Applause from Save Our Shops as planners say no to Sainsbury’s

Mayor of Hebden Royd Coun Jonathan Timbers, centre, lent his voice to the SOS campaigners at the Halifax Town Hall meeting
Mayor of Hebden Royd Coun Jonathan Timbers, centre, lent his voice to the SOS campaigners at the Halifax Town Hall meeting

Crowds applauded what they termed a victory for Hebden Bridge after Calderdale Council planning committee voted to reject a supermarket proposal objectors had previously dubbed “disastrous”.

The application had proposed that a £1.5 million Sainsbury’s Local be built on the former Hebden Bridge Fire Station site on Valley Road but after worries for the free flow of traffic in the busy, narrow streets the plan was rejected by six of the seven councillors present at Tuesday’s planning meeting, held at Halifax Town Hall.

Councillor Dan Sutherland, who chaired the meeting, said: “The application fails to provide adequate facilities and services for delivery vehicles, leading to an increased likelihood of such vehicles obstructing the free and safe flow of traffic on Valley Road, which would be detrimental to highway safety.”

The proposal contained two main elements including a two story, mixed-use block containing a Sainsbury’s Local on the ground floor and part of the first floor, while the second part would have consisted of a three storey block of five townhouses on Hangingroyd Lane.

Members of the Save Our Shops - Say No to Sainbury’s campaign have been rallying support against the proposal since last year and more than 40 members gathered in the chamber of Halifax Town Hall to make their voice heard and discover the proposal’s fate. They greeted councillors with placards and banners putting their case.

Dave Brooks, a core group member of the Save Our Shops community group, was “delighted” after the meeting.

“Myself and the SOS team are very happy. The council has seen sense and the Sainsbury’s application has been refused. This, however, I doubt this is the end. It is very likely Sainsbury’s will appeal the decision and we will try our best to put them off from that.

“The people from Hebden Bridge do not want Sainsbury’s.”

Coun Jonathan Timbers, Mayor of Hebden Royd Town Council, who also attended the meeting, said: “I am delighted by the wise decision by Calderdale Council which has been taken in the interest of the town and its future viability.”

Many concerns were heard at the planning meeting including the effect on local shops, the increased traffic flow - a 11.2m long lorry delivering up to seven times a day - and the need for parking in the area.

Calder ward Councillor Dave Young spoke during the meeting and described Hebden Bridge as “a very eccentric, independent little town.”

“Hebden Bridge is Calderdale’s jewel in the crown,” he added.

The Hebden Bridge Partnership will now look at the next step and discuss with Hebden Royd Town Council an approach to Eshton Gregory - the site owners - urging them not to appeal the decision and to sit down with the community and discuss a “more imaginative idea.”

A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s, said: ““We are disappointed that Calderdale Council has rejected the plans for a new mixed retail and residential scheme in the centre of Hebden Bridge within which Sainsbury’s would have taken a lease of the retail element.

“This is despite the clear recommendations of the planning and highways officers to approve. This store would have ensured that people living in Hebden Bridge had more shopping choice and would have created up to 25 jobs for local people.

“Had permission being granted, the development would have delivered a significant boost for the local economy and provided a handy place for local people to top-up their main food shop. We will now consider next steps with the developer.”

Another Calder ward councillor, Janet Battye, said following the decision: “I hope that the site owner will now work with the council and local people to make good use of this important town centre site.”