Rival supermarkets bid to build position of strength in district

CALDERDALE is set to go supermarket-crazy with two huge stores in the pipeline for Todmorden alone while Asda and Morrisons are looking at creating 450 jobs at sites in Elland.

But the proposals have wildly varying degrees of support and objections.

In Todmorden the plans by Sainsbury's to build on Halifax Road have been objected to by a stunning quarter of the town's population yet in Elland a special group has been set up to support the Morrisons plans.

First to signal its intentions was Netto which plans to develop the site of Abraham Ormerod Hospital and former cinema on Burnley Road, Todmorden.

Then in October the Yorkshire Post revealed that a quarter of Todmorden's population – 3,450 people – had signed a petition against Sainsbury's Halifax Road proposals fearing it would "destroy" the town.

So alarmed was leading Calderdale councillor Ian Cooper that he resigned his position on the planning committee so he could speak his mind.

And this weekend it emerged that Asda, which has been trying to build in Elland for a decade, had revived its plans to build a supermarket in Elland, creating up to 200 new jobs.

Three years ago, the company had hoped to use a site between Dewsbury Road and Huddersfield Road, next to the Elland-Riorges link. But the scheme fell through following concerns about the potential impact on town centre shoppers.

Meanwhile Morrisons has been pressing ahead with a scheme of its own for a store on the Nu-Swift site at Wistons Lane, creating 250 jobs.

Sandra Smith, a member of the Elland Supermarket Support Group, set up to back the Morrisons scheme said she was not sure there was room for two stores in the town.

Full details of Asda's new proposal will be revealed at an exhibition in the town's Cartwheel Youth Club on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday.

Asda spokesman Philip Bartram said: ''Despite not having been able to progress our previous plans as we would have liked, we remain of the view that a new store would deliver major benefits to the local area. We firmly believe in this scheme but are also very keen the views of the community before submitting an application.''

The store would have 211 parking spaces, a 20,000 sq ft sales area and, according to the company, it should increase the overall number of shoppers in the town with the potential to bring notable spin-off benefits for existing traders.

Joe Braithwaite, chairman of the Elland Partnership, said he was not surprised at Asda reviving its plans. He said: ''At our last meeting there was a general feeling of welcome for the Morrisons store but I don't know whether there is room in Elland for an Asda store as well.''

Council leader Janet Battye, (Lib Dem, Calder), said she was proud that the district was attracting the attention of such heavyweight investors. She said: ''I think it's fascinating that these large chains of shops are looking at Calderdale – it must say something about the place though I am not sure what it is.

''Based on my experience in Todmorden I am not sure how these small towns can accommodate such large stores. What is most important is the effect on existing town centres. It's really important that planners are mindful of what the local communities want and what they need.

''The danger of having too many supermarkets is that they have the potential to kill of town centre community life. What I hear is that people in Elland would like a bit more supermarket provision though I don't know they would really want two large supermarkets because of the potential damage it might do to Elland town centre.''

Calderdale turned down plans for an Asda store in 2003 because it was too big and in 2007 plans for another store were also rejected.