Growing Futures – formerly known as Incredible Edible Mytholm

Here is the homepage for Growing Futures. It outlines the Growing Futures business plan and how we produced it.

And here is the Growing Futures blog.

Business plan

Growing Futures have some cracking ideas for a community-owned, sustainable food and low carbon business, that will also form an exciting eco attraction on the brownfield Mytholm Works site on the edge of Hebden Bridge.

The community-owned, permaculture-based business will:

  • create around 50 full time, living wage jobs
  • connect local people and visitors with food (planting it, growing it, cooking/processing it and eating it), through a 1 acre, indoor permaculture market garden
  • connect local people and visitors with nature – rain gardens showing how to reduce flood risk, and children’s natural play areas
  • build on the site’s legacy as an engineering works by providing managed workspace for closed loop, restorative manufacturing, and bringing out the mad inventor in people
  • build and work in green buildings that are highly resource and energy efficient, both in their construction and use (including an eco hotel for visitors and students on residential courses)
  • lots of hands-on activities and learning for all ages – infants to senior citizens
  • We initially called this proposed business Growing Futures, and seem to be going through various working titles – most recently, Green Food Adventures -as our ideas develop! We’ll settle on a good, final name soon.

We have a problem though – Calderdale Planning Committee has  approved the site owners’ planning application for a supermarket and hotel on the site.

But the management committee decided at the 16th Dec meeting that IEM would carry on with our plans and negotiate with the site owners about buying the site – unless there actually are buyers who plan to develop the supermarket and hotel.

If you’d like to get involved, or have ideas about what to do in the face of the approved planning application for the supermarket & hotel, please email the Growing Futures Secretary. And you can keep up to date with current activities on the Growing Futures blog.

Market research

Thanks to a grant from the Plunket Foundation, which funded a social enterprise to work with us for three days over the summer, we finished working out our outline business plan.

We needed to find out if people actually want to visit the proposed eco-attraction, so we asked people to tell us via this market research survey – which is now closed. And we did some live, face-to-face market research one Saturday in St George’s Square too. We’ve analysed the responses and they’re looking good.

Creating a fair, sustainable food system

Growing Futures focusses on how to create a fair, sustainable food system, and help the Upper Calder Valley to make the transition to a low carbon economy, while preserving and enhancing biodiversity.

Evidence suggests that agro-ecology/permaculture methods will be central to a fair, sustainable food system, so at the heart of the eco attraction, IncredibleEdible Mytholm sees an intensive, agroecology market garden, mostly in attractively-designed growing halls that will create an intriguing profile for this “gateway” site to the town.

Other aspects of the eco attraction will link out from the agroecology market garden and include

  • sustainable food/low carbon education and training
  • managed workspace/incubator for low carbon, closed loop businesses – probably but not necessarily involved with agroecology engineering/technology and sustainable food processing/distribution
  • rain gardens and children’s nature play areas
  • eco hotel and glamping site

What we’re doing to make Growing Futures happen

A Members’ & Supporters’ meeting was held on 30th September 2013, in the Hebden Bridge Town Hall Terrace Room. Members discussed and voted unanimously in favour of the outline business plan and the proposal to change IEM into a Community Benefit Society and Development Trust.

Members’ meetings are open to the public as well as IEM members and supporters, but only Members can vote.

Surveyor’s site valuation, thanks to Community Fund For Calderdale Grant

We had the Mytholm Works site valued by a surveyor who is a member of the Chartered Institute of Surveyors. This work was paid for with a grant from the Community Fund For Calderdale.

It is important that we have this formal, professional valuation of the site, since this is a vital piece of information for the business plan, which includes the cost of buying the site.

The initial valuation was based on the  situation before Calderdale Council gave planning permission for a supermarket and hotel on the Mytholm Works site.

The then-Incredible Edible Mytholm opposed the site owners’ speculative planning application for a supermarket and hotel on the site, when it came to the Planning Committee in December 2013.

After planning permission was approved, the surveyor revalued the site for us. Of course the value had rocketed. But site value is like the length of a piece of string. In the end it’s what people will pay for the site – and now, November 2015,  nearly two years on from the planning permission being granted, no one has so far been willing to buy the site. So maybe it’s not worth that much after all.

Business plan working group

The then-IEM management committee fact checked all the figures and assumptions in the Outline Business Plan, to make sure that the proposals are economically viable.

But in December 20913, when Calderdale Council granted planning permission for the site owners’ proposals for a supermarket and hotel, this whacked up the estimated site value and threw out the basis for the costings in our Outline Business Plan. At this point we retired from the fray to figure out our next step. Which was to hibernate the group.

To work out the Outline Business Plan, the IEM Management Committee met three times with a social enterprise consultant, and then worked throughout the summer of 2013 to draft the Outline Business Plan. This was a shedload of work and we were pleased that we  produced the draft, which Members supported unanimously  at the 30th September 2013 Members’ Meeting.

A very useful Coop Simply Start Up training day helped  the  IEM management committee understand what was involved in creating a business plan.  A thorough SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of the sustainable food business proposals, carried out at the start of the business planning process, led the group to revise some of our original ideas, and to change the name. A new concept paper summarised this revision.

Fun public consultation day March 2013

At the end of March 2013 we held a fun, well-attended Field Day where at least 180 members of the public and several Hebden Royd Town councillors and Calderdale Councillors found out more about our plans, and fair, sustainable food, as well as stirring their own suggestions and questions into the mix. Thanks to Hebden Royd Town Council for the grant to cover the costs of the event.

Positive responses to Growing Futures plans

The then-IncredibleEdible Mytholm discussed its  plans with Calderdale Council Planning Department, Dennis Deakin (representing the Mytholm Works site owners), the three Calder Ward Councillors, Hebden Royd Town Council, over 80 town centre businesses, two cooperative business advisers, a surveyor, residents at the nearby Mytholm Meadows and the CEO of Inspire Business Park in Bradford and Hebden Bridge Town Hall Board Member Peter Hirst. The responses were constructive.

Becoming a Growing Futures member or supporter

Membership of Growing Futures is free and open to anyone living in the Upper Calder Valley who supports its aim. This is to set up a community-owned, not-for-profit business that will buy the Mytholm Works site. The community-owned, not-for-profit business would then run the Growing Futures sustainable food growing scheme, combined with a farm-gate retail outlet for locally-produced food, sustainable food training and education, and ecotourism attraction and hotel.

To this end, Growing Futures aims to steer the process of:

  • preparing and submitting an application for outline planning permission for the Growing Futures business
  • setting up meanwhile growing projects on Browns Field
  • employing a cooperative business consultant to carry out a business plan/feasibility study that will demonstrate the viability (or not) of the proposed Growing Futures business
  • negotiating with the Mytholm Works site owners about buying the site
  • setting up a community-owned, not-for-profit business that will raise capital to buy the site and set up the Growing Futures business

Please email the Growing Futures Secretary if you would like to become a member or supporter of the Growing Futures unincorporated association. You can read the Growing Futures Constitution here.

See the Growing Futures blog for news and updates….

Updated 14 Nov 2015