Controversial Calderdale mill extension plan deferred by planning committee

Hebble End Mill, Hebden Bridge. Picture: Google Street View
Hebble End Mill, Hebden Bridge. Picture: Google Street View

A controversial mill extension plan has been deferred after councillors were unsure about the effect it would have on close neighbours.

Proposals by David Fletcher to extend the first floor at Hebble End Mill, Hebble End, Hebden Bridge, to provide holiday lets attracted 57 letters of objection and Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee heard negotiations had been ongoing for a year to reach the stage where planning officers recommended they be approved.

If the development is given the go-ahead, it will see the development of a £250,000 Northlight roof, a rare thing these days, said Mr Fletcher.

He told councillors he had worked closely with several council departments to develop the plans which would include the new roof, with the existing Northlight roof – once a feature of many mills – over a hundred years old and at the end of its life.

The extension was needed to develop the holiday lets, in which it was anticipated no more than 16 people would be resident in the eight apartments at any one time, to bring in income to pay for the new roof, said Mr Fletcher.

But objectors’ concerns include the effect of construction work, loss of privacy, impact on businesses which are housed in the mill, access issues, infrastructure, heritage, space and light, and wildlife concerns.

In particular councillors were concerned about the loss of natural light and privacy that may effect some of the mill’s nearest neighbours, at Hebble End.

And amid criticisms of inaccuracy in drawings accompanying the application and doubts by objectors about some supporting statements with the application, a majority of councillors voted to defer the plans pending clarification about some issues.

A bid by Coun David Kirton (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) to approve the application was defeated and Coun Faisal Shoukat’s proposal to defer the application was supported.

Committee chair Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden) reminded the meeting legal disputes about issues such as access rights were outside the planning process.

The mill is a site bounded to the north by the River Calder, to the east by Fountain Street, to the south by the Rochdale Canal and to the west by two homes at Hebble End.

Calderdale Council’s tourism team supports the applicatuon and considers it is a realistic figure that the business could generate in excess of £100,000 per annum, taking into account the quieter months.

On balance, say officers, potential issues regarding privacy and access can be overcome – strongly disputed by objectors – and argue it meets the council’s planning criteria.