|Response to LDF Proposals “Land Use Where You Live\" [06. Apr 2009 23:14]
|1. We question the validity of the data which underpin the projections for housing, employment and industry in the Government’s Regional Spatial Strategy. Events have overtaken the forecasts. The world economic crisis is likely to be long-lasting, making any predictions of future demand, made prior to the collapse, overly optimistic. The council’s own attempts to identify “weaknesses in current evidence” on housing need and demand are still incomplete, making housing projections highly problematic.
2. It is strongly felt that no incursions should be made into green belt for housing and industry. Defined settlements must be maintained and attractive green land sites be preserved to avoid coalescence.
3 As a key element of sustainable development there should be maximum density of housing in brown field sites (which does not include garden infill) as long as imaginative designs are adopted. The economic and industrial slump could well result in unexpected windfall sites becoming available which are not considered in these proposals.
4. The proposals underestimate the effect of the various developments on transport needs. An imaginative plan to integrate transport, housing and industry seems lacking. The role of the railway network is conspicuous by its relative lack of emphasis in the plans. More and better car parking at stations should be made available to reduce the use of cars by town centre commuters.
5. We echo the concerns of English Heritage that the proposals lay insufficient emphasis on our historic assets. The statement on local distinctiveness 5.107 dealing with conservation areas should commit to publishing conservation management plans rather than just “consider” doing so.
6. The potential for tourism in Huddersfield/Kirklees is also underplayed in the LDF proposals.
7. Building on flood plains must be avoided.
We do not consider it appropriate for the Society to opt for any of the nominated options as it is very unlikely that any one will be adopted as it stands: each has its advantages and disadvantages; the likely outcome being an amalgam of parts of each of the options. However:
8. Options 1 and 2 are unsatisfactory as they take away too much green belt land in Huddersfield, particularly at Bradley (both) and Fixby (Option1). The land is well used green space and developing it contradicts the LDF policies on Green Infrastructure and Protecting Open Space.
9. Option 3 proposes the removal of a considerable area of green belt land between Newsome and Castle Hill. This would be a serious loss of amenity land and deleteriously affect the setting of Castle Hill which is an iconic feature of the Huddersfield landscape and a key element in any expansion of tourism in the town.
10. Option 4 causes Huddersfield a disproportionate loss of green belt for housing and is therefore unacceptable to the Society.
Members felt that there had been flaws in the consultation process. The time scale for interested parties and residents to discuss the plans was too short to enable informed consideration to take place. Publicity of the proposals and the consultation process was seen to be inadequate. The graphics and mapping were considered to be poor: it is very difficult to evaluate different options when the maps are not scaled.
Frank O’Brien on behalf of Huddersfield Civic Society
|Street Clutter Article in the Examiner [14. Feb 2006 17:41]
|Dr Cedric Cullingford, Professor of Eductaion at Huddersfield University and member of the Society recently (06/01/06) had the following article published in the Huddersfield Examiner regarding the signs and 'street furnature' in our town centre.
To view the entire article, Click here.
|Library and Market Hall [28. Sep 2005 21:39]
|These have at last been listed, both at Grade 2. Kirklees promised consultation on the area is still awaited.
|Response to St George’s Square Revival [15. Sep 2005 14:59]
|The Society has considered the preliminary proposals of Kirklees MC in committee on two occasions and takes the view that there are three alternatives for the future of St George’s Square.
Firstly, exclude all traffic and make the area pedestrian friendly. Secondly, increase the bus flow and make the area into more of a passenger interchange. Thirdly, do nothing.
The argument for a traffic-free zone is that traffic detracts from the magnificence of the Square and is dangerous for pedestrians. The area could be developed for recreation and leisure with outdoor restaurants etc – but restaurants in particular would of course need weather protection such as screens and canopies and these would need to be sympathetic to the environment. The loss of traffic would be a boon to people who work in the area and to the new residents it is hoped to attract into flat developments presently proposed.
An earlier proposal for the Square was the incorporation at its lower end i.e. outside The George Hotel of a sunken garden (with fountains?). This would surely be a great improvement on the suggested addition of even more of Marshalls’ finest – which can be extremely depressing on wet days when there is no relief to break the monotony. Fountains or public art would in our view provide the focus which all the Council’s present schemes lack. There is also some concern about possible vagrancy and this could be deterred by careful planning.
Of course, the question then arises as to how vehicular access would be obtained. It is the Society’s view that this should either be by link off Fitzwilliam Street, preferably with a multi-storey car park on the site of the existing temporary one or off John William Street just past The George Hotel, again preferably with a multi storey car park, but this time on the railway-owned land at the back of The George Hotel. In the former case, passengers would enter the station, and the non-travelling public the Square, via the underpass – which would be opened up and improved. We understand that there are presently objections from the railway authorities to the extension of the underpass - which presumably accounts for there being no mention of it in the Council’s leaflet and the entrance not showing in the sketches. We would like to hope that the Council would not regard such objections as being insurmountable and would be happy to participate in any negotiations. However, misgivings have been expressed by some of our members about the safety of underpasses and they would prefer a footbridge. This might be more acceptable to the railway authorities.
The second option is to improve the present interchange of passengers by bringing the various modes of transport closer together i.e. by bringing more buses into the Square. Some would argue that the purpose of a railway station is to access the railway and that its forecourt should be geared to railway users. Others would say that Huddersfield is different in that it has a very fine “stately home with trains in it” masquerading as a railway station and therefore needs a proper “stately home” forecourt.
There is no doubt that the present system is woefully inadequate. We hear tales of people exiting the railway station and not being able to find their way to the bus station. Even those who do so may have to lug heavy articles up St George’s Street – and often in poor weather. Not very friendly to visitors or residents, and particularly difficult for the elderly and infirm. To have more buses using the Square would therefore be a great improvement from this perspective, but the downside, as said earlier, is the greater danger and annoyance to pedestrians generally.
A number of people are of the opinion “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” which brings us to option three. It could be argued that the present set up addresses part of each of the above arguments for the Square and is therefore the best compromise. To do nothing would certainly avoid the inevitable disruption of earthworking and “monkeys” would not have to learn new “tricks”. It would also answer the unfounded criticism of the general public (who, not surprisingly perhaps, do not understand the funding principles under which the Council is constrained) that the Council is wasting taxpayers’ money.
An extension of option three, perhaps option 3b)?, might be to make some “improvements” without totally disrupting the present arrangements. We think here of the earlier reference to improving/extending the greenery and introducing some public art including fountains. The placing of a Tourist Information kiosk and the improvement of the present connection between rail and bus by diverting rail passengers along towards the tunnels, adding lifts and putting in covered walkways – even a travelator up St George’s Street - might also be considered.
We note that there is no provision in any of the Council’s options for the long-standing practice of coaches setting down and picking up passengers – or is it proposed that this is to be outlawed and coaches re-directed to the bus station? And what about the numerous times when buses have to be laid on as an alternative to trains because of e.g. track maintenance. Have the train-operating companies and Network Rail been consulted about this?
We have to admit to having some difficulty in forming a unanimous view of the proposals. However, the majority view is that nothing should be done.
We hope our comments are of assistance and, if the Council decides to press ahead and make changes, we would very much appreciate having the opportunity to comment on the more detailed designs.
18 August 2005