Claims of £1m lost trade from town centre and new interest in Burnley Road site at store inquiry

Artist's impression of how the Asda store would look on Halifax Road, Todmorden
Artist's impression of how the Asda store would look on Halifax Road, Todmorden

A NEW supermarket on the Halifax Road gateway site would draw close to £1 million of trade from Todmorden town centre, according to an expert.

The claim was made at the opening of the public inquiry at Todmorden Town Hall on Tuesday as Calderdale Council put its case against the proposed Asda store.

But the applicant, Property Alliance Group (PAG) revealed that a developer has come forward for the Burnley Road site, meaning that if planning permission is granted for the supermarket on Halifax Road, this would result in two currently derelict sites in Todmorden being developed.

In his opening statement, Patrick Clarkson, for PAG, said property developer McCarthy and Stone have made an offer for the Abraham Ormerod Centre part of the Burnley Road site, with the aim of providing a number of retirement homes.

“Subject to terms, McCarthy and Stone will have the opportunity to energise that part of the site,” Mr Clarkson said.

“Asda considers that the Burnley Road site can’t work for their smaller retail model

“There are a range of options for retail or sheltered housing, which Asda will energise.

“They don’t want to be burdened with an under-performing supermarket. They will do all they can to promote other uses of the site.

“That will lead to the redevelopment of two brownfield sites close to the centre of Todmorden.”

During evidence, it emerged that there are two options for a retirement housing scheme: 36 units plus a retail warehouse development, or 80 retirement units arranged over two buildings.

Mr Clarkson said when Sainsbury’s applied for a supermarket on Halifax Road, officers recommended approval of the plans.

“The site that could compete with Morrison’s is the Halifax Road site,” he said. “Burnley Road is too small for that purpose.

“Asda sees the Halifax Road site as an opportunity to enhance the provision in Todmorden by providing a store that’s attractive to shoppers and provides competition for the out of centre Morrison’s.

“The site should be treated as out of centre but it’s within walking distance of the centre and the route is direct and flat.

“Asda will bring up to 160 jobs and will target recruitment of local workers.”

Giles Cannock, for Calderdale Council, said a new store on Halifax Road would have implications for the existing Lidl supermarket, the future of the Burnley Road site and the redevelopment of Bramsche Square.

“If permisison is granted, Asda will move from adjacent to the bus station, across from the market to an out of centre location which is less accessible and will create fewer linked trips,” he said.

“It’s the antithesis of national policy.

“There have been two planning permissions granted for the Burnley Road site, so the assertion by Asda that a development there is not viable is mystifying.

“The simple fact is that Asda have acquired what they believe to be a better site for a bigger store and have decided to give it a go.

“That approach is contrary to national policy.”

Mr Cannock said there is evidence that a new supermarket on Halifax Road would have a serious impact on trade at the nearby Lidl store, potentially forcing it to close.

“This would lead to another vacant, edge of centre site,” he said.

Martin Tonks, an expert witness for the council, estimated that an Asda store on Halifax Road would draw £0.95m of trade from existing town centre businesses.

“That’s £500,000 of trade coming out of the market which, spread across about 20 stalls, is a phenomenal amount of money,” he said.

“I think that’s unsustainable and will have a significant adverse impact on existing town centre trade.”

Asda estimates the figure at £0.29m.

Mr Tonks said evidence shows the new Asda store could be accommodated on the Burnley Road site but with a reduced amount of car parking.

He said this was not a major issue as there are other car parks in the vicinity and many people walk into town to do their shopping.

“Developing the Burnley Road site would enhance the number of linked trips to the town centre and would help the vitality of the town centre,” he said.

“The site that can draw back leakage to the town centre would be the best future for the town.”

l Proceeding