CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
It has, perhaps, been a relatively quiet month as we await news from many areas of interest, for example the outcome of the trans-Pennine rail upgrade enquiry.
Nevertheless, here’s a brief update outlining some of the work we have been involved with in the past month.
Discover Huddersfield Trails and Walks’ Programme 2022
Two walks are scheduled for May.
The Changing Face of Birkby on Sunday, May 8, will follow Birkby’s development from a green hamlet to a densely populated multicultural community, including the site of a medieval motte and bailey fortification.
On Thursday evening, May 19, Discover Huddersfield has, for the first time, teamed up with Marsden History Group to offer an evening’s exploration of the village.
Bookings for each walk will be available via Eventbrite no more than 14 days before each walk. To view all the year’s walks, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/discover-huddersfield-guided-walks-programme-2022-120689.
Walks cost £4 per person and usually last between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
Town Centre Blueprint
On Thursday, April 21, myself and a number of Executive Committee colleagues benefited from a very useful meeting with David Shepherd, Kirklees Executive Director of Growth and Regeneration and Simon Taylor, Head of Town Centre Programmes.
David provided an update on progress regarding various components of the town centre blueprint and addressed some of the issues and concerns that we have articulated, particularly in relation to the ‘Cultural Heart’ proposals being developed by consultants Fielden, Clegg, Bradley Studios (see more about this in the news section on the HCS website).
Key issues included concerns regarding visitor perception, particularly the maintenance of streetscape and flower beds; the need to focus on visual improvements and car parking over the several years during which key projects will be developed; revenue budgets – the ability of Kirklees Council to manage and maintain these facilities, active travel links and energy efficiency/climate change.
Although we recognise the disappointment of some members that the Rugby League museum will no longer be accommodated within the restored George Hotel, the current proposal to extend the rear of the property (subject to careful articulation of the design and materials) in order to attract a hotel operator of national significance, can only benefit the regeneration of the town centre as well as retaining the historic use of the building as a hotel.
We were pleased to hear that Ove Arup and Partners has been awarded the consultancy contract to undertake master planning work for an area of land from the railway station to the A62 Leeds Road transport corridor, St Andrews Road, Gas Works Street, as far as the stadium. This includes the area to be developed by Huddersfield University as a Health Innovation Campus, about which we benefited from a presentation by Prof Liz Towns-Andrews at our annual joint lecture with the university on March 1 (see Report of Events section on the HCS website for more).
St Peter’s Gardens
HCS committee colleague Sylvia Johnson and I recently attended an on-site meeting with representatives from Kirklees, the Diocese and St Peter’s Church.
The gardens are the town’s only green ‘lung’ and the meeting was to explore initial ideas, thoughts and concerns for this important space (the gardens are a key initiative within the Blueprint). Permissions have already been obtained to provide level access into the church and provision of parking spaces with connected landscaping including relocation of memorials in the area. These works have yet to be done.
The PCC, local authority and HCS are now working together to explore how improvements could be made across the wider churchyard, knitted in with the already-approved works.
There are key concerns regarding the moving of gravestones which form the majority of pathways and the current poor standards of maintenance but we are very keen to work jointly and, above all, ensure the area remains a predominantly green, safe, quiet and well managed oasis for rest and relaxation. However, this will be a lengthy process and subject to recording gravestone inscriptions, applications submitted by the Parochial Church Council and faculty approval.
In addition to this, the Parish Church has been awarded a £48,456 funding boost from the SUEZ Communities Trust for its new kitchen in the crypt as part of a phased plan to improve access to the church and crypt. The space had many community users before the pandemic and the church now hopes to rebuild this area with enhanced facilities.
Unfortunately, because of ill health we no longer have a Planning Officer to check on weekly planning lists and forewarn us of key applications affecting listed buildings, conservation areas and major developments.
Members will see from the website that over the years we have submitted constructive but sometimes critical responses to a range of applications. Without monitoring such proposals HCS is failing in one of its most important tasks.
Although individuals from the Executive Committee are doing their best in spotting schemes of interest we are desperate to identify an HCS member who will be able to check the lists. It only involves an hour or two each month and guidelines have been prepared to help anyone able to undertake the task. Please let me know if you are able to help out.
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
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