The annual general meeting of Huddersfield Civic Society was held on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in the Reception Room of Huddersfield Town Hall. Chairman: David Wyles.
1. Apologies for absence.
2. Minutes of the 2018 AGM (download link at the foot of this page).
3. Matters arising from the 2018 AGM minutes.
4. Chairman’s Report.
5. Treasurer's Report.
6. Election of Executive Committee.
Other Committee Members:
NOTE. Membership Co-ordinator (Ex officio): Laura West
7. Appointment of Independent Examiner.
8. Any other business.
The meeting was followed by Huddersfield in 50 Buildings, an illustrated talk by Chris Marsden.
The story of Huddersfield's rise to national prominence, told through some of its finest architecture, has been published.
Huddersfield in 50 Buildings is by Chris Marsden, a former chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society, with pictures by Andrew Cavaney. Chris will speak about his book at the HCS meeting on April 2.
Among structures celebrated are the railway station, the University's Oastler Building and, perhaps more controversially, Queensgate Market. Over 96 pages, Chris and Andrew take readers on a tour of historic buildings and modern architectural landmarks.
Chris says: "Introducing and exploring the history of the town through 50 significant buildings of all ages allows new perspectives on our townscape. Buildings that we may take for granted have histories that show us what we were.
"Their secret histories link buildings together through their builders, occupants, purposes and events. I’m asked daily about the town and its buildings I hope the book will answer many questions and provoke still more."
The book also includes archive photographs that have not been seen for decades or are published for the first time.
Chris's top five buildings:
Huddersfield in 50 Buildings, Amberley Publishing, 13.49.
The society is backing Kirklees Council in its bid for a share of the Government’s new £675 million Future High Streets fund.
The fund aims to help local leaders transform town centres by consolidating high street properties, improving transport and access and converting retail units into new homes.
The council says that it is looking to secure £25m to create 'a vibrant cultural quarter'. Proposals include a museum, a 'significantly enhanced' library and art gallery, and a new live music venue.
In a letter to Karl Battersby, Kirklees Strategic Director, Economy and Infrastructure, HCS chairman David Wyles says:
"We would entirely support your bid at a time when critical actions and partnership working are emerging to facilitate much needed investment in restoring confidence and vitality in our town centre."
"Besides being the major town in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, Huddersfield is distinguished in a number of ways that highlight the critical importance of support:
"It has one of the highest number of listed buildings in the country – higher than many better known ‘historic’ cities, but the Town Centre Conservation Area was included on on Historic England's Heritage at-Risk Register in 2018. Vacancies, both on ground and upper floors have increased dramatically as has the loss of commercial businesses to out-of-town locations.
"It has a distinguished cultural life including the Contemporary Music Festival, choral society, literary festival etc, but constraints have severely limited (and prevented) the opportunity to pursue joint ambitions for a focus for various cultural and social activities.
"It has a population catchment in retail terms of over 350,000 but is more vulnerable than many towns because of the close proximity to large, out-of -town centres including Meadowhall and Trafford centres.
"The university has grown in stature and provides huge opportunities of mutual benefit, curtailed to an extent by negative perceptions of the town.
"Beyond the above and more we, as you know, are keen to work as a ‘critical friend’ with your teams and have already applauded involvement in work to develop the masterplan, design framework and shopfront improvements.
"We in parallel will provide support and positive messages through our web site and initiatives such as our annual design awards, themed workshops, Discover Huddersfield trails and walks programme etc.
"I hope this provides some indication of why investment is currently so critical and once secured can begin to attract match funding for regeneration from the private sector. "
Three workshops organised by the Huddersfield Partnership have been attended by the society.
The Partnership gives town centre businesses a chance to outline their recommendations for the Business Improvement District (BID).
BIDs are part of the Government’s plan to encourage partnership working between a local authority and the business community. A BID is a defined area which can be developed in towns, cities and industrial estates.
Rate-paying businesses within the area decide on improvements to help transform it – and then vote to agree the investment. If supported by a majority of town centre businesses, the BID will provide income raised through a levy on the rateable value of property.
Depending on the final area chosen, the levy should raise between £346,000- £423,000 a year over a fixed period.
This would be on top of any funding allocated by Kirklees for town centre improvements, providing the businesses with a say in how they feel the money should be spent.
HCS committee member Peter Sargent attends BID meetings on behalf of the society.
He said: "We are at a crucial stage in preparing a draft plan indicating where funds will be prioritised.
"The plan will be launched in May and the ballot of property owners in June. The result of the ballot will be announced in July and, if there is majority support, work on improvements projects could start as early as October 2019."