Clog mill's expansion stamped out by council

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A YORKSHIRE clog manufacturer has called on the Department of the Environment to help fight local planners who, he says, will force him out of business if he is not allowed to expand.

Walkley Clogs has been producing its distinctive footwear near Hebden Bridge in west Yorkshire for 120 years, but recently it has become a hugely successful tourist attraction. The factory attracts more than half a million visitors a year, who come to see how the footwear is manufactured and buy goods from craft shops inside the building.

This influx has put pressure on the road system and caused dismay among local residents who can barely move at weekends. The company is at loggerheads with the local Calderdale council, which maintains that the retail side of Walkley's business is not covered by existing planning permission.

Many councils might have turned a blind eye, knowing that employment can be boosted by tourists, despite their nuisance factor. But not in Hebden Bridge.

Mark Clyndes, a local businessman, bought the four-storey clog mill six years ago and regenerated it with a mixture of craft units and speciality shops. He has been told by the council that his company should fund a new road network to ease traffic congestion at the factory site. To finance the roadwork the company submitted a plan to expand on an adjacent plot of land but this has been turned down by local planners.

Mr Clyndes said: 'Unless we can develop the land next to the mill, the reason for people wanting to come here is likely to die.' Walkley's has appealed to the Department of the Environment to request that Calderdale's planning committee grants retail use and new road access permission. But a council spokesman said that such a move would be contrary to its development plan. He said: 'The clog works are not allocated for retailing and the use of it as a fairly major retailing centre would be contrary to the council's shopping policies . . . '

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