Developing Hebden Bridge
Garden Street questions remain unanswered
Group to form Civic Trust
Thursday, 14 June 2007
Once again, the upstairs meeting room at the White Lion was packed, with standing room only and at times people crowded into the hallway outside. This latest "development watchdog" meeting was chaired by Angie Cairns.
Proposed Garden Street Development
Although business did cover other topics (see below), one of the main subjects on the minds of those present was the proposed Garden Street redevelopment, especially as David Fletcher, the developer, was at the meeting.
David Fletcher welcomed the formation of the group but stressed that it had to "make sure of accuracy" in its dealings. He referred to misinformation about the Garden Street project. The Chair responded that here was the problem – people were trying to find out information and their search was not always easy.
Michael Jennings, Anthony Rae and others present made the point that if the reason for the redevelopment was to provide extra parking, there were other options (eg expansion of parking at the station) which would be far cheaper, involve less disruption and preserve the town’s character. Calderdale councillor Janet Battye welcomed the outline proposals from Metro for more parking at the station.
David Fletcher responded, “I’ll tell you exactly where it’s at. Nobody knows what the scheme is. We need some truth and honesty. The development is not going to be 8 storeys high. We are looking at three possible options which is why we’ve held meetings over the past 2-3 weeks – to consult with local people, and find out what they want. If we subsequently find the new residents need more parking, we will provide that. It could be up to 200 places or more, depending upon what is needed.”
Aware that David Fletcher had been allowed to talk for too long at the previous meeting, the Chair was careful to restrict the amount of time he was able to address the floor. But she was nevertheless accused of bias by David Fletcher when she asked him to stop. At least two people subsequently told the meeting that while they thought many of David Fletcher's ideas were “crackpot” had in the past performed great service in helping to revitalise the town.
Crucial questions remained unasked and unanswered. Has Hebden Royd Development Company bought a lease form the owners, Calderdale Council? If so, for how much? And when was this put out to tender? Who is providing the capital for the development? Not asked, and not answered.
Calder Holmes Park
Many felt that they had been kept in the dark about the current redevelopment. Although some information had been put on notice boards and belatedly sent to the Hebden Bridge Web, people reported having to go into the council office and have the clerk pull the plans out of a drawer.
There was concern about the noise and pollution given off from the ice cream van outside the children’s playground running its generator for 8 hours each day.
A petition sent to the HB Times had not been reported. It was confirmed that benches will be returned to the top of the wavy steps, and that the personal plaques will be treated and restored. Anthony Rae suggested that those with concerns about the benches could contact Richard Binks directly at Calderdale.
Parking round the square
Yellow lines will be added after the area has been resurfaced in a couple of weeks.
The loss of educational venues
Barbara Green lamented the disappearance of Pitt Street. She reminded people that hundreds of people, especially the older members of our community, had taken advantage of classes provided by the Workers Education Association and the local authority. “There are no facilities now for older people”.
David Fletcher informed the meeting that he was involved (along with a consortium of local groups) in taking over Youth House, including an eco-museum for the ground floor. He hoped that this may be a venue for local groups, but not for another year or so.
Julian Buglar spoke to the meeting suggesting that if they became part of the now largely defunct local civic trust, they already had charity status, a constitution and limited liability. Following some discussion the meeting voted to take this road.
Next meeting: Wednesday, 25th July
Previously on the Hebweb