THE debate continues over the long-term future of Todmorden town centre following a planning inspector’s decision to refuse permission for a supermarket on the Halifax Road site.
Last week planning inspector Mel Middleton dismissed the appeal to build an Asda store on the site, saying it would have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Todmorden town centre, its role as a market town and planned public and private investment within the centre.
Since the decision was announced, there has been much discussion about what will happen next, particularly whether Asda will now revert back to the Burnley Road site for which it already has planning permission for a new store.
Asda spokesman Philip Bartram said the supermarket is considering its options.
“We are disappointed by the inspector’s decision to refuse planning permission,” he said.
“Our plans would have regenerated a disused and vacant site, as well as creating job opportunities for local people.
“We are currently reviewing our store development plans for Todmorden.”
Todmorden town councillor Mark Catterall believes Asda should develop the Burnley Road site.
“Asda really should return to look at the Burnley Road site which they have planning permission for rather than just walking out on the town altogether,” he said.
“That would provide jobs and an alternative place to shop in Todmorden.
“The town council and Calderdale Council should look at supporting alternative uses of the Halifax Road site.
“Maybe if we can’t find a developer who is going to start work in the immediate future, we should look at ways to make it less of an eyesore for visitors to Todmorden.”
Calder ward councillor Janet Battye met with Ian Gray, Calderdale Council’s director of economy and environment, earlier this week to discuss the future of the town centre.
“We talked about the need to review the plan for Todmorden town centre,” she said.
“That needs to link in with work that the town council is doing on the neighbourhood plan and the developments planned for Bramsche Square and Todmorden Town Hall.
“We are hoping to look again at the plans for the whole of the town centre.”
Coun Battye said she will be asking Calderdale Council to approach the owners of the Halifax Road site and ask them to tidy it up and possibly do some landscaping.
“I know that one of the reasons that local residents told me they wanted a supermarket on the Halifax Road site is because it looks awful,” she said.
During the planning process there was mixed opinion with the town, with some saying a new supermarket on the site would bring much needed jobs while others feared a detrimental effect on existing town centre businesses.
Darren Midgley, chairman of Todmorden Civic Society, said: “It’s hard to see how, in the current economic climate, the outcome of the Asda appeal can be viewed as a victory for Todmorden.
“The council has sent an investor packing, along with over a hundred jobs and effectively condemned the Hope Street site to the same fate as the Olympia, Abraham Ormerod Centre, Adamroyd Mill, Cinderhill Mill and Rose Street clinic.
“Various ideas were put forward for this site, yet only one proposal was ever on the table, so it will be interesting to see if the much-vaunted plan for a marina and hotel ever makes the transition from an artist’s impression to a realistic planning application.”