“Welcome to 1970s Birmingham.”
CPRE is supporting Holme Valley Vision’s campaign against a preposterous road scheme that threatens the heart of Holmfirth (Image above: Margaret Dale from Holme Valley Vision).
Holmfirth is a truly thriving small town, with a fantastic range of independent businesses and a real appetite for greater things. The Institute for Place Management and Manchester Metropolitan University have carried out research into the factors that affect town centre viability and vitality and consider that the town is doing well at a time when other small towns are struggling. Fending off a Tesco supermarket from an out of centre site a few years ago was the starting point for the work done since to ‘Keep Holmfirth Special’. The constrained road system in the area was decisive in stopping Tesco, and can therefore take some credit for helping support diverse local businesses.
But the one crucial ingredient that all the evidence points to for the success of any town centre businesses is this: pedestrian traffic. If you want busy shops, cafés and cultural activities, you need people walking around. Ideally that means fewer cars, but encouraging cars to move slowly and give pedestrians priority is the main issue. That’s especially important for children’s safety.
Inexplicably, Kirklees Council are proposing to do the exact opposite. They want traffic to flow more freely through the town centre by building a new bridge, demolishing the market town’s Market Hall in the process, and installing a one-way circuit system. Margaret Dale from Holme Valley Vision sums it up perfectly as “a 1970s Birmingham solution”. The impact on Hollowgate, which regularly closes to enable popular festivals and would no longer be able to do so, would be particularly catastrophic.
Spend even just a few minutes in central Holmfirth, and you can easily see what is needed to support the growth of the town’s businesses:
– Improve the environment for pedestrians
– Increase the total amount of car parking but move it out of the central area, freeing up central space for an enhanced public realm, including a regenerated market area, and so increase pedestrian traffic (Holme Valley – Vision have identified potentially suitable sites for new car parks).
– Address the real causes of traffic congestion by reducing informal on-street parking and enforcing restrictions on delivery vehicles at peak times
– Ensure that through traffic, especially HGVs, are routed to the main A628 route and don’t clog up Holmfirth (the A628 is scheduled for improvements next year in any case).
Holme Valley Vision is calling on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which manages transport funding, not to finance Kirklees Council’s ill-conceived scheme. The money could be used to far better effect. It’s a scheme that could turn Holmfirth’s dynamism into decline.
You can add your voice to the objections to the scheme at www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/holmfirth before 5th April. Please, help to protect Holmfirth!