Store saga to drag on as inspector adjourns inquiry

TODMORDEN’s supermarket saga will drag on for several more months after a planning inspector adjourned the public inquiry into a proposed new store on Halifax Road.

At the opening of the inquiry at Todmorden Town Hall on Tuesday morning, planning inspector Trevor Cookson said the appellant, Property Alliance Group Ltd and MCR, had carried out inadequate consultation, meaning he was unable to make a decision.

The appeal process has been complicated in recent months by Sainsbury’s, originally a joint applicant, pulling out and Asda, which already has planning permission for a new supermarket on Burnley Road, signalling their interest in the Halifax Road site.

Mr Cookson said that although the building remains the same, there have been significant changes to the plans, on which there has not been proper consultation.

“The consultation period undertaken by the appellant at the end of June is inadequate,” he said.

“The inadequacy of the consultation period means there’s a significant risk that the interests of third parties could be prejudiced.

“I therefore feel that the inquiry should be adjourned to a mutually convenient date to allow further consultation to take place.”

Patrick Clarkson QC, for the appellant, said: “It’s not an appeal brought by Asda. It’s an appeal to bring another supermarket to the town.

“There’s no change to the planning application. It’s a full application for a building which remains the same.

“There is a change in the supermarket operator from J Sainsbury to Asda. The change is insignificant.

“The appeal will not decide what is built on the Burnley Road site.

“What it would have done is examine what the options are for that site.”

Mr Clarkson added: “Burnley Road will be available as a sequential site because whatever happens, Asda will not develop it.”

Giles Cannock, for Calderdale Council, said there would be changes, including the ratio of convenience to comparison retail floor space.

“We feel that this application should be withdrawn and a fresh one submitted,” he said.

“There are other interested people in Todmorden concerned about the integrity of the process.

“Let all parties have the chance to inspect all the proposed amendments.”

David Storah, chairman of the Todmorden Town Centre Renaissance Project Board, said: “We feel that the consultation was not satisfactory.

“We don’t feel as a board that we have had sufficient time to consider any relevant changes.

“There are significant changes to the overall development.

“There should be a chance to have a more public viewing.”

Speaking after the inquiry, Todmorden town councillor Anne James said: “We are very disappointed that they have not come to a decision but pleased about the proper consultation that will take place.”