pointed out that One Stop doesn’t have parking, Oasis doesn’t have parking spaces for deliveries, neither does Fleur de Lys which has deliveries from a massive lorry. But they manage.
On the issue of the impact of a Sainsbury’s Local on the town’s independent shops, Cllr Davenport said,
“If you’re worried that this supermarket is going to come in and close down shops, that means you’re not supporting the local independent shops.”
She pointed out numerous instances where people who spoke out against supermarkets and in favour of local independent shops nonetheless bought books from Amazon and online groceries from supermarkets.