Inspector sets a start date for store inquiry

What does the future hold for the Halifax Road gateway site?
What does the future hold for the Halifax Road gateway site?

THE Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the public inquiry into the Halifax Road gateway site will go ahead next month, despite the withdrawal of Sainsbury’s.

Joint applicant Property Alliance Group Ltd is continuing with the appeal as it seeks planning permission to build a foodstore with car parking, associated servicing and landscaping on the site.

The inquiry will be held at Todmorden Town Hall, commmencing on July 24 at 10am. It is expected to last four days.

Following news that Sainsbury’s has pulled out and no signs of Asda starting construction work on its store on Burnley Road, there has been much speculation around town about whether Asda is contemplating switching to the Halifax Road site.

A spokesman for Asda said it had nothing to say on the matter.

He also declined to give a start date for construction work on its new Todmorden store.

Todmorden town councillor Ian Cooper, who intends to speak on behalf of the objectors at the inquiry into a proposed supermarket on Halifax Road, said: “In planning terms, the application continues to be contrary to a number of policies.

“I think there are sufficient planning grounds to vigorously oppose this appeal.

“I think the centre of our town would be decimated because people are not going to walk back from Halifax Road to the market.

“Stepping out of the emotional and looking at the logical, it’s not going to bring extra jobs because existing ones will be at risk.

“We cannot afford to leave that site derelict for a long time but that should not be used as emotional blackmail.

“With it being designated as a retail site, the land value is greatly inflated.

“If we can remove that possibility from the equation, lots of other options will present themselves for more meaningful opportunities for our town.”

James Gregory, chairman of Todmorden Pride, said the group still believes the best solution for the town is Asda to be built on the site of the Abraham Ormerod Centre and former Olympia cinema.

“A change of approach from Asda would be very disappointing to us,” he said.

“It would leave a black rotting tooth in the town centre - the Abraham Ormerod site.

“Todmorden Pride takes the view that an Asda on that site would enhance the town centre and increase footfall to the market.

“Nobody can argue that there’s not room for another supermarket in Todmorden.

“The derelict buildings are a huge frustration.

“We are trying to look at the long term future of the town.”

Anne James, who chairs the town council’s development committee, said: “It doesn’t matter which supermarket it would be. We have got too many already.”