CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
A visualisation of the paving and road materials to be used in the transformation of Cross Church Street. Licence has been taken in the depiction of buildings.
A pavement is the skin of a town and an expression of its evolution. For such a shallow surface, it can say much about the values of those who provide and use it.
Pavements as we recognise them began to appear in smart squares in Georgian London, affording an alternative to the filth and squalor of the roadway. Voltaire, visiting in the 1720s, saw them as a method of democratising the city.
In 1765 the Westminster Paving Act required streets be equipped with pavements, drainage and lighting. Soon shops began their linear spread, transforming simple thoroughfares into precursors of the modern streetscape.
In parts of Huddersfield the evolution continues with significant public realm investment as part of the £250million, 10-year masterplan to transform the town centre. In Half Moon Street, worn and cracked flags pocked with asphalt repairs are being replaced by new Yorkstone flags and kerbs. The result looks crisp, strong and safe.
In St George’s Street – the link between St George’s Square and Westgate – the Yorkstone flags used to create a wider pavement are edged with granite kerbs from Portugal. New grey, granite setts form the roadway in this conservation zone while old setts, uncovered during groundworks, are to be recycled elsewhere. Old stone flags from the foot of the street will replace broken ones on Kirkgate.
One aim behind these works is to reduce the palette of surface materials in the town. Simon Tidswell, Kirklees Council’s Principal Maintenance Engineer, explains that the finishes have been designated Gold, Silver or Bronze according to the architectural importance of each street.
So, for example, Gold-rated Dundas Street will be provided with Yorkstone flags, granite kerbs, parking lay-bys in granite setts, silver birches and a new tarmac road surface. Silver-rated Upperhead Row will have granite flags and kerbs and Bronze areas will be flagged in a composite material.
Cross Church Street, due to be closed this year from Queen Street South to Kirkgate to all except delivery vehicles, will become a tree-lined cycle route. A planting system will be employed to prevent root damage to this Gold-rated thoroughfare.
A Yorkshire firm, Marshalls of Halifax, is the source of much of the stone, though some granite is being imported from Vietnam. The council says it was chosen for aesthetics and quality and, where suitable, checks are in place to make sure that modern slavery practices are not employed in the suppliers’ quarries.
David Wyles, HCS chairman writes: "The work on St George's Street will hopefully prevent vehicular/pedestrian conflict and improve access to and from the station for cyclists. It is also a positive step (literally) in linking bus and rail stations for pedestrians.
"My only quibble is the granite kerbs. Whilst I think the treatment of Half Moon Street and adjacent streets looks first class I would have preferred local sandstone for the kerbs on St George's Street as is predominant in other key streets within the Conservation Area, especially in the 'new town' area.
Because of the street closure I was forced to walk through Temple Close (back of Bramleys and other businesses and flats). The filth and litter here (including food waste) was appalling, something usually associated with to the poorest of urban areas in the third world. It is not only a visual disgrace but, I imagine, a considerable health hazard."