Todmorden Straw Bale Hotel

Bringing Affordable, Beautiful and Healthy Accommodation to Todmorden’s Visitors!

Founder members of the Todmorden Strawbale Hotel Community Benefit Society that will design, build and deliver the Hotel are:

Barbara Jones, Principal of the School of Natural Building, Director of Straw Works
Penny Marrington, Local resident, Green Councillor for Todmorden
Mary Clear, Chair of Incredible Edible Todmorden

Why?

Firstly, Todmorden is desperate for more accommodation!  Many local people live in small houses that are not big enough for their family and friends to stay when they have a get-together. We are also a popular tourist destination, but many visitors have to go to nearby towns to stay as there is not enough provision within Todmorden.  A strawbale hotel, with function rooms for community use, would make a huge difference.  It is intended that overnight stays would be set at affordable rates so that local people could use the hotel for their own guests. We anticipate that the Strawbale Hotel will not offer food, thereby encouraging guests to use local restaurants, pubs, cafes, take-aways and the market.

Secondly, the Hotel will be built entirely of natural materials, thus ensuring it will be a very healthy place to stay, and providing a showcase for natural building to others. This will create a tourist attraction in itself that will benefit the economy of Todmorden.

The build itself would enable people, including Todmorden residents, school children and members of the wider public, to participate and learn natural building skills. A core of trained Todmorden people could be the heart of a new industry for Todmorden – affordable, natural build, flood-resilient housing.

The Hotel will be set in the centre of town, at the heart of Pollination Street (created by Incredible Edible and the people of Todmorden) and where we already have a tradition of local festivals.
Working in conjunction with the outdoor space of Pollination Street, and with local neighbours, the Strawbale Hotel would be able to host festivals and conferences. The whole complex and its innovative ideas will provide interest, training, volunteer and work opportunities for local people.

Todmorden Strawbale Hotel, unique in the UK, will provide tourist accommodation for visitors to the town, extra accommodation for local people who have no spare rooms for their guests and a focal point for community activities.

The Plan

The exterior of the Strawbale Hotel has been designed to echo the lines of the Town Hall, and to complement the surrounding stone buildings. It will sit in a green space with water as a feature.

We envisage a 2 storey building approx. 30m x 50m with a slightly raised ground floor comprising reception area, conference room, meeting rooms/ smaller rooms. Upstairs, there will be about 10 rooms of varying sizes offering low cost accommodation for up to 24 people, and in the attic space, a dormitory for walkers and cyclists or those on an even lower budget.  We will want the rooms to be themed by local artists and organisations.  The space is designed to be versatile, and rooms can become offices or meeting spaces or small studios, and it could cater for weddings and other events.

Calderdale MBC Cabinet Report February 2013

A scheme emerged through the Renaissance Market Towns Programme in 2002 which led to the Upper Calder Valley Renaissance Initiative. A feasibility study then formed the basis for the future development of Bramsche Square and the evolving project enabled the Council, Yorkshire Forward and representatives from the local Town Team to prepare the Development Brief.

The brief encompasses Bramsche Square, Tipside, the Healds Building, markets, the former Health Centre and nearby carparks. The Project Board formally agreed to initially focus on the area around Bramsche Square, Rose Street and car parks, leaving the Healds Building and Tipside for the future as too many complex objectives were over complicating and hampering progress.

The site agreed by the Board includes the car parks at Bramsche Square, School Lane and Halifax Road – a total to 100 spaces currently forecast to generate around £55k per annum.

Included in the Development Brief was the site of the former health centre on Rose Street. Yorkshire Forward agreed to assist in the purchase of the site in order for the building to be demolished. The fund was granted subject to a Funding Agreement and the terms of this will need to be taken into account in any future scheme.

The site is also subject to an Overage Deed drawn up by the PCT. the former owners, which subjects the Council to financial penalties should the site be re-sold at a profit and giving the PCT the power to claw back a proportion of it.

The former Rose Street Health Centre and car park were bought in October 2009 for £725,000, by Calderdale MBC with money primarily (£530K) from Yorkshire Forward. The Health Centre was demolished, and a ‘meanwhile’ garden created (by Calderdale MBC, Todmorden Town Council and Incredible Edible volunteers) at a cost of around £97,500 and the intention was to offer the centre of Todmorden as a development opportunity for a single developer. Nothing materialised. £1million Local Authority Business Generation Initiative (LAGBI) funds had been allocated to the RoseStreet/ Bramsche Square project in 2008. This money is gradually being spent on various small projects through the Todmorden Development Board. When Yorkshire Forward ceased to exist, the Funding Agreement was transferred to the current government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). When Calderdale sell the site, they will retain only a small proportion of the sale monies, the rest going to the HCA.

In 2015, faced with the possibility that the site would be sold for the development of luxury retirement homes, Todmorden Town Council nominated the Rose Street site as an Asset of Community Value, based on the fact that the people of Todmorden had embraced it as a beautiful and useful community space, and wished to keep it. This nomination was refused by Calderdale MBC (papers can be found on the Todmorden Town Council website). However, Todmorden Development Board has now published a new Development Brief for the Bramsche Square/Rose Street site which is much more sympathetic to the wishes of the people of Todmorden to retain a public (and community-owned) space in the centre of town.

We would like Calderdale to transfer this land to the Todmorden Strawbale Hotel Community Benefit Society so we can build a hotel with and for the people of Todmorden. With the goodwill of Incredible Edible, Todmorden Information Centre, town councillors and the many people who have signed their support for a strawbale hotel on Rose Street (as well as the 2022 who signed a petition in 2015 to keep Rose Street for the people of Todmorden) we have some force behind us for this project, and we are determined to secure the necessary plot and make it happen.