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Council’s ‘biggest-ever decision’ on Barnoldswick store plans
11:00am Friday 24th August 2012 in News
Plans for a supermarket in Barnoldswick moved a step closer to reality after a proposal by local firm Albert Hartley was given the go-ahead by councillors on Monday.
A crowd of more than 100 people filled the Rolls Royce leisure club during a four-hour meeting of the West Craven Area Committee that saw Albert Hartley redevelopment of its Crownest Mill site chosen over two others - Liberty Properties and Leggett and Platt Springs Ltd’s joint plan to build a Tesco superstore on L&P land off Wellhouse Road and Pendle Projects Ltd’s proposal to build a smaller Aldi store at the former gasworks yard in Skipton Road.
One councillor described it as the “biggest decision” she had ever had to make regarding the future of Barnoldswick.
“Twenty years ago we fought against a supermarket proposal and won, but times are changing now,” said Coun Jennifer Purcell (Cons, Craven). “This is the biggest decision this council has ever had to make.”
The Albert Hartley plan includes the demolition of existing buildings, erection of a new industrial unit and building a new 3,348 square metre new foodstore with 223 car parking spaces.
Although the size of the foodstore is similar to the proposed Tesco superstore, the Albert Hartley outline application does not specify which supermarket would develop the store. The smaller application for Aldi was for a 1,472 square metre store with 71 car parking spaces.
The committee members’ votes for the Albert Hartley plan came after workers at the firm spoke at the meeting about their concerns if the plans were not approved.
Mike Ralph, a representative for the company, said: “Albert Hartley would have no option but relocate from the town.
“This is clearly a complex debate, but there are two main factors for us, one being the employment issues and the other being the condition of the building itself. Our property is clearly obsolete and not fit for purpose.”
Stephen Myers expressed his disappointment that Pendle planners had recommended refusal of the Albert Hartley plan.
He said: “You can imagine my dismay when I heard that planners had recommended refusal of the Crownest Mill site. The company would have no option but leave Barnoldswick. Jobs would be lost, mine being one of them.”
David Reid added: “Currently 130 jobs are at stake, but these are not just jobs, they are people’s livelihoods. I’ve worked there for two years, and we often end up mopping up after a rainfall. The building is crumbling.”
The committee also representations in support of the Tesco and Aldi stores, but also from others who opposed all three applications, including Martin Johnson, a representative of the Barnoldswick and West Craven Chamber of Trade, who said: “Supermarkets have a detrimental effect on the viability and vitality of town centres.”
The weight of the decision clearly weighed heavily on the minds of West Craven’s councillors, who partway through the meeting acknowledged that a decision needed to be made.
Committee chairman, Coun David Whipp (Lib Dem, Craven), said: “We have been debating this as a community, as a town and as councillors for over a year. It’s come to the point now, that we have all the information, it’s only right and proper that we make a decision.”
Coun Morris Horsfield (Cons, Earby ) was the first councillor to indicate which proposal he was going to support.
“I’m quite keen on protecting jobs, so I’m swinging towards Albert Hartley in that respect,” he said.
Coun Janine Throupe (Lib Dem, Coates) added: “Having listened to everything tonight, I would like to represent the majority and it’s only fair that we look to save jobs in the town.”
“Several speakers have talked tonight about the need to investing in manufacturing,” added Coun Whipp.
“We’re proud that Barlick is a manufacturing town, exporting goods around the world. People would like to see manufacturing remain in the town.”
After more debate, councillors approved in principle the Albert Hartley plan, subject to discussions about a Section 106 agreement aimed at making improvements in the town centre. They refused the other two applications on the cumulative impact they would have to the town centre.
The final decision on the plans will be made by the Secretary of State, and an appeal by Liberty Properties regarding the non- determination of the Tesco plan will be heard in early October.
However, Chris Soper, managing director of Albert Hartley, was pleased with the outcome.
He said: “We are delighted that the council is supportive of our application to enable us to stay and build a new Albert Hartley in Barnoldswick and protect the jobs of our loyal workforce and secure the future of textiles in the area.”