CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
Huddersfield Unlimited (HU) and Huddersfield Civic Society (HCC) welcome the Secretary of State for Transport’s unambiguous recognition of the benefits of full electrification of the Trans Pennine rail route (TRU).
In particular, we welcome the confirmation of the contribution full electrification would make to decarbonisation of the railway as well as delivering improvements to reliability, freight and passenger capacity, regional connectivity and journey times.
We are disappointed that government will not take a decision until mid- 2021 to support the full TRU upgrade as part of the rolling programme of electrification, proposed by Network Rail.
Coming on the back of previous cancellations, this further delays the economic, passenger and environmental benefits that would flow from the full electrification of TRU, though they remain deliverable in the 2020s.
We urge the government to take the investment decision at the earliest opportunity, which remains important to help overcome the impact of Covid 19 and reduce economic dislocation in the North.
HU and HCS, together with other organisations including Zero Carbon Yorkshire, Railfuture (Yorkshire) and Action on Yorkshire Transport, invite the Secretary of State to confirm that Network Rail will discuss their forthcoming route priorities from their decarbonisation study (TDNS) in advance of making recommendations to government.
There is clear support from business and transport organisations, Kirklees Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, for the necessary investment to be included in government announcements early in 2021, on the assumption that this will deliver infrastructure improvements in the 2020s.
Department for Transport should as a minimum share their modelling of the impact of removing freight from the M62, reducing carbon emissions from the train journeys and the economic impact of full electrification to legitimise the potential recommendations and to enhance the wider benefits that could be achieved.
HU and HCS will continue to argue for this engagement as well making the case for the confirmation of funding in 2021.
The Yorkshire Post has published the following story:
Campaign groups have said Government backing for the full electrification of the Transpennine rail route between York and Manchester would signal that it is serious about levelling up the North.
Huddersfield Unlimited and Huddersfield Civic Society say electrification, which has been twice postponed, represents “an immediate and tangible opportunity” to help drive the economy of towns like Huddersfield in the right direction.
Both organisations have written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps asking him to demonstrate his commitment to full electrification of the entire Transpennine route, which was announced in July.
In their joint letter, Sir John Harman, chair of Huddersfield Unlimited, and David Wyles, chair of Huddersfield Civic Society, have urged the Government not to pass up “the best short-to-
medium-term opportunity of 'levelling up' for the North."
A decision made by Kirklees Strategic Planning Committee suggests the Council places little value on the heritage assets under its protection.
This is despite its commitment in LP35 of the Local Development Plan to ‘preserve and enhance the significance of heritage assets’.
The Civic Society believes that last Wednesday’s decision to approve the proposed development on Castle Hill, is indefensible and the proposal cannot be justified.
The proposed restaurant with rooms, café, bar and event facilities is an inappropriate development within the Green Belt.
As such, under national planning policy, permission must be refused unless ‘Very Special Circumstances’ are proven to justify what should be an exceptional intrusion into an area of Green Belt highly valued by local residents/ The key words are ‘very special’ and ‘proven’.
A number of local councillors joined the meeting and pointed out that no such case was made within the application. Indeed, three of the seven councillors also pointed out that the case for the development had not been appropriately justified and they voted against approval.
Despite this, the application was approved on a majority vote.
The Society has made no secret of its objection to the various proposals, over the last 15 years, since these have represented inappropriate development in the Green Belt ‘within’ the centre of a Scheduled Ancient Monument of local, regional, and national importance.
Historic England, tasked with protecting such assets, reconfirmed its objection ahead of the meeting, making plain no further attempts to address their substantial concerns had been made since January of this year.
Against this backdrop, Huddersfield Civic Society has decided that the planning considerations involved are of such significance that the application should be referred to the Secretary of State.
As a result of our request, the Secretary of State will, over the next six weeks, consider the application and determine whether the matters should be the subject of a Call-in Inquiry.
The concerns raised by the Society include:
We await the Secretary of State’s decision on whether these concerns justify Call-in.
Huddersfield Civic Society and Huddersfield Unlimited are concerned that the case for full electrification of the trans-Pennine route from York to Manchester needs to be made more effectively at this time, having twice been postponed by government and with national decisions on rail investment imminent.
We are working with others that support the case for full electrification and see the clear benefits of its being a priority for investment. They include Kirklees Council, Zero Carbon Yorkshire, Railfuture (Yorkshire) and Action on Yorkshire Transport.
The case for full electrification is also supported by a number of national transport and environmental organisations, for example Campaign for Better Transport and the Campaign for Rural England.
We recognise the critical importance of launching a programme of railway electrification across the North of England, to benefit the economic prosperity and social vibrancy of our communities.
Civic Society members and the public are invited to nominate their favourite buildings in our 2020 Design Awards.
Established in 2012, the awards have been presented to the best developments within Huddersfield completed over the past couple of years.
You can nominate projects in the following categories:
There is no restriction on the number of nominations.
The Society will again team up with the Examiner so its readers have a chance to vote for the development which they feel has contributed most towards helping improve the quality and image of the town. Please do not nominate buildings that were winners in our 2019 awards.
Nominated buildings should fall within the former Huddersfield borough boundary, that is between Outlane and Fixby in the north, Berry Brow and Almondbury in the south, Milnsbridge in the west and Cooper Bridge and Waterloo in the east. Projects must have been completed between July 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020.
Members have until December 31, 2020, to submit their choices. Judges will choose the winners from each category and decide who receives the Examiner Readers’ award. These winners will be presented with specially designed slate trophies, with an additional trophy awarded to the outright winner next spring. (The event will be dependent on the Covid-19 situation).
Consideration will be given to the following in determining the winning categories:
Not only will the awards raise the profile of Huddersfield Civic Society but of the town itself, something that we, as Society members, the Examiner and its readers are keen to do. We also hope that category winners will be submitted for consideration in the national design awards organised by Civic Voice.
Let us know which buildings you think have been sympathetically converted, new shop fronts, new developments, community projects or structures that have contributed to Huddersfield’s built environment.
We look forward to receiving your nominations.
Completed nomination forms can be posted to John Lockwood, The Barn House, Ashes Lane, Almondbury, Huddersfield HD4 6TE or complete your form online on our design awards page.
A virtual heritage walk organised by Kirklees Libraries in partnership with Discover Huddersfield has received plaudits from as far afield as Seattle.
The walk, devised by Frank Grombir and Lorna Brooks, was based on the Birkby Trail leaflet, one of 17 produced by the Discover Huddersfield partnership.
The trail was broadcast live on September 17 as an event held as part of the annual Heritage Open Days Festival.
By the end of September there had been 403 views of the trail on YouTube and a high number of positive comments on social media. They included ‘…a hugely enjoyable walk ..’, ‘fantastic tour, thank you’ and ‘…a brilliant job …It really was informative and a real pleasure to watch’.
The programme is now available on YouTube as well as Facebook for people to watch at any time. Bolstered by its success, further trails are being developed with two events scheduled for broadcasting in October and November:
To listen to the broadcast at these times go to You Tube – Kirklees Libraries - Local Heritage Walks and Talks. Other DH trails can be found on the Discover Huddersfield website.
The virtual trails are intended to meet three objectives:
In addition, one of the programme's great advantages is the ability to see the hidden aspects of local heritage thanks to aerial 3D views enabled by Google Earth.
For further information contact David Wyles on 07483 226982.
Huddersfield Civic Society has announced the winners of its 2019 Design Awards. Chairman David Wyles and former Chairman Chris Marsden judged an impressive range of projects nominated by HCS members and the public in early February 2020.
Above, President Bernard Ainsworth presents the overall winner award to hotel manager Mark Ayre of the Manor House, Lindley. Full story on our Design Awards page.
Sixteen venues or locations in Kirklees will open or offer events as part of the national Heritage Open Days festival, which runs for ten consecutive days from September 11.
This year’s selection offers an insight into places not always open to the public. Venues include John Greenwood, Dewsbury’s oldest shop and now a local history museum, High Flatts Quaker Meeting House and several Anglican churches.
There is a unique scavenger hunt around Dewsbury’s Crow Nest Park and a hidden nature trail at Oakwell Hall Country Park, both celebrating this year’s national theme, Hidden Nature.
For the first time, there are two virtual tours; Birkby Heritage Trail, Huddersfield and St Bartholomew’s Church, Marsden, which can be enjoyed from home.
Kirklees Heritage Open Days committee chair, David Griffiths, said: '‘The Covid situation has severely limited the programme of events, so we really appreciate the efforts of the volunteers who have kept Heritage Open Days alive. I hope people will take care, stay alert but, above all, enjoy participating in this unique festival’.
A biography to be published this month explores the 'mysterious and elusive' Huddersfield architect William Henry Crossland.
Crossland was born in 1835, the son of stone mason Henry Crossland, and baptised in Elland. By 1841, the family was living in Longwood House, Fartown.
He became a pupil of the London architect Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1850s and went on to set up his own practice in Halifax.
Kirklees Council has approved its own plan for three tall sculptures to be built on New Street, in spite of objections submitted by HCS.
Details of appearance or landscaping remain undisclosed but the council says approval of those matters must be obtained before development is begun.
All we know of the 'sculptural features' is that they will have a maximum height of 12 metres and be made of metal 'with an open structure to give a feeling of lightness'.
This was the text of our objection sent to the council:
Kirklees Council has given an assurance to Huddersfield Civic Society that it has 'no plans to weaken or abolish any planning committees'.
The pledge by council leader Cllr Shabir Pandor was made in response to concerns expressed in a letter from society president, Bernard Ainsworth.
Cllr Pandor writes: 'Public input into decision making is an essential element of our democracy. Our focus as an administration is on improving engagement with local people and working with them on the issues that affect them. Localised decision making on planning issues is clearly part of that process.'
By DAVID WYLES, Chairman, Huddersfield Civic Society
I was saddened to hear of the death of Joe Marsden who, with his brother John and families, contributed so much to the town over many years.
Joe epitomised what is termed ‘the hospitality industry’, with his warm welcome, generosity, humour and understanding of the people for whom the night club, bistro and hotels became their favourite venues.
Huddersfield Civic Society is working to support Kirklees Council develop plans for the Huddersfield Blueprint’s Station Gateway.
A new, west-side station entrance, with a pedestrian link from St George’s Square, would revitalise the railway warehouse and surrounding area. The square itself would benefit from the removal of vehicles accessing the station.
This week the Society submitted an outline for a suggested approach to Peter Steniulis in the Council’s Major Projects Service.
HCS has established a joint transport working group with Huddersfield Unlimited to help improve transport links in and around the town.
The group has identified five themes that are important to the economy and quality of life in the town, including digital connectivity. Initially the working group will focus on two areas:
The transport working group is also writing to Kirklees Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to offer assistance in further developing current ‘active travel’ initiatives (i.e. measures to encourage greater cycling and walking) and to improve communications with civil society.
Martin Booker, RIBA, Managing Director of Fibre Architects, gives a personal view on the future of town centres
During the lockdown I’ve mainly been working from home and on the couple of occasions that I had to visit our office in Huddersfield I decided to cycle the seven miles to work on my recently purchased electric bike.
This made me realise the great work and investment that has been made by Kirklees and Sustrans in recent times to make this type of journey much more safe and enjoyable for cyclists, and the 30 minutes it took was only a little more than the 20 minutes it sometimes takes in the car.
The George Hotel, birthplace of rugby league, is to house the sport's first national museum – a decision that has won the support of Huddersfield Civic Society.
Rugby League Cares have forged a partnership with Kirklees Council to bring the attraction to the hotel where clubs met in 1895 to agree a breakaway from the Rugby Football Union.
HCS is broadly supportive of Council proposals to upgrade the Open Market and efforts to secure Heritage Action Zone status for key buildings around St George’s Square.
However, it remains cautious about the viability of moving traders from Queensgate Market.
An online talk last night to HCS members and supporters on a possible cycling strategy for Huddersfield proved remarkably prescient.
Kirklees Council today announced that a number of roads around Huddersfield and North Kirklees are to be turned over to cyclists as it uses the coronavirus crisis to "completely rethink the way towns work".
By David Wyles
After consultation with colleagues from the Discover Huddersfield partnership, we feel there is no likelihood that walks will resume within the next few months.
Even if the government allows such things to take place, our feeling is that many of our walkers may be classed 'vulnerable' or remain sensitive to joining a group. Similarly our walk leaders and support team may feel uneasy.
By David Wyles
I hope our members and their families have stayed free of the virus but if you have been infected, I wish you a speedy recovery.
Digital committee meeting
Your committee held its first online meeting on May 18 and was pleased to receive a presentation by Karl Battersby, Kirklees Strategic Director for Economy and Infrastructure. Work to realise key ambitions within the Blueprint is moving ahead and you may have seen reports on our web site and in the Examiner relating to the purchase of the George and other strategic buildings.
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
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