Tesco will not have a new store in Holmfirth.
And the retail giant has told the Examiner they have no current plans for the Holmfirth area after their bid was rejected by the Planning Inspector John Gray.
Highway issues stood out as the key reason why Mr Gray dismissed Tesco’s appeal against Kirklees Council’s planning refusal.
Mr Gray ruled that if the existing highways network was already inadequate, a proposal that makes it worse is not acceptable without any ideas to resolve it.
Having heard the arguments, Mr Gray summed up: “I have assessed the evidence to the inquiry on its objective merits and without reference to who was actually adducing that evidence and my conclusion is that the appeal should fail.”
In his report Mr Gray raises the issue of further traffic on Penistone Road, saying: “It is argued that traffic generated by the proposed supermarket would worsen the situation at the junction by only a very small amount. That is not a compelling argument.
“If the existing situation is technically inadequate, something that would make matters worse cannot be considered acceptable in the absence of any proposal that could provide a satisfactory resolution.”
A Tesco spokesman told the Examiner: “Clearly we are very disappointed by the decision.
“The new store would have provided Holmfirth with a great value and convenient supermarket, reducing the need for people to drive out of the town.
“It would also have created over 150 jobs.
“We would like to express our gratitude to the many local residents who put so much energy into supporting our proposals.”
Asked if the refusal signals the end for Tesco in the Holmfirth area, the spokesman added: “We have no current plans.”
A planning inquiry was held in July to hear the arguments for and against a Tesco supermarket at the former Midlothian Garage site at New Mill Road, which had been rejected by Huddersfield’s Planning Committee in 2011.
Kirklees Council, Morrisons, Co-Op, Lidl and residents all spoke at the planning inquiry.
Kirklees Council’s case was that a rival site in Honley was “sequentially preferable” in planning policy terms.
Morrisons have struck an agreement with Kirklees Council for the Honley site. No planning application has been submitted.
The Planning Inspector considered four issues:
Whether there was a sequentially preferable site for a food store within the defined catchment area.
What the inspector said: “There is not a straightforward conclusion. The Keith Drakes/Reins Depot (Honley) site qualifies as edge-of-centre, if only just. It would not be as sustainable as the (Tesco) site because of its off-centre location within the primary catchment area, but it is still well-placed to claw back trade presently leaking to Huddersfield.”
The Honley site can be “considered sequentially preferable to the appeal site. It is suitable, available and viable.”
Whether the food store would have a harmful impact on Holmfirth town centre.
What the inspector said: “Holmfirth town centre is a healthy and attractive one. There is no reason why that degree of impact should have a significantly adverse effect on its existing vitality and viability.”
Whether the site was accessible by people not using cars.
What the inspector said: “The numbers likely to shop on foot would be low.” He ruled foot, cycle and bus does not count against – nor in favour – of Tesco.
Whether the traffic generated would have
harmful highway impacts.
What the inspector said: “It is already very difficult at many times of day to drive safely along Heys Road at more than 20mph ... (on Miry Lane) to add additional through traffic seems
Mr Gray said the Honley site is favoured as it “would not generate additional through traffic on minor, essentially residential roads”.
REACTION to Tesco losing their appeal for a store in Holmfirth is split.
Throughout the planning process there were groups formed and residents coming out for and against the store.
Following the Planning Inspector’s ruling, Clr Nigel Patrick, Holme Valley South Conservative, urged Kirklees Council to act on the Inspector’s comments about highways.
Clr Patrick, who had spoken in favour of a store, said: “I’m disappointed but I was impressed with the inspector.
“It’s a pity Tesco was unable to convince the inspector and even Kirklees right at the start.
“I think a lot of people will be disappointed.
“At the end of the day the inspector couldn’t get past the highways difficulties.
“I do hope, however, that Kirklees Council puts some of the money they get from the sale of the Honley depot into making the roads in Holme Valley South more suitable.
“Heys Road, Miry Lane and Bridge Lane were all raised as problems. Well, let’s get them up to standard.
“I think Honley will get approval because it is in the council’s interests and I think Honley will grow as a town centre because of it and Holmfirth will be poorer as a result.”
Tim Radcliffe, also a supporter, described it as a “huge missed opportunity” and said: “If Kirklees admit there are highways problems, and they freely have, then they need to do something about it.
“Tesco offered to improve the infrastructure.
“I hope they come back, but I have my doubts. If Morrisons open in Honley I think it will completely drain Holmfirth.”
A Kirklees Council spokes-woman welcomed the decision, saying: “This decision was fully supported by the Huddersfield Planning Sub-Committee. As such, the council is very pleased with the outcome of the appeal, particularly as this has been a long-running issue within the local community.
“Unlike other developments a supermarket proposal of this scale would always intensify activity on the road network for a large part of the day, potentially attracting visits both locally and from much further afield.
“Whilst we try to be supportive of development, in this instance the council was always concerned that a supermarket in this location would cause localised highway problems and delays that were too great.
“This reflects the nature of this part of the Holme Valley, where the road network has been shaped in a way that reflects the local topography and solutions to particular issues are not easy to deliver.”
Alex Bray, of Andrew’s Greengrocers, spoke at the inquiry about the impact of a Tesco on his family trade.
Yesterday, Alex rallied support for the town’s trader, saying: “I think it’s fantastic news for Holmfirth to have stopped one of the big boys building an out-of-town supermarket.
“Over the last six months there have been new shops opening in Holmfirth and we all hope we can all help build a more thriving and vibrant centre.
“We know there were people who wanted a supermarket so we have to work hard to get people coming back to shop in Holmfirth.”
November 29, 2008: The Examiner first reported on plans for an “ecologically-advanced supermarket” in the Holme Valley. “It will be the greenest Tesco supermarket in Yorkshire, if not the entire country,” said a Tesco spokesman said at the time.
December 2008: A public consultation ran in Holmfirth into Tesco’s plans for the Midlothian garage site on New Mill Road.
December 2008: Holmfirth Against Tesco, a coalition of concerned residents and traders, was formed after a public meeting at Holmfirth Parish Church.
Summer 2009: The former Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford entered the debate, criticising Tesco.
Summer 2009: Keep Holmfirth Special formed.
August 2009: Kirklees Council received 1,300 objections and around 50 in support of the planning application.
September 30, 2009: Tesco shelved the plans: “We feel more time is needed to address some of the details of our plans,” Tesco told us.
May 2010: Rumours of a Honley supermarket began circulating.
September 2011: Lidl announced plans for a store on Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth.
September 2011: Tesco returned with a second application for a smaller store in Holmfirth. The application was submitted in December.
February 2012: Morrisons confirmed they were looking at sites in the Holme Valley.
February 2012: Lidl get planning permission for Holmfirth store.
February 2012: Holme Valley Voices (HVV) formed to promote a range of views, including supporters of Tesco. A HVV survey later showed 72% of respondents to a survey wanted a Tesco.
February 2012: Co-op formally opposed Tesco’s bid for Holmfirth.
March 2012: Morrisons announced plans to extend its Meltham store.
July 2012: Kirklees councillors reject the application, with 13 of 14 councillors voting for refusal, the 14th abstained.
August 2012: Plans for a Honley store stepped up a gear with suggestions of a Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Booths.
January 2013: Tesco launched an appeal to Kirklees Council’s refusal.
September 2013: Planning Inspector John Gray dismissed the appeal.