Tourist hot spot badly congested

St Georges Sqaure, Hebden Bridge.
St Georges Sqaure, Hebden Bridge.
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HEBDEN Bridge is a commuter hub with the lowest number of jobs of any area in Calderdale.

Just over 2,000 people work there and in the surrounding district, which includes Heptonstall, Old Town, Blackshaw Head and Charlestown.

Most jobs are to be found in hotels, restaurants, shops and distribution.

It has the fewest empty shops of any town in Calderdale, reflecting its popularity as a tourist destination.

Since 2001, the population has gone up by just 372 to 8,500 individuals – nearly half are over the age of 45.

There is very little undeveloped land for industry or offices and land values are high due to the demand for housing.

Over the past 10 years, 409 homes have been built, an increase of about 11 per cent, and most were flats and apartments.

Hebden Bridge has the highest proportion of leisure floorspace of any Calderdale town.

“That reflects its focus more as a leisure and day-trip destination than a practical shopping destination for day-to-day needs,” says to the draft Local Development Framework.

“Vacancy rates are the lowest of all towns, indicating the healthy nature of the centre.”

Bus and rail services to neighbouring towns are good but traffic congestion is an increasing problem.

By 2025, traffic in the area is expected to increase 27 per cent, compared to 16 per cent nationally, and it could take seven minutes to drive through the town. Only two of the seven schools are full.

Unless the development framework brings major changes, Hebden Bridge will continue to receive less than 5 per cent of the district’s growth in housing, employment and leisure uses.

Sustainable Transport Group spokeswoman Lesley Mackay said one of the biggest problems was traffic congestion and air pollution,.

“There is room for more businesses and offices but the priority should be more social and affordable housing.”

l Has Hebden Bridge grown as much as it can? Email yoursay@halifaxcourier.co.uk