Carnival atmosphere as supermarket wins backing

HUNDREDS of jobs are set to be created in Elland after a planning committee ditched officers’ advice and supported Morrisons’ bid to set up in the town.

Planning meetings are often dry affairs but there was more of a carnival atmosphere as more than 300 people packed into the Shay stadium banqueting suite in Halifax – specially hired for the occasion – many wearing T-shirts and waving flags backing Morrisons.

Supermarkets traditionally do not generate such passion but a huge head of steam had built up over this application with many residents incensed at Calderdale planners recommending rejection of not only Morrisons’ bid but one from Asda too.

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The town has suffered from a serious lack of investment over the years and the thought of a major supermarket chain spending millions in the area and creating jobs meant the chances were the committee were always likely to overrule their planning officers.

Former council leader John Ford, who was recently re-elected to represent the ward after several years in the wilderness, had added his weight to the supermarket backers in recent days saying how he would be speaking forcefully at the meeting and reiterating how badly needed the planned investment at Wistons Lane was.

He said: “most of the public” wanted the supermarket.”

Another application – by Asda to build on land at Dewsbury Road was deferred. It was much less popular than Morrisons’ one.

Both schemes had been recommended for refusal by planning officers who at the last minute asked for both to be deferred to allow traffic concerns with the Asda proposal to be addressed.

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But the planning committee rejected the request and was unanimously minded to permit the Morrisons scheme, which will now go to the Secretary of State for ratification and for planning conditions to be drawn up.

A Morrisons spokesman said yesterday: “Last night’s planning meeting was a positive result and we are a step closer to realising a new Morrisons for Elland.”

Morrisons wants to demolish the existing NuSwift Factory and construct a food store and petrol filling station at Wistons Lane.