Ambitious plans to convert a historic listed mill into a homes, cafe and business scheme will go-ahead – though doubts still remain about the suitability of an access road.
Objectors to Clay Construction (Huddersfield) Ltd’s proposals to convert Old Town Mill at Old Town, above Hebden Bridge, are concerned the effect more traffic will have on the cobbled and very narrow Old Town Mill Lane on which the mill stands.
Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee agreed to support officers’ recommendation the plans be approved, but wanted issues relating to access monitoring, including a traffic management scheme during construction.
Councillors also agreed to grant listed building consent.
The Grade II listed mill buildings – they date to the mid 19th century – will now be converted into one one-bedroom apartment or home, seven two-bedroom apartments or homes and 17 three-bedroom homes, as well as some small business units and a cafe.
Sheds will be demolished to build some of the new homes and car parking, garden areas and landscaping will all be undertaken.
There will be 52 residents’ parking spaces and 12 for the businesses and cafe, councillors heard.
Historic England praised the project and said it welcomed the repair and conversion of the mill.
Representing objectors, Sid Jones said residents at Old Town Hall Cottages were asking the council to require bollards be put in place to stop traffic turning onto Old Town Mill lane in an easterly direction.
There was no objection to the scheme as such but there were serious concerns about one access route by which traffic would approach the development.
“The consensus of opinion is that there has been a traffic issue for many years,” he said.
“It is an opportunity to get this road sorted out once and for all to stop large vehicles coming down.
“We have had large vehicles, huge things, trying to squeeze through while following their satnavs.
“Everyone’s wanting to beautify and promote the area but we do need to have safety.
“What we suggest is bollards between Old Town Hall Cottages and Old Town Mill to stop large vehicles coming right down.”
Mr Jones said it narrowed to around nine feet which was totally unsuitable for traffic using the lane when the mill was developed.
Coun Colin Peel (Con, Brighouse) asked Mr Jones how large vehicles including emergency vehicles coped, as bollards were a permanent solution and could delay an ambulance for example.
Mr Jones said vehicles such as waste services vehicles had to go round and access the site via Billy Lane and Parrock Lane because they could not get through the gap and depending on width an ambulance could not get through without damaging Cottages’ residents homes.
Officers’ report to councillors said these access concerns were shared by Wadsworth Parish Council, which was broadly supportive of the scheme, and Calderdale ward Coun Dave Young (Lab, Calder).
Coun Young said objectors were not opposed to the mill project itself but the lack of traffic management.
The committee was being asked to adopt the bollards solution so traffic would approach the mill from a westerly direction and the main highway rather than easterly where it would meet that narrowest point.
Coun Peel said the matter could be addressed as a ward matter when the project was finished, when it would be possible to deal with an actual problem rather than speculating on a problem.
And an agent for Clay Construction told the committee they were aware of concerns but said the council had rejected a solution it had included in one of its earliest designs to address it.
“Our offer was in our very first scheme we brought together – we had the main access directed to take traffic round in a westerly direction.
“There are 101 reasons why traffic shouldn’t go down there.
“Unfortunately our original access design wasn’t accepted by the council and we had to turn 90 degrees which does leave it one way or the other,” she said, referring to traffic having choice of routes to the mill.
The majority of vehicle movements would go to the west and through construction could manage which way deliveries came in – that was in the company’s control, she said.
Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) asked if the safety of the chimney stack at the mill had been assured, and the agent said it had been assessed as part of the overall scheme.
Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf), recommending the plans be approved, asked that an extra condition for a traffic management plan while work as going on be included and officers consider ways of restricting vehicles using the stretch of road which was causing concern.
Highways officers had told councillors that in their opinion the traffic impact would not be materially higher than vehicles already using the route – not enough to warrant the issue being addressed.