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ACO CONFERENCE REPORT
HEBDEN
BRIDGE
Report by Keith Murray of Northern Region
The conference began with an introductory tour of Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall, followed by a lengthy evening of talks outlining the story of the area and the development of the use of cast iron in the textile mills. Such was the breadth of these two diverse subjects that the session did not end until 10:00pm.

The first session of Thursday morning was taken up by English Heritage speakers describing new RCHM publications on housing in North and West Yorkshire and archive information on the survey of mills in West Yorkshire.

Martin Robertson described the aftermath of the resurvey and noted some oddities which had cropped up including a Zepelin bomb shelter of 1916 in Cleethorpes. The production of the new list, he said, did not mean that requests for spot listing should be stopped, indeed, as Peter White, the next speaker noted, the number of requests has doubled with the bulk of these coming from the earlier greenback listing areas. Peter White said that nationally there were now around 450,000 entries with some increase still expected when the 1970s lists were revised.

Vanessa Brand described the standard form for recording buildings at risk which she has devised in conjunction with Kirklees D.C., and a Directory of Sources of Grant Aid which will be sent to all Local Authorities in the near future. A national survey is to be launched by English Heritage in the Summer.
The afternoon was taken up with a visit to two large mill complexes, Dean Clough at Halifax and Saltaire, north of Bradford, where it is hoped to house the Eastern Collection presently held at the V & A to form an exhibition of international status. This would take up approximately one-third of the available space in this vast building, the rest being devoted to art gallery, workshops and some light industry.

Afterwards a pleasant soiree at Bradford City Hall and a fine curry in an Indian restaurant situated in a portakabin (on a traffic roundabout) internally decorated with Artexed walls and GRP Corinthian columns! The evening was rounded off with several excellent glasses of Joshua Tetley’s finest bitter.

The joint day school with the RTPI on the Friday was held in the Birchcliffe Centre (a redundant Baptist Chapel converted for conference and residential facilities by Pennine Heritage) and chaired most ably by Tony Aldous.

Ken Powell opened the batting in characteristic style with an interesting and provocative address entitled “Where are the Problems?” the answer to which seemed to lie in the new suburban mega-developments, such as the recent proposals at Hammersmith and Wimbledon Town Centre. Political pressure gave cause for concern, particularly such events as the Secretary of State’s reversal of his inspector’s recommendations at the enquiry on the Hammersmith proposals.
Colin Arnott followed with a description of consultants Roger Tym & Partners’ reports on the problems of re-use of redundant mill buildings for the former GMC at its height there were over 20 million sq. ft. of unused space in the area. He described the “deep roof” concept in mill re-use, whereby a new user would use only the bottom two floors of a five storey building on the basis that it would take the rain 4 to 5 years to penetrate through the three upper floors.

Richard Butt continued with a description of the past and future directions of EH whose budget for 1988-89 would be £31.5m. He was followed by Peter Spawforth, former CPO, City of Wakefield, who described the last 20 years in West Yorkshire as a period of economic decline and gradual regeneration. Peter Robshaw from the Civic Trust rounded off the morning’s proceedings with a lively address on future prospects, regretting the abolition of the mets and the consequent strategic guidance and the inherent weaknesses of the proposed Unitary Development system. He also said that it was high time that demolition was defined as development and brought under control.

In the afternoon, Ernest Hall, the owner of Dean Clough Industrial Park, Halifax, gave a typically dynamic and enthusiastic delivery, followed by a largely inaudible description of housing conversion and new build in the Leeds Riverside area and a very well presented description of the regeneration of Little Germany, Bradford
APRIL 1988

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