Sharing our hopes - townspeople contribute to SOS meeting on Hebden’s future

One of the discussion groups at Hebden Bridge SOS's "No To Sainsburys, Yes To Hebden" meeting. Picture by Craig Shaw/blu planet photography
One of the discussion groups at Hebden Bridge SOS's "No To Sainsburys, Yes To Hebden" meeting. Picture by Craig Shaw/blu planet photography
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Hundreds of people gathered to ‘Say No to Sainbury’s and Say Yes to Hebden Bridge’ at an event to re-imagine the future vision for the town.

Affordable housing, a heritage centre and car parking were popular ideas that were mentioned by members of the Save Our Shops (SOS) group, councillors and the Hebden Bridge Partnership at the open meeting held to oppose the proposed £1.5 million supermarket development at the old fire station site.

The Neighbourhood Plan will not be in place for two years so right now we are working on getting the views from the community. The ideas that we had at the event were absolutely fantastic which included some proposals to make Heptonstall more accessible and some ideas about how to make the area less prone to flooding from Blackshaw Head

Mayor of Hebden Royd, Coun Jonathan Timbers

Nearly 200 pledges were made at the event, which was held at the Waterfront Hall, to ‘Say No to Sainbury’s’ and the date for developer Eshton Gregory to appeal the decision made by Calderdale Council is looming. Hilary Chadwick, a core member of the SOS community group, said: “It was invaluable for members of the public to share their hopes, dreams and visions for the town and the ideas were great.”

She shared some concerns about the appeal process and what it would mean for Hebden Bridge to have another small supermarket in the town.

“I have concerns that a small supermarket would make it difficult for local competitors like the butchers and green grocers to continue to sustain their business.”

Mayor of Hebden Royd Coun Jonathan Timbers spoke on behalf of the town council about the Neighbourhood Plan, which allows the community to have some say on planning issues.

“The Hebden Royd Town Council advised Calderdale Council to reject the Sainsbury’s proposal on robust planning grounds as the road it would have been built on is already very congested.

“The Neighbourhood Plan will not be in place for two years so right now we are working on getting the views from the community. The ideas that we had at the event were absolutely fantastic which included some proposals to make Heptonstall more accessible and some ideas about how to make the area less prone to flooding from Blackshaw Head.”

Bob Deacon, chair of the Hebden Bridge Partnership, highlighted the work this organisation has already done to improve to the town. He introduced their Hebden Bridge ‘20/20’ document outlining their future proposals.

He said he had a meeting with Eshton Gregory, the developer of the Old Fire Station site and, if Sainsbury’s drop their development plans, he has agreed to hear ideas from the community.

Sainsbury’s have until March 17 to appeal the decision made by Calderdale Council to reject the plan.

Councillor Dan Sutherland, who chaired the meeting in September, 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.”

A representative for the developer said earlier this week that the decision as to whether or not to appeal is still to be made.

Meanwhile, SOS Hebden Bridge will be posting the full vison picture on their website (www.soshebdenbridge.org.uk) and Facebook page. Everyone is invited to add constructive comments.