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Studio BAAD's Hebden Bridge scheme triggers death threats

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Hebden Bridge-based Studio BAAD has become the victim of a hate and intimidation campaign after submitting revised plans for a mixed-use development in the West Yorkshire town.

Over the last few weeks bricks have been thrown at the practice’s windows, staff members’ car tyres have been let down and the firm’s PR has been told in a phone call that he would be ‘drummed out of Hebden Bridge in a wooden box with the lid nailed down’.

The practice is pointing the finger of suspicion at opponents of its ambitious £10 million Garden Street project, which could create 48 homes, eight shops and 160 ‘much-needed’ car parking spaces in the centre of the former wool-producing town (AJ 10.07.08).

‘For schemes to elicit strong feelings in people is nothing unusual,’ said architect Philip Bintliff, from Studio BAAD. ‘But this is the first time that we have experienced actions of this nature.

‘This would appear to be a clear attempt to intimidate those involved with the scheme but also, more worryingly, an attempt to intimidate anyone who has shown support for it as well.’

He added: ‘We are aware that local businesses have had their livelihoods threatened for demonstrating support for the scheme and that is unacceptable.’

‘This level of intimidation could potentially have a direct influence on the planning process as well as a hugely negative impact on the reputation of Hebden Bridge.’

A West Yorkshire police spokeswoman confirmed police enquiries into the spate of incidents were continuing, though no arrests had been made.

She said: ‘We take any form of intimidation seriously and any offence will be followed up by the officers who have already spoken to the complainant’.

The most vocal anti-development reaction has come from a resident organisation called the Garden Street Action Group, which has denied having any involvement in the attacks.

Despite the uproar, the designs have received support from both English Heritage and CABE, which described the scheme as ‘refreshing’ and ‘responding well to the complex historical context of the site’.

Calderdale Council is expected to make a final decision later this month.

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