Controversial Hebden Bridge plan to convert mill into 18 apartments deferred as councillors seek more legal advice

Councillors have deferred a decision over a controversial planning application which could see a mill converted into 18 apartments, seeking more legal advice.

The planning application could see a mill converted into 18 apartments. [Image: Google]

In essence, members of Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee who were considering the application by Kirklees Estates to convert part of Linden Mill, Linden Road, Hebden Bridge, into the apartments, wanted to know if there was a way they could ensure the development was effectively made car-free.

Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) said consideration should be given to unitary development plan policy on car-free development – this site was very centrally located, close to all amenities and within walking distance of bus and train services.

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Planning Committee members were recommended by planning officers to be mindful to permit the plans subject to some legal agreements, including a financial contribution to education.

But among councillors’ major concerns – shared by many of the objectors to the plans – were issues relating to traffic and parking.

They heard objector David Gilman and ward councillor Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder) describe the mill as being in a densely populated area, with homes on a number of neighbouring roads housing families with children often playing on the street.

Access was narrow, some of the streets were unadopted cobbled roads and parking was extremely limited, councillors heard.

Coun Fenton-Glynn said: “This is the wrong development in the wrong place – there is too much stress on those roads.”

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) and Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) were also concerned about the loss of space to businesses, many arts related.

The applicants argued development would provided much-needed homes in Hebden Bridge and to continue in industrial use, businesses would need to be paying commercial rents to cover cost of necessary repairs – those currently at the mill were not. The conversion plans also provided a financial solution to the repair issue.

Their agent Roger Lee said one major gallery, Artsmill, had already relocated to Hebble End Mill in the town centre and there was other space there.

Committee members asked a series of questions to try and discover if options including a legal covenant, planning conditions, refusal of parking permits or using traffic regulation orders could be used to effectively compel the development to be car-free.

Highways and legal officers offered advice but until definitive legal clarification on the potential mechanisms was available councillors felt they could not make a fully informed decision and agreed to defer.

They also had questions relating to ownership of a piece of land which would serve as the mill’s cycle and waste store.

Committee Chair Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) said: “I am increasingly feeling we need more information before we can make a decision.”

Briefing documents point out the former clothing manufacturing mill does have an existing permission to convert part of it to form an extension to an existing business-charity including overnight accommodation, a swimming pool and fitness area and an independent home.