During 2013 the Hebden Bridge Partnership developed an action plan, Vision 2020 (www.hbpartnership.org.uk) which set out a number of priorities for improvement in the town in the coming years.
Number 5 of the priorities was to work with Calderdale Council and the owners of the Fire Station site to consider how best the whole of the Hebden Bridge Valley Road square could be developed to maximise the benefits to the community.
A number of ideas have been floated including a plan for the whole area including: underground parking, affordable housing, studios, sports centre, open space etc.
Our concern about the planning application to open a Sainsbury’s on the old Fire Station site is that, if it is approved, it will put an end to the possibility of an alternative and more socially useful and creative use of the area. The opportunity cost is very considerable for this central site as it extends to potentially encompass the council car park to the south and the telephone exchange to the north.
We sent these observations to Calderdale Council because we believe the planning officers and committee should take them seriously in the context of the fact that Hebden Royd Town Council is developing its Neighbourhood Plan.
The uses to which this site could be put will be part of that. At the same time Hebden Bridge needs to find space for a number of houses in the coming period and this needs to be factored in to planning for the Valley Road area.
Our concern is with the obstacle that approval of this unimaginative application would put in the way of an imaginative longer term town centre development. We would wish to discuss with the developers and Calderdale a better way forward in the interest of everybody. Bob Deacon
Chair, Hebden Bridge Partnership
Secretary, Hebden Bridge Partnership