THE battle of the supermarkets in Elland is not over yet.
In a lively public planning meeting attended by a boisterous crowd of around 500, councillors heard rival bids by Morrisons and Asda who both want to build in Elland.
And during the meeting the councillors and council officers pitched one application against the other.
Calderdale councillors were unanimously minded to permit the Morrisons development, much to the delight of the cheering crowd, but it has been referred to the Secretary of State for approval.
It went against the recommendation of the council’s planning officers who said it fell within a conservation area and was close to a Grade One listed building.
However, the councillors deferred the Asda application at the request of the company, which submitted last-minute alterations to their highways plans for the site off Dewsbury Road.
The Asda application had been recommended for refusal due to traffic implications. But it was the only plan earmarked for a retail use site in Elland by the council.
It is the third application by Asda for Elland. Previous attempts were thwarted in 2001 and 2007.
Most of the public audience heckled and booed the Asda application and the company’s property communications manager, Philip Bartram, said at the meeting: “I have the hardest job convincing you to back an Asda store in Elland.”
One Elland resident, Sandra Smith, called on councillors to bring the “10 year saga to an end once and for all” and added the council had a “once in a lifetime opportunity to develop the town centre.
Backing the Morrisons application, she added: “To refuse this opportunity will be the final nail in Elland’s coffin and one which may be left to go rusty and never be removed.”
The meeting saw majority support for the Morrisons application, with residents holding signs saying ‘Fuel for Elland’ and ‘Yes to Morrisons’, waving Morrisons flags and wearing T-shirts and baseball-style caps promoting the supermarket.
Mark Finch, of Asda, spoke in opposition of the Morrisons application. He said of the rival plans: “The officers recommendation (for refusal) we believe is conclusive and should be supported. It fails to comply with national planning guidance.”
But councillors spoke in favour of the Morrisons application.
Elland’s Clr David Hardy said of Morrisons: “The site is ideal and I think it is fit for purpose.
“Morrisons is saving 70 jobs, which in my opinion is the best option as it saves jobs and brings in 300 jobs.
“In times of austerity as we are in now... these jobs are going to mean a lot to Elland and a lot to the Calderdale community.”
Asda’s proposed siteoff Dewsbury Road, would force engineering firm Ardeth to relocate, putting 60 jobs at risk.
Morrisons is keen to knock down the NuSwift Factory and construct a food store and petrol station on land at Wistons Lane. Morrisons promised to help NuSwift relocate, keeping the 70 jobs.