Stop rot and turn rules to our ends

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editorial image

Thank you Nina for an excellent letter (HBT, December 12) about how councillors from outside Hebden Bridge are deciding what should happen in Hebden Bridge.

I want to add another point about the increasing abuse by developers of the planning process. Readers may recall that the planning application for the demolition and rebuild of the Old Gate fustian premises in Hebden Bridge was due to expire on February 20, 2011. However according to the planning officer work to “commence the building operation” involving “the removal of a section of wall” was undertaken on site on February16, 2011! In other words developers abused the decision that permission would expire on February 20 by knocking a hole in the wall four days before the deadline and then leaving it untouched for over a further two years.

This summer they finally knocked the building down and said they were about to build the new shops and apartments. The Old Gate Road Closure Notice even said it would be closed from September 2013 till March 2014 to allow the building. What has happened? Nothing. The developers have left an ugly scar in the centre of town surrounded by a fence which is falling down. I wonder how long the planning permission now extends for given they made a start?

Now let’s fast forward to the “proposal” to build a Sainsbury outlet on the Old Fire Station site. The planning permission that Eshton Gregory Ltd obtained to build retail premises and houses on that site is due to expire on December 24, 2013. Good. On December 25, they will have no right to develop according to that expired permission.

Alas the company “will soon be seeking planning permission for the revised scheme”. What we are seeing is developers hanging on to land and making no use of it and then abusing the planning permissions which are only supposed to be time limited. Many suspect the same applies to the permission granted to build a supermarket at the Mytholm Works site. The land value has increased but it will be years if ever before anything is built.

We need to develop a strategy to stop this. Hebden Bridge Partnership (www.hbpartnership.org.uk) in its document, Vision 2020, agreed after public consultation earlier this year that “it might be possible to design an integrated and holistic project which would use all of the land between Hangingroyd Lane and Valley Road in a much more imaginative way”.

Ideally what is needed is that Hebden Royd Council oppose the new application and Calderdale confirm this creating a space for the Partnership, Town Council and other groups to develop an alternative plan. The developers would then need to be worked with to change their ideas about how their site might be developed. Maximum use should be made of the new Localism Act to explore options to try to purchase the land for the community through a community share issue. Let’s stop the rot of developers abusing the planning process and turn it to our own ends.

Bob Deacon,

Hebden Bridge.




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