NEW plans for a Netto supermarket in Todmorden would mean waving goodbye to the past and saying hello to the future.
Town councillors have recommended approval of the application which includes demolition of the art deco frontage of the former Olympia cinema and the installation of a state-of-the-art traffic system which would be one of only two such junctions in the country.
The traffic light controlled junction would replace the current roundabout on Burnley Road and allow pedestrians to safely enter and exit the supermarket site. It will be similar to the junction on Oxford Street in London.
Members of Todmorden town council’s development committee voted in favour of the new application, with many feeling that the frontage is unattractive and the proposed supermarket would look better by not incorporating it.
Netto submitted plans last summer for a new foodstore with landscaping, car parking and servicing on the site of the former cinema and Abraham Ormerod Centre, on Burnley Road.
The application, which proposed keeping the cinema frontage, was recommended for approval by the town council, subject to the building enhancing the appearance of the conservation area by having a blue slate pitched roof and providing better screening of the car park by using shrubbery.
While the plans were under consideration, the applicant was approached by representatives of the community who expressed views that rather than retaining the cinema frontage, the proposal should include demolition of the frontage and a development reflective of other traditional Todmorden buildings.
This led to a new application being submitted which, if successful, would allow Netto to design a new store without the constraints of the cinema frontage.
Speaking at last week’s meeting, Coun Steven Sutcliffe said: “I have been approached by a few people in the town in favour of losing the frontage.
“I’m personally in favour of it because I think it’s ugly.”
Coun Phil Walters said: “I do personally think it’s an eyesore.
“It would be much better to get rid of it and have a store which looks new because it will not look very new with the frontage on it.”
A statement by an independent heritage consultant supported the case for demolition, saying the frontage “makes only a modest positive contribution” to the character and appearance of the conservation area.
The consultant felt that the new proposal would satisfy the planning policy tests of preserving the character and appearance of the conservation area.
Coun John Rodgers would prefer to see the frontage incorporated into the new supermarket.
“I personally quite like art deco but also I think it’s a traditional part of Todmorden,” he said.
“Not everything in Todmorden has to be Victorian. There are other periods in this town.
“Although it’s not listed, it’s an important building in the history of the town.”
Planning officers have said there is merit in both keeping and demolishing the cinema frontage.
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