THE Halifax Road gateway site will remain vacant for the foreseeable future after a planning inspector dismissed the appeal to build a new Asda supermarket on the land.
In his ruling, which was announced on Tuesday, planning inspector Mel Middleton refused permission for the proposed store as he felt it would have a significant detrimental effect on Todmorden town centre.
Mr Middleton said: “I conclude that the proposal would have a significant adverse impact on the vitality of Todmorden town centre, its role as a market town and committed and planned public and private investment within the centre.
“The benefits of the scheme do not in my view outweigh this harm.”
Although he agreed that Asda would create new jobs, it would result in loss of employment elsewhere in the town.
“The proposal would be likely to create more than 150 new jobs and I accept that the full time equivalent is very likely to be around 100,” he said.
“However the proposal, in diverting trade away from existing retail outlets in Todmorden, would result in job reductions elsewhere so that the overall benefit would not be as great as first appearances suggest.”
Mr Middleton concluded that shoppers would be unlikely to walk into the town centre to visit other outlets after going to Asda.
“The appeal proposal, with its likely wide range of fresh produce and much larger comparison offer than Morrisons, let alone Lidl, would effectively be a one stop shopping destination,” he said.
“Despite the easy walk to the town centre, it is still 330 metres to the market.
“I am not persuaded that large numbers of shoppers would combine a visit to such a store with a visit to the town centre.”
Asda already has planning permission for a store on the Abraham Ormerod Centre and former Olympia cinema site, on Burnley Road, but decided to switch its attention to the Halifax Road.
During the inquiry, there was much debate over which of the two sites would be best for a supermarket.
Mr Middleton said: “A store of sufficient scale to effectively compete with Morrisons could be built at Burnley Road.
“If the store operator was flexible about the scale, format and design of the development and the provision of car parking, there would be a reasonable prospect of the proposed development being accommodated on an edge of centre site.
“Burnley Road is a sequentially preferable site to the appeal site.”
The decision now casts fresh doubt over the long term future of both the Halifax Road and Burnley Road sites, which currently remain empty or derelict.
Coun Janet Battye, a Calder ward councillor and deputy leader of Calderdale Council, said: “I think it’s important that we start to think about what we want to see on these sites.
“It’s important we look to the future of the town. We don’t want two long term derelict sites in Todmorden.
“We must take whatever action we can to get more investment into the town centre.”