Inspector dismisses Heron Foods appeal citing impact on existing businesses

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

Holme Wood Social Club

Proposals to knock down a popular Bradford club and build shops in its place have been delivered a blow by a government planning inspector.

Local councillors have expressed “delight” at news that an appeal to build a Heron Foods and three other shops on the Broadstone Way site of Holme Wood Social Club has this week been dismissed.

And they now hope the decision can help kick start work to develop Holme Wood that was first proposed in 2012.

A committee of councillors refused the application last summer, saying the development could be detrimental to the existing shops in the area. They said the application did little to refer to the Holme Wood and Tong Neighbourhood Development Plan – a document drawn up in 2012 to regenerate the area.

At the meeting Bradford Council was heavily criticised for failing to follow up on this regeneration plan.

Applicant J Cordingley of Crag Investments appealed the decision late last year, disputing claims the shops would harm the vitality of other areas of Holme Wood.

But on Wednesday Planning Inspector Graham Wraight dismissed that appeal.

He said the application gave no indication as to whether any other sites in the area had been considered for the retail development, or consideration of the impact on existing businesses.

His decision said: “Reference is also made to there not being a convenience store in the Local Centre however there appears to be a trading convenience store present at the current time.

“The appellant’s statement of case offers assumptions that the convenience food store would increase footfall to the Local Centre, but there is no evidence in this regard nor reference to the other three retail units that are proposed in terms of their impact or relationship to the Local Centre.

“Therefore, on the basis of the information I have before me, it is not possible to determine whether there are sequentially preferable locations within the Local Centre that the proposed development, or elements of it, could be located, nor what the impact would be upon its vitality and viability.”

The application has gone through an unusual process to get to this stage.

First revealed in early 2020, the plans caused uproar among many residents, who claimed the loss of the pub would be a major blow to the local community.

However, the application was approved by the Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee in June.

But in August the Committee took the unusual decision to bring the application back so members could re-assess their decision.

It came after Tong councillor Michael Johnson raised concerns that when the plans were first discussed, members had not taken into account the Tong and Holme Wood Neighbourhood plan – a document dating back to 2012 that planned out future development in the area.

After the second debate, members voted to refuse the plans due to the impact the new shops would have on the viability of existing shops in the area – which the neighbourhood plan says should be refurbished and expanded.

Earlier this month Bradford Council began consultation on its Local Plan – which set out future development across the District, incorporating aspects of the Holme Wood and Tong Neighbourhood Plan.