Just what is the hidden agenda behind Calderdale council’s handling of town centre developments?
It certainly does not appear that the council is trying to improve the town. The Broad Street development was originally supposed to be a shopping centre. Then we learned that the council was hoping to move the library and archives there, thankfully this was shown to be impractical, then Broad Street would contain Calderdale offices despite there being an excess of town centre buildings already owned by Calderdale. At some stage it would contain a bowling alley despite the town already having one and then a cinema. I am old enough to remember at least 5 cinemas in the town centre. All 5 buildings still exist and could no doubt return to their original function if it was economically desirable. The Broad Street Plaza is about to open and we all wish it to be successful and enhance the town centre but do we really need all those food outlets? A few shops would have been welcome. The motives behind the proposed uses for the Broad Street development apart from the original shopping development are questionable. Is it not an own goal on the part of the council, the Broad Street Plaza centre could have contained an out and out fully fledged major shopping centre with many major stores, although one must recognise that the future of town centre shopping in general is in doubt. It is a very big site and it could have contained many major stores plus all the required parking spaces which could have been underground. What a missed opportunity! The chance to create a shopping centre equivalent to or better than those in neighbouring towns has been wasted. Instead, we now have the proposal that a major retail development is essential to the success of the town and the only possible site for this is the current site of the central library and Northgate house. How can anyone believe this assertion? If retail shopping is essential, why is it not already in the Broad Street Development and why should it be in place of our wonderful library? The Northgate House and Library area is central and it does form a ‘town centre’ of sorts and the buildings are not falling apart. There are many other sites suitable for retail development. The council had majored on the threat that Northgate House and the Central Library are in so bad a state of maintenance that it would be cheaper to demolish them than to repair them. This is obviously untrue. Whatever is needed to be spent on bringing existing buildings up to scratch would be needed in any new facility in addition to building costs. It is a dishonest assertion and it lends ammunition to those who suspect a hidden agenda in wanting to sell off these sites. Why have we been fed this misinformation? Even if it was somehow cheaper to rebuild the library elsewhere, what guarantee is there that the retail developments would follow? So council, please start acting professionally and in the best interests of Calderdale. Listen to the people. Forget crazy schemes proposed by developers. Recognise that town centre shopping is approaching saturation point. Concentrate on leisure activities and develop galleries, museums, markets, craft workshops. Above all, please drop these hidden agendas.