CALDER Valley MP Craig Whittaker believes a marina development at Halifax Road - or something similarly innovative - would be the best long-term option for the town.
He has urged local developers and entrepreneurs to rise to the challenge of turning a key site to the best benefit for the town in the long term, if Sainsbury’s supermarket bid fails.
Mr Whittaker has been following the debate and says the Sainsbury’s bid is controversial at best, taking into account feedback he has received from constituents.
“When looking at the bid for yet another supermarket I feel it only offers limited benefits to Todmorden. Admittedly, it would create a certain amount of jobs. However, it would not offer any future opportunities for growth and could actually be of detriment to the town by taking business from local shops and market stall owners, particularly as it is not seen as on a ‘walking route’ to the town and market,” he said.
“Equally the Sainsbury’s proposal offers no diversity to Todmorden. Personally, I even supported the local SORTIT campaign against it because of the strength of feeling portrayed to me.”
Despite that, Mr Whittaker says it would be churlish to cheer at any failed application because it would still leave a large gateway site disused and derelict, and he had made a “call to arms” to developers and entrepreneurs to work on schemes which would rejuvenate the town, of which the recent marina proposal supported by Todmorden Pride would be one.
“Within the Calder Valley we are extremely fortunate to possess one of the most picturesque canal waterways in the country, and this type of development would be an ideal way to achieve so much more for the town than a single supermarket would.
“Whilst I acknowledge this is only a concept at this stage, the inclusion of things like a hotel and restaurant within a complex could not only create jobs but also support other businesses within Todmorden through attracting visitors to the town.
“Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge - Todmorden also to a lesser extent - have invested in the development of their waterways and both towns subsequently benefit from a thriving tourist industry. It has been a catalyst for great restaurants and pubs which attract people from miles around,” he said.
Mr Whittaker said that for many years he had thought that the beauty of Todmorden has gone unnoticed by tourists and its value only appreciated by local people aware of its charming attributes.
“I am extremely fond of Todmorden. Its market, architecture and position make it an ideal spot for visitors so I am very keen to see concepts such as the marina help raise the profile of the town,” he added.