WORRIED shopkeepers have spoken out about plans for a new outdoor activities store in Holmfirth.
A proposal to convert the former CragRats Mill into an ‘outdoor retail experience’ has been lodged with Kirklees Council.
Wooldale-based applicants, Winwood Marketing Ltd, say the plan would create 10 jobs with the possibility of eight more over 15 months.
Managing director Graeme Holmes said he wanted to create a “destination store” similar to those in known walking hotspots in the Lake and Peak Districts.
And despite there being two other shops offering outdoor clothing in the town, Mr Holmes said he was not out to upset anyone.
But Colin Baker, manager of Outdoor Attitude in Station Road, Holmfirth, said he was sceptical about the plans.
“The vast majority of our customers are not tourists,’’ he said.
“We’ve got a lot of people on our loyalty scheme and more than 80% are HD9 postcodes.
“I understand what he’s getting at but Holmfirth doesn’t have Ingleborough’s caves and it’s never going to be another Ambleside or Windermere.
“Holmfirth is a very expensive place to have a shop in my opinion and this may threaten what we do as it’s inevitable there will be an amount of duplication.”
Holme Valley Sports shop owner Kate Redfern said she had not heard from Mr Holmes.
She said: “I’m happy to work with anyone in the same industry.
“We can do that by not standing on each other’s toes.
“There’s a lot of brands out there and if we can offer a wide range I’m optimistic that can happen. But currently we know he has a highly discounted internet shop and we’re all nervous that he’s going to do that at CragRats.”
But Mr Holmes said: “There isn’t really a selection of stores like there is in Hathersage or Skipton where there are five or six shops that have different offerings,’’ he said.
“I have spoken to the owners of Outdoor Attitude and said we don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes, let’s work together, but they didn’t get back to me.
“But we do want to work with the existing businesses.
“With the greatest of respect to Outdoor Attitude they don’t have the space to sell tents like we will.
“I don’t believe anybody is doing camping properly in Holmfirth.”
Mr Holmes, who currently runs an internet-based camping and outdoor company from his Wooldale home, said he had taken advice and was confident Holmfirth could be developed as an outdoor sports hotspot.
He added: “We had a place up in Keswick which we sold in 2003 and we’ve been looking for the right place ever since.
“The mill is a lovely building and what we’re looking to create here is a destination site that will attract the outdoor type of person.”
Other plans for the ‘Let’s Go’ branded store are a cafe and a dedicated information area with maps of walks and attractions with links with Holmfirth Tourist Information Centre.
Weekly mountain biking and walking sessions could also operate from the building and plans to offer bicycles are being considered.