CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after councillors unanimously refused to grant planning permission for a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Todmorden.
Objectors cheered and applauded as members of Calderdale Council’s planning committee rejected the application for a store on the Halifax Road gateway site due to concerns about the impact another supermarket would have on existing town centre shops and businesses in Todmorden.
Before the meeting began, objectors gathered outside Halifax Town Hall waving banners which said “Say no to Sainsbury’s”.
Members of the committee noted this level of feeling against the supermarket when making their decision.
Coun Richard Marshall said: “We have a duty to look after and care for our towns and villages. If we don’t, nobody else will.
“Todmorden Town Council are adamant they do not want it, the people of Todmorden don’t want it and I certainly cannot support this application.”
Coun Stephen Baines said: “In rejecting the application we are listening to the people of Todmorden.
“I think the overwhelming majority of the people of Todmorden don’t support this fourth supermarket in their town.”
Coun Keith Hutson said: “I feel I’m elected to represent the views of local people.
“A total of 150 jobs may be created, which is a big carrot, but I don’t know how many jobs will be lost as a result of the development.
“There’s more to development than supermarkets.
“I know Todmorden is trying to promote itself as a tourist attraction and I don’t see how a supermarket will help to promote it as that.”
He urged Todmordians to “think creatively and galvanise interest” for an alternative use of the site.
“Because I have faith that the people of Todmorden can do this, I support my colleagues against the supermarket.”
The committee went against the advice of independent planning consultants Alyn Nicholls, who said there were little or no planning grounds for refusing the application.
After the meeting Todmorden ward councillor Ian Cooper, who spoke on behalf of the objectors, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a great outcome for Todmorden.
“I’m sure there will be dissenters but I hope that in time they will realise the wisdom of the decision.”
He thanked Todmorden town councillor John Lockhart, Todmorden ward councillor Jayne Booth and Calderdale councillor Geraldine Carter, who all spoke at the meeting against the application, for their “invaluable contribution”.
Speaking after the meeting, Coun Lockhart said: “It should not be about blocking Sainsbury’s or opposing development but rather about creating something better for Todmorden’s future.
“We have now been set that challenge and must get to work on it.”
Coun Janet Battye, leader of Calderdale Council, said she was pleased with the decision.
But she said it was important to find an alternative use for site so it does not remain derelict for years.