VILLAGERS gathered to discuss speculation about supermarket developments near Honley.
Two separate projects are known to be in their early stages.
One is at Hope Bank Works between Honley and Brockholes, the other is at the joint site of Keith Drake agricultural merchants and Kirklees Council’s highways department, off Woodhead Road.
Upmarket retailers Waitrose and Booths have been linked with the Hope Bank proposal while Morrisons has been suggested for the Drakes site, despite plans to extend its nearby Meltham store.
Tesco, whose application to build a store at Holmfirth was turned down, has refused to confirm or deny connections with either site.
At a meeting at Trinity Church, Honley, residents and local councillors were given a chance to voice their views.
Executives behind both schemes were invited to the event, but only those behind Hope Bank attended.
No planning applications have yet been submitted but Holme Valley North councillor, Charles Greaves, praised Jeremy Child, director of Acumen architects, backers of the Hope Bank proposal, for responding to residents’ concerns.
Clr Greaves, said: “The meeting was very productive.
“Hope Bank gave us an update but Drakes declined the invitation so we still don’t know what they are proposing.
“Hope Bank have been very open and they’ve been out to talk to people.”
Clr Greaves said attendees were unconvinced of the need for a supermarket but admitted he had also received many emails supporting the idea.
He said: “The mood of the meeting was, ‘Do we need a new supermarket?’
“There may be some claims about how fantastic it will be but the thing about 300 jobs is spurious.”
And he said many people were concerned about the traffic implications and the effect on local traders.
He said: “If the roads are choked up there’s a worry people will stop coming into the village.”
The Green Party and Valleys Independent also says the sites may be better used as business parks when the economy picked up.
“There’s a real concern that a supermarket could go anywhere in the Holme Valley.
“What we want in the area is decent jobs that help generate an even stronger local economy.
“Local businesses tend to buy local services, whereas large companies like supermarkets do not.
“I think some of the benefits of having a supermarket have been overplayed.”
Clr Greaves also moved to dispel growing sentiment that the sale of the Kirklees site would bring a cash injection to the area.
“That’s not how it works,” he said. “Any money would go into Kirklees’ capital pot.
“There would be no bonanza, no windfall for the valleys. Also the quality of service we receive from being so close to the depot, we could lose.”
He continued: “It’s early days, the Holmfirth Tesco proposal could come back.
“Views are differing, some people favour one over the other. We’ve also got people who want an upmarket retailer to offer something different.
“Then there’s people who want a big supermarket and others who don’t.
“So we’re pulling in about six different directions at the moment. The problem is some people are forming opinions on the basis of incorrect information.”
Clr Greaves encourages anyone with a view to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org