New owner buys key town centre site

Halifax Road, Todmorden site up for auction on July 8, 2013
Halifax Road, Todmorden site up for auction on July 8, 2013

The future of Todmorden town centre is in the spotlight again after a key site was bought by a new owner earlier this week.

The Halifax Road site, one of the major development plots in Todmorden, was sold prior to an auction in London on Monday.

The price has not yet been disclosed but the site is believed to have been puchased by a local businessman.

Now councillors are hoping to work with the new owner to ensure the site is used for the benefit of the wider community.

Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s portfolio holder for economy and environment, said: “It’s a crucial site for Todmorden, right on the gateway into the town from Halifax.

“We want to try to work as closely and effectively with the new owners as possible so whatever happens it’s for the benefit of the community.”

Coun Collins revealed that Calderdale Council would have preferred to buy the site with the aim of working with the local community to enhance the town and support the local economy.

The council’s attempt to delay the auction was unsuccessful and, due to procedural difficulties, it was unable to submit a bid for the site before the auction’s deadline.

Both Coun Collins and Calder ward councillor Janet Battye recognise there have been long-standing local concerns about the state of the site.

Coun Battye has urged Calderdale Council’s Cabinet to use its powers to address the issue.

She said the council has powers under section 215 of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act to issue an untidy site notice and get the owner to tidy it up.

“This is an important ‘gateway’ site that everyone sees when they come into the town centre from Hebden Bridge,” she said.

“It’s been in this state – overgrown, untidy, fencing falling down – for too long.

“The council has powers to do something about it.”

The three-acre site has been a major talking point over the last few years, with supermarket giants Sainsbury’s and Asda both unsuccessfully seeking to build new stores on the land.