A drawn-out dispute between traders and developers over a car park in Birstall is finally being resolved after Kirklees Council has vowed to take action.
Permission was conditionally granted in December last year for the Shop Locally off-licence next to the High Street car park on 61 Low Lane, after it received 50 objections to the application made in July 2012.
Controversy hounded the work when this February a handrailing was placed outside the shop on the curb instead of away from its inner edge as conditions stated. Traders claimed this prevented cars from hanging over the curb, resulting in a decline in custom because drivers would be put off by the lack of space.
Birstall Chamber of Trader president Anne Thompson, who owns Sea Spray on Low Lane, has now received a letter on behalf of Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dewsbury East) which states that conditions will be enforced within 28 days.
Anne said: “I’m hoping after all this time we should be able to have confidence in elected officials and the people who were trusted to enforce these guidelines. It was made very clear in planning permission what they have to do. The Chamber of Trade is working so hard and trying to promote the village and one person can come along and do as they please to the detriment of others.
“We think it’s great that the developers have taken it on and spent time and money doing it up, but they need to be considerate. We need a level playing field and I’m afraid we don’t have that.
“My main concern is that people are going to be deterred because they feel they cannot park over the verge. And sure enough, nobody’s parking there.”
Drama surrounded the development from the start, when work allegedly began without planning permission. Once permission was sought, the objections were raised about drainage, pedestrian safety, its placement in a Conservation Area and opening hours.
But planners deemed it a welcome addition to the village because it took an empty building out of disrepair and was likely to bring economic growth to the area – something prioritised by both planning departments and the govermment.
The shop’s tenant was approached for comment but did not wish to speak. A spokesperson for Kirklees Council confirmed that the planning department had been looking into alleged breaches of the guidelines at the site with a view to enforcement if necessary.