Controversial Calderdale milll extension plan rejected

The mill extension in Hebden Bridge has been refused
The mill extension in Hebden Bridge has been refused

Controversial plans to extend a Calderdale mill to provide holiday lets were rejected by councillors on a committee chairman’s casting vote.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee were deadlocked at three votes each over whether or not to approve David Fletcher’s plans for Hebble End Mill, Hebble End, Hebden Bridge, in line with planning officers’ recommendation that it be allowed.

But the proposals were ultimately turned down when chair Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden) used his casting vote to reject them.

Key were issues councillors had when they asked for the application to be adjourned when it was first heard early in July – for more detail to be provided due to concerns the changes would be too intrusive for immediate neighbours at two Hebble End addresses.

Despite Mr Fletcher and planning officers believing much had been done to address the concerns, by the narrowest of margins the committee voted to reject the plans on the grounds they were too overbearing on some neighbours’ homes.

In July they had heard Mr Fletcher say the plans would see the development of a new £250,000 Northlight roof for the mill, which sits between the River Calder and the Rochdale Canal, a rare thing these days.

He argued the extension was needed to develop the holiday lets, to bring in income to pay for the new roof.

Objectors’ concerns included 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.

Objector Glenda Ratcliffe told councillors development on the scale proposed with limited access would block the canal towpath for a long period and she feared potential damage to property and risk of a retaining wall collpasing with heavy plant vehicles on the site.

And revised drawings did not address the issues of the impact on two Hebble End neighbours particularly, she said.

Coun Dave Young (Lab, Calder), and Mayor of Hebden Royd Town Council, which also opposed the plans, Coun Carol Stow, also voiced that view.

Mr Fletcher disagreed and said a year had been spent on the plans which had been improved.

He outlined refinements to mitigate changes and said: “I really believe we have addressed every point that has been raised.”

He went on: “We are trying as best we can to improve the situation of the houses and at the same time make use of a building in the conservation area.”