Twist in store saga as Sainsbury’s pull out

Artist's impression of the revised plans for the proposed Sainsbury's store off Halifax Road, Todmorden
Artist's impression of the revised plans for the proposed Sainsbury's store off Halifax Road, Todmorden

UNCERTAINTY surrounds the future of the Halifax Road gateway site following an announcement that Sainsbury’s has pulled out of the planning appeal.

Sainsbury’s was scheduled to appeal against Calderdale Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a new supermarket on the site at a public inquiry in the summer. But last week it withdrew from the process.

Sue Smales, Sainsbury’s regional planning manager, said: “We appreciate that our many supporters will be disappointed that Sainsbury’s has withdrawn from the appeal and we would like to thank them for all their help.

“Sainsbury’s has an active new store and store extension development programme in the north but sadly this project no longer meets the company’s requirements.”

Despite Sainsbury’s pulling out, the appeal will still go ahead. Property Alliance Group, a joint applicant, is seeking planning permission for the site.

Mrs Smales said: “The decision to withdraw is not one that has been taken lightly but Property Alliance Group will continue to run the appeal on its own.”

The news has received a mixed reaction, with some people pleased that the supermarket has pulled out of the process but concerned about how the site may be developed after the appeal.

Todmorden town councillor Ian Cooper, who has spoken on behalf of the objectors throughout the process, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Sainsbury’s have taken the view that it would be impractical to pursue an appeal.

“Where the appeal goes from here may well be in the hands of others. I recognise that there may well be others who wish to take up an option.

“As far as I’m concerned, the principles involved as just the same. It’s an unsuitable site in an unsuitable location and still contravenes policy references that were included at the time of the last refusal.

“Absolutely nothing has changed.

“I’m still firmly of the opinion that Todmorden is ideally placed to take advantage of a tourism agenda, one that could provide employment and an attraction that would complement existing retail.”

Fellow town councillor Margareta Holmstedt said: “It’s great that Sainsbury’s has withdrawn because it shows that in this economic climate it’s not viable to have four supermarkets in Todmorden.

“The town council was not against Sainsbury’s - it was against any supermarket on that site.

“We need other development on that site. A hotel is something that Todmorden needs desperately.”