CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
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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