Netto have changed tune over ‘art deco’

Warland, Todmorden.

I WAS disappointed to read last week’s article about the proposed Netto superstore, as it implied that those of us who wish to see the Art Deco cinema façade retained were somehow “living in the past”.

I completely agree that the façade is an eyesore, but it’s hardly surprising when you consider the years of neglect and lack of maintenance and you only have to look at the old grey banner hanging over the front entrance to arrive at this conclusion.

Councillors Sutcliffe and Walters quoted in last week’s article however, appear to regard its current condition as a reason for demolition.

Perhaps they mistakenly thought that Netto were merely going to bolt a brand new supermarket on the back of a decaying old cinema.

If that’s the case then no wonder they are so keen for the bulldozers to arrive. In fact according to Netto’s previous application, “the façade of the former cinema in faience/terracotta is to be cleaned and carefully restored with appropriate signage to complement the Art Deco style of the frontage.” Note the words “cleaned”, and “carefully restored”.

Façade retention is a recognised method of construction used on historically significant buildings throughout the country and it doesn’t mean construction on the cheap. Far from it.

Last week’s article mentioned the statement from Netto’s “independent” heritage consultant Roger Wools, and his comment “the façade only makes a modest contribution to the conservation area.”

Interestingly, only a month earlier he had claimed, “the retention and restoration of the cinema façade is a strong positive benefit of the scheme”, however he retracted this statement after Netto met with “representatives of the community” who presumably told them that we are all humble folk in Tod, and if they’re going to build us a new supermarket then we’d prefer it to look like a mill.

The outcome was that the new application is for a store with a gross internal floorspace 50 per cent larger than the design that retained the cinema frontage.

No doubt a bigger store will help Netto compete with a future Sainsbury’s, who must now feel that it’s only a matter of time before some more self-appointed “representatives of the community” roll out the red carpet for them.

darren midgley