Hebden Bridge businesses and a Calder ward councillor are calling on a developer to only close a prominent town centre road if it is absolutely necessary otherwise business and tourism could be hit.
Old Gate has been closed during mid-week business hours due to renovation work which has begun on the site of the former Hebden Cord Company mill which is to be converted into two office/retail units and six residential apartments.
The road was closed in August and are expected to remain closed Monday-Friday, from 8am to 6pm, until November or December.
Councillor Janet Battye (Calder, Lib Dem), local businesses and residents are furious that the road will remain permanently closed during the week until the work is finished and are now calling on the developers to only close the road when necessary.
“The road closure is a real inconvenience to local businesses, residents and visitors as the closure takes out a dozen parking spaces which in Hebden, we all know are like gold dust.
“The road provides crucial access to the town centre, Town Hall and the market. Businesses will suffer with such a long closure of these roads,” she said.
Nearby West End’s Menagerie Pets and Gardens owner, Elaine Roberts, said she is furious that she was not consulted by Calderdale Council or the property developer to see how her livelihood would be affected due to the road closure.
“It’s like someone has just pulled the plug on trade, business has plummeted. This road is the main artery into the town and it’s just been closed off with no consideration. Such a long closure could force me to close. The first notice the council put up stated roads that don’t even exist and said the closure was due to carriageway maintanence - but that’s not the case. We’re wondering if this has been an illegal road closure.”
To survive the adverse affect to business, Elaine says she will continue to access the road with her vehicle so she is able to survive by making home deliveries to customers who are unable to easily get to her shop due to the closure.
Councillor Battye said she, along with many residents, is happy restoration is taking place as the state of the back wall of the mill has been a real concern and that she understands the path and roadway will be closed during this time, due to site restricted access, but asks the council and developers to only close the road when building work is taking place.
Calderdale Council’s head of planning and highways, Geoff Willerton, said: “Due to construction and demolition works currently taking place, Old Gate in Hebden Bridge is closed on weekdays from 8am.
“As the road is narrow, and large vehicles are attending the building site throughout the day, the closure is necessary to ensure the works can take place safely.
“The road is being re-opened around 4.30pm every day, which is earlier than anticipated.
“Council officers will continue to visit the site to check progress and see if improvements to the current arrangements can be made, and will work with the developer to encourage completion as quickly as possible.”