NOW that Sainsbury’s has had planning permission refused, a period of uncertainty hangs over the future of the Hope Street site, yet anyone reading the Tod News over the past couple of months will be forgiven for thinking that this was a two-horse race between Sainsbury’s and the alternative plans for a marina.
It is interesting to note however, that a marina on this site was first proposed by Stannard Homes in 2009 and was to have been the centrepiece of their mixed-use development, but during their discussions, British Waterways raised a number of serious issues and rejected the plan.
Their main concerns were not trivial but inherent with the site itself and relate to issues like the two metre height difference between the canal level and Halifax Road, the problems of siting a marina on a bend and the proposed site’s close proximity to the residential moorings at Baltimore.
These issues remain within the current plan, as does the stance taken by British Waterways, so trying to shoehorn a 52-berth marina into the Hope Street site after it has already been rejected does not seem to be a sensible economic decision, especially when it is widely appreciated within the narrowboat community that there is a glut of empty berths in the North of England, and you only have to look at the Hebden Bridge marina, which holds a mere fraction of the boats proposed for the Hope Street site (and is seldom full) to see that such a large proposal for Todmorden seems overly-ambitious.
I’m afraid I do not share correspondent P. Sutcliffe’s view that the Hope Street site should “remain in its present state until we are through the recession”, and I doubt I’m alone, yet reading the letters in the Tod News it is clear that having an “alternative plan” on the table has helped mobilise opposition to Sainsbury’s, so as the proponents of the marina are celebrating waving goodbye to a major investor and 150 full and part time jobs, I have a few questions to ask them:
Who is the mystery developer, apparently willing to provide financial backing for this scheme in the current economic situation, despite the previous attempt?
When can we expect to see a planning application submitted to the council?
Why have you as yet failed to contact British Waterways, either by way of an expression of interest or pre-application discussions?
One could be forgiven for thinking that the marina plan was simply a façade for an anti-supermarket campaign, because if it fails to materialise and we are left with a derelict site for many more years there will be a heck of a lot more questions that require answers.