CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
There have been a number of initiatives to report on especially, I am
pleased to say, regarding consultation between Kirklees officers, myself and colleagues on the Executive Committee about developing projects within the Town Centre Blueprint area. Some of these have since been posted on the HCS website (www.huddersfieldcivicsociety.org.uk) but I’ll briefly summarise some of these consultations as well as other news.
Huddersfield Cultural Heart
Kirklees has commissioned two very experienced consultants to look anew at proposals covering the piazza, library/art gallery, Queensgate Market and related areas including the Town Hall and LBT.
A recent meeting with consultant IPW which has an extensive portfolio in advising on the development of stadia, music and cultural venues, provided us with an opportunity to input into their early thoughts.
Topics covered ranged from replacement of car parking facilities, improvements and possible extension to library/art gallery to provide improved visitor access and facilities, especially to the gallery, future use of market incorporating possible music venue (not of arena proportions), museum/display facilities (to compliment Tolson Museum) and children’s play facilities.
Street Improvement Programme
A meeting with highway and regeneration officers provided an update to future phases of street improvements, including New Street, Dundas Street and Macaulay Steet and, more recently, proposals for the Station Gateway, primarily Northumberland Street and John William Street. The latter proposals have now been put out for public consultation (see HCS website for details).
Work carried out to date has been of a high quality though we have queried some of the details regarding New Street, especially the sculptural pillars for climbing plants which HCS had previously raised objections to, particularly relating to future maintenance and revenue costs.
We also highlighted the poor level of upkeep and cleanliness of litter bins, utility boxes and other street furniture, in contrast to the overall standard of paving materials and the need for a clear policy for waste and disposal facilities given the increase in residential conversion proposals in the town centre.
Earlier in the week myself, Martin Kilburn and Sylvia Johnson had an equally useful meeting with Nigel Hunston, Kirklees Council’s Team Leader (Town Centre Conservation & Design). Nigel provided an insight into preparatory work to look at the future of this Grade 2 listed building and its immediate surrounds.
It was gratifying to know that Kirklees is working with two architectural practises with extensive experience in both reviving markets, including Leeds and Preston markets, and in projects which recognise the importance of preserving and enhancing the heritage elements of the building.
The meetings above demonstrate that, as a society, we are fortunate in participating at an early stage in the evolution of these projects. We may not always achieve all the suggestions we make but thank those officers who recognise the positive input that HCS can offer.
The last walk of the season on Sunday, October 24, is now fully booked. It indicates the popularity of these walks which this year were promoted through Eventbrite and limited to around 20 people.
The Discover Huddersfield team is now looking towards 2022 and the hope of working more closely with the Huddersfield BID (Business Improvement District) manager Sam Sharp.
Two new trail leaflets are in production – Textile Heritage and Limelight and Greasepaint Act 1, the latter written by the late Brian Haigh, vice-chair of Huddersfield Local History Society. These should be available by Christmas.
As mentioned in my last update you can also follow the trails or views them from the comfort of home by visiting the new web app: https://huddersfield.onfoot.guide/
Transpennine Rail Improvements
As mentioned previously, colleague Geoff Hughes has been working closely with Huddersfield Unlimited (HU) ahead of the public enquiry in November.
The HU/HCS Transport Group’s submission to the forthcoming public enquiry, scheduled at the Stadium from November 2 to about December 10 has now been submitted. It is effectively a reworking of July’s ‘Statement of Case’ recast as an oral statement, formally called a ‘Proof of Evidence’.
By Friday, October 29, we aim to make our formal request to take the Enquiry Inspector on a walk to show our points in person. In the meantime, HCS/HU’s goal is to catalyse constructive working between Network Rail, Kirklees Council and HD1, the owner of the railway warehouse.
There would be huge advantages in the three bodies working together on a formal basis. HCS/HU is also closely coordinating with Kirklees Cycling on station access issues, the Chair of which, Chas Ball, is also an HCS trustee.
Design Awards 2021
The time of year has come when I’d ask all our members to keep their eyes open for any project that they feel deserves to be nominated in the HCS annual Design Awards. You can find details of how to nominate projects on the HCS website (see news item below or go to the Design Awards page).
The closing date for nominations is December 31, 2021 for the following categories: Best New Build, Best Shop Front, Best Refurbishment, Best Residential Development, Best Commercial Development and Best Community Project.
There is no restriction on the number of nominations you enter and we are keen to help raise the profile of projects that have contributed to Huddersfield’s heritage and built environment.
Memories of our Square
A special website celebrating the history of St George’s Square is now up and running and people are urged to add their own memories to it ... and they could also feature in a book. Huddersfield Local History Society’s website Our Square (https://oursquare.huddersfieldhistory.org.uk/) is building up a history of the square, including photos.
For more information about the project see the HCS website ‘News’, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Memories of Our Square Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3063308933946811
Comments have recently been submitted objecting to a proposal at King James’ School, Almondbury, to discharge a condition for the use of natural York stone facings on a proposed development which received permission some months ago. The building lies within Almondbury Conservation Area and within the curtilage of a listed building.
We feel that it is vital that Kirklees sets high standards for its own developments and this attempt to use artificial stone as a substitute undermines the council’s own policy ‘to preserve and enhance the quality and character of a conservation area.’
Submissions regarding other planning applications can be found on the HCS website.
Thursday, November 25 at 7pm: Professor Peter Roberts: Kirklees Climate Commission.
Peter was recently appointed chair of Kirklees Climate Commission and is Professor Emeritus of Sustainable Spatial Development at the School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds.
Professor Roberts has vast experience of housing and regeneration, including the Board of the Housing Executive, the NHS Confederation Sustainable Development Group (Co-chair) and the Academy for Sustainable Communities (Chair).
His research and knowledge of climate change and the issues facing local authorities will provide the perfect forum for understanding what is undoubtably the most important issue facing our future.
Further details on venue and booking will be circulated soon.
From January 2022 membership subscriptions will be increasing from £10 for individual members and £25 for Corporate Members to £12.50 and £30 respectively. In checking with HCS Treasurer Michael Barron when subs were last increased he revealed it was in 2008!
Our costs have, unsurprisingly, increased since then, including payment for speakers, hall hire, membership of regional and national civic bodies, Design Award trophies, management of the HCS web site etc.
I hope this small increase will not come as a shock and hope that, not only will we be able to maintain our current membership levels but, in the next year, attract new individual and corporate members at a time when so much about the town is changing and our input, as you can read above, is having a direct influence on the shape of things to come.
Members will be formally contacted about these increases in coming weeks.
That’s all for now.
It’s the time of year when we invite Huddersfield Civic Society members and the general public to nominate their favourite buildings in our annual Design Awards.
Established in 2012, these prestigious awards have been presented to the very best developments within Huddersfield that have been completed over the past couple of years.
Nominations for the 2020 awards were perhaps limited by a slowing of new development and restoration projects as a result of the pandemic and other factors.
However, we received a range of outstanding projects, including two projects involving local community groups, namely friends of Greenhead Park (Examiner Readers’ Award) and Windrush Garden, Springwood, planned by the Developing African Caribbean Communities group.
The outright winner’s trophy was presented to the University of Huddersfield for its conversion of the former Broadbent’s Bath House, now the Sovereign Design House and Toast House Café at the University of Huddersfield, designed by AHR architects.
Between now and the end of December we hope you will be on the lookout for exemplar projects within the following categories: Best New Build, Best Shop Front, Best Refurbishment, Best Residential Development, Best Commercial Development and Best Community Project.
There is no restriction on the number of nominations you enter and these can easily be submitted to the society by completing a simple form on our website or emailing us the relevant details (see below).
In addition, HCS will again be teaming up with the Huddersfield 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.
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, 2019 and December 31, 2021.
Members have until the December 31 2021 to submit their choices. From nominations submitted, judges will choose the winners from each category. The winners will be presented with specially designed slate trophies with an additional trophy awarded to the outright winner in springtime 2022 (the presentation event will be dependent on the situation regarding Covid-19).
Consideration will be given to the following in determining the winning categories:
Quality of design and materials
Appropriateness to street setting and adjacent property
Contribution to environmental sustainability
Quality of landscaping
Contribution to community enhancement
Not only will the awards raise the profile of Huddersfield Civic Society but of the town itself, something that we, as Members of the Society, the Examiner and all 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.
Keep your eyes open for projects that have contributed to Huddersfield’s built environment and let us help raise the profile of those who developed and designed them.
We look forward to receiving your nominations.
Simply download the attached form, fill it in on screen and email it back to email@example.com
People have been urged to have their say on a major improvement scheme involving Huddersfield Railway Station and its surrounding area such as John William Street, Northumberland Street and Trinity Street.
The detailed proposals for the scheme called Huddersfield Rail Station Connections can be read by clicking here.
Huddersfield Civic Society will be formulating a response to the proposals but would also like to hear what HCS members and members of the public think so please email your thoughts to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The project is a joint venture between Kirklees Council, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and their partners and aims to make it easier for everyone to make their way between the railway station and the places where they live, learn, work or visit in Huddersfield town centre.
It’s being funded by the Leeds City Region Transforming Cities Fund, a major new programme of investment to improve access to public transport, cycling and walking while helping to reduce car journeys and tackle the climate emergency.
The public consultation is now live and will be open for 4 weeks until Monday, November 8.
You can view the proposals, read supporting information and have your say by completing the consultation survey here https://www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/hudds-access
Autumn is now with us, nature may be slowing down but your Executive Committee certainly isn’t and there is plenty for me to update you on.
Heritage Open Days, Discover Huddersfield and a New Web App.
I hope many of you managed to attend or participate in one or more of the 59 venues and events within this year’s Heritage Open Days programme. The talk by Sheila Binns, organised in partnership with Huddersfield Local History Society, about architect W H Crossland, was attended by more than 70 people and the five Discover Huddersfield Walks attracted maximum numbers, helped by sunny weather.
The last walk of the Discover Huddersfield 2021 season will be on:
Sunday, October 24 at 2.30pm and is called Surprising Lockwood - From Elegant Spa to an Industrial Hub
Meet at the Water Street Car Park, Lockwood, HD4 6EJ (adjacent to Grappolo Restaurant).
Join Ian Stevenson on a circular walk starting from Water Street Car Park.
See some of the early 19th century buildings which were to be found in the spa village of Lockwood, attracting visitors from all over the country, then later as the Industrial Revolution helped to establish Lockwood as a lively hub of textile and engineering excellence. The walk will cover around 1.5 miles, costs £4 per person and can be booked up to 14 days before it is scheduled to take place by clicking here.
Discover Huddersfield Web App
Launched during Heritage Open Days a Web App, The Huddersfield On Foot Guide, reveals the heritage of the town for those with smartphones and those who want to discover the history of the town on their computer from the comfort of home.
The app is based on the printed Discover Huddersfield Trails with 12 trails available to follow covering themes such as Historic Buildings and Transport, cultural heritage including the Caribbean and Music Trails and local centres such as Birkby and Lindley.
Huddersfield On Foot works by using your phone’s GPS to see where you are, a map to follow points of interest and information about local landmarks. Access to the trails is free and available to all. The app can be opened by going to https://huddersfield.onfoot.guide/
Transpennine Rail Improvements
Colleague Geoff Hughes has been working closely with Huddersfield Unlimited (HU) and liaising with Kirklees Council officers ahead of the public enquiry in October. Attending the TRU Public Enquiry is a serious commitment for HCS with deadlines for submissions rapidly approaching.
One issue that is restricting a key element of the HCS’s consultation submission and preparation of a Statement of Case relates to our view that the proposals for the station must include provision for a link between St George’s Square, the station and the site of the railway warehouse and associated parking area. This is fundamental to realising the regeneration of the ‘New Town’ area within the Huddersfield Blueprint.
Network Rail has stated that the call for cross-station access is out of scope of the Transport and Works Act Orders (TWAO) since there is no existing consented development into which its plans for Huddersfield station have to fit, within its narrow remit to upgrade the line itself.
HCS and HU are attempting to discover whether discussions between Kirklees Council and owners of the warehouse are progressing, as such limitations could seriously inhibit the aspirations for this part of the town centre.
Huddersfield Blueprint – Recent Progress
Having been concerned that, having been consulted on a number of town centre projects at their initial stages but having received little feedback, our President, Bernard Ainsworth, wrote to Kirklees’ Chief Executive, prompting a response and resulting in a very useful meeting with key officers in late August.
Although I’m sure some members will have read various media articles relating to various initiatives I will try and briefly summarise some of the key projects being pursued:
New Street: Detailed proposals are being finalised for consultation with business and interest groups for the end of year. A poem by Simon Armitage will be integrated into the street pattern and designer Pip Hall had prepared designs for the vertical planters. HCS originally objected to these and still has concerns regarding maintenance of the structures and planting.
We also raised the poor maintenance of utility boxes and signage which are integral to ensuring comprehensive improvement and the issue of waste disposal and collection given an increase in the number of above shop residential applications being submitted.
McCaulay Street/Dundas Street: Much publicity has been given to McCaulay Street and concerns raised regarding retention of the open space and proposals for vehicles being allowed access from Upperhead Row to exit onto High Street. Kirklees Highways engineer provided a very clear outline of proposals that limited access with gates at other times to restrict access to vehicles servicing the pub and a handful of other businesses.
We were satisfied that retention as an open space would not be compromised. This and improvements to Dundas Street, details of which we have since been sent, are due to be implemented in 2022 with ‘gold standard’ materials ie. stone flag pavement and granite kerbs for Dundas Street.
St Peter’s Gardens: Little to report of landscaping proposals but experimental Traffic Order had allowed improved access for funeral corteges. HCS emphasised frustration voiced by St Peter’s regarding lack of information regarding progress and promise of liaison made over a year previously.
High Street/Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ): Asbestos and major structural problems have been revealed at The George Hotel with supervision regarding listed building issues being overseen by the senior conservation architect from Bowman Riley Architects. A development manager is to be appointed to co-ordinate future use and several options are still being explored.
A similar process will now take place on Estate Buildings which many of you will see has now been virtually hidden by scaffolding. High quality residential use appears the favoured option for this building.
HCS frustration was voiced over lack of progress regarding the improvement of shopfronts along that section of John William Street on leaving the square. Many years ago HCS advocated taking enforcement action against unauthorised work on these important heritage buildings. Officers have negotiated with various owners and tenants and offered substantial improvement grants but to date no applications have been submitted.
We hope that a mix of legal action and grant will be vigorously pursued to improve what currently is a visual disgrace to anyone who lives locally or visits the town. A similar grant is available for Cross Church Street which similarly presents a very poor image of the town.
Cultural Quarter: Market, Library/Art Gallery, Town Hall and Piazza: Since our meeting we are pleased to hear that IPW consultants have been appointed to look at the use of all the components of this area, including car parking and links across the ring road to the university etc. We have an early consultation meeting with IPW next week and the views of the Executive Committee have been consolidated and sent to IPW, expanding on comments submitted during the initial consultation on the Blueprint in 2019. I will report on progress in my next update.
Our thanks to the officers who we know are dealing with some of the most complex projects to have been developed for many years. We hope that, beyond initial consultations, positive engagement will continue on all these initiatives, which are crucial to the future of the town centre.
Among those applications that have been brought to our attention there has been a spate of minimum standard and seemingly low-quality conversions for residential use of upper floors within the town centre. While very much supporting residential development to support investment and bring life back into the town we have concerns over many of these units, many of which will be approved. The current exception is a high quality conversion of upper floors on King Street by Acumen Architects which we have supported and click here to see the full application.
We are currently in the process of organising our events programme for later this year and for 2022. I will report further in my next update.
I am pleased to report that HCS has secured the services of former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content Andy Hirst who now runs his own business AH! PR to manage our website for a further 12 months. As you no doubt know, a wide range of articles has been published and stories forwarded to other media outlets. The site is essential in our work in balancing the heritage, culture and attractions of the town while participating and promoting its future and in reaching a wider audience.
Let me know if you would like to be involved in any of our work or related initiatives such as the Discover Huddersfield partnership which always requires volunteers to support the walks’ programme.
Update from Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
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