CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
The Society is supportive of the approach, vision and ambition incorporated in the Huddersfield Town Centre Blueprint Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
The types of change, areas of focus and sites identified for re-purposing represent a cogent strategy, with an appropriate mix of deliverable and aspirational elements, to give focus and direction for the town centre for the next 10 years.
By Chas Ball
HCS has submitted counter proposals to the Leeds Road (A62) Smart Corridor consultation on Phase 1 from Huddersfield Railway Station to Fieldhouse Lane.
The Society's response says that the proposed route does not provide a continuously safe cycle despite the Council’s proposal to “upgrade the existing cycle provision to include separate cycle ways and on-road cycle lanes”.
In its evidence, HCS says that the scheme fails to achieve the aim of encouraging more cycling because “it is severely compromised by designing cycling to take place in close proximity to heavy traffic.
By David Wyles
I start by thanking colleagues on the committee and our members for their contribution to the many and various events we organised over the year. The range of work, from speaker events to the town centre clean up, from environmental workshops to participation in partnerships such as Discover Huddersfield, has demonstrated that HCS is a strong and influential ‘voice’ for the town.
Sadly, one of HCS’s leading members, former President Richard Ward, who had been instrumental in driving, guiding and initiating many elements of our work over many years, passed away in September 2019.
HCS members are invited to a seminar next month at Leeds University: 'Traffic Removal in Leeds: Reshaping the City for People'.
The event is organised by the Traffic Removal UK network, the Institute for Transport Studies at University of Leeds and Act TravelWise.
Speakers include expert practitioners who are leading initiatives to reclaim space from motor vehicles. Some of these efforts are under development in the city centre and in new residential neighbourhoods.
The Changing Face of Birkby was due to be the first guided walk in the new season arranged by Discover Huddersfield.
However, given the worsening situation with Coronavirus and the age of many of our support team and walkers, we feel we must cancel this and the next three walks of the season.
A pop-up climate emergency hub is being run for six days from March 9 in a vacant shop in The Piazza, opposite Huddersfield Library.
It is being organised for Kirklees Culture Declares Emergency, part of a global movement.
People are invited to 'look, listen think and do in a week of activities'. They include pop-up art, books, music and video installations, craft demonstrations, poetry, upcycle fashion and public discussions.
Further details may be found on the Creative Kirklees website.
Our March 3 meeting will take the form of a lecture by the influential architect Alex Whitbread at the University of Huddersfield's Charles Sikes Building.
Alex, above, is a Partner at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, a national architectural and urban design practice which has considerable experience in designing for education, housing, masterplanning and urban design as well as places for art and the creative reuse of historic buildings.
The greening of a town can come about in surprising ways – perhaps none more so that in the video above.
A wet and windy February day may be apt time to remind ourselves of the sunny grand finale of the 2014 Yorkshire Festival that celebrated the Tour de France's Grand Départ.
Overnight, St George’s Square was turned into a French rural idyll, complete with animals, flowers, fruit and vegetables plots. And the reaction was overwhelmingly positive...
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.
Barbara Hepworth would have been amazed to see the huge glass-enclosed space and dramatic stairway on the new building which carries her name at the University of Huddersfield.
Over twenty members of the Civic Society – plus an unexpected bewigged member, pictured above – were privileged to enjoy a guided tour of the newly completed £30 million showcase building created for the students of the School of Art, Design, Architecture and Fashion.
Full story and pictures.
There was a competitive edge to our well-attended pre-Christmas social at the Head of Steam pub in St George's Square.
Our chairman David Wyles had compiled one of his celebrated quizzes and members broke into groups to test their knowledge of the town and its history.
Only one group managed 100 per cent – but others came close with answers to questions such as:
Confident you know all the correct answers? Take the test now!
BY DAVID GRIFFITHS
Huddersfield Corporation made history in October 1919 when it agreed to buy the 4300-plus acres of the Ramsden estate for £1.3 million.
The estate comprised nearly half the land within the Borough boundary and the whole of the town centre. The deal was struck via locally-born entrepreneur Sam Copley and finalised on September 29, 1920.
To mark the centenary, Alderman Clifford Stephenson’s classic account of events, The Ramsdens and their Estate in Huddersfield: the Town that bought itself has been republished on our website.
Stephenson, who chaired the Corporation’s estates committee, published his booklet in 1972. It follows the story of the Ramsdens in Huddersfield from their purchase of the manor in 1599 to the sale in 1920.
Its re-publication begins a year of activity by Kirklees Council, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Huddersfield University and local societies to mark the historic centenary. The main focus will be in September and October 2020, when events will include:
Cllr Robert Walker, Kirklees Council's Cabinet lead for Culture and Environment says: "Huddersfield may not be an ancient settlement but it has a fascinating history."
"We are graced by a strong community of local historians who do a great work in exploring and presenting this story. Huddersfield University has a vibrant history department and I am very pleased that students are involved in presenting the story of the momentous events 200 years ago that shaped or town’s future."
The story of Sam Copley and ‘the town that bought itself’ is already commemorated by an information panel in Huddersfield Town Hall and a blue plaque on Copley’s home at Berry Brow.
Concern has been expressed by the society over a planning application by Huddersfield Parish Church to create a small car park in St Peter's Gardens.
Parking for 14 vehicles is proposed on the north side of the building for clergy, volunteers, disabled drivers and those attending funerals.
The former Vicar, Simon Moor, said last year: 'We have lost our car park at the rear of The Parish Pump pub ... so we need to develop this area for car parking for our staff and to enable the day-today running of the church.'
Our reservations are given more fully on the planning page, but the essence is that the gardens provide an important green 'lung' and setting within the conservation area.
The Council's Blueprint for the town centre indicates that Kirklees will 'support the enhancement of the gardens ....and make the most of the green space'.
Using part of this space for parking, which would also require access on to a pedestrianised street, would appear contrary to this aim.
Here is a plan of the scheme by Architects One17.
A one-day conference on waste and resources in Kirklees, will start the debate on how we manage waste in the next few years and the implications for our local economy.
The issue of waste, litter and fly-tipping was addressed at a recent Civic Society Environment Workshop.
The low recycling rate in Kirklees, currently around 30%, was highlighted in the declaration of a climate emergency adopted by Kirklees Council in January 2019.
A waste neutral economy has potential to contribute to future employment opportunities and reduce the financial and environmental burdens of waste on the community and for corporate waste generators.
One session will focus on how community and voluntary sector initiatives that promote new approaches to waste and to recycling activities.
'These projects can be increasingly important as contributors to waste minimisation and re-use', said Kim Warren, waste projects co-ordinator for Environment Kirklees. 'We hope to see more support for the third sector in the future waste strategy in Kirklees.'
Our Waste – the Future? is being held on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield. The full programme can be downloaded at www.kwrnet.org.uk
The conference is organised by Environment Kirklees Ltd, a not for profit company, with the support of the SURGE, a research group at the University of Huddersfield Business School.
HCS Chairman, David Wyles recently provided support for children’s play facilities in the town centre, as part of a consultation carried out by Playful Anywhere on behalf of Kirklees Council’s Blueprint proposals.
The following is an extract of comments made on behalf of the Civic Society during a telephone interview:
Q. What is your understanding of play and playfulness?
DW: From a children’s point of view – under 10 / 12s – something that is safe, enjoyable and can be enjoyed by families coming to town. Our workshops have indicated that sometimes the facilities need to catch people’s attention. Something that makes them think ‘wow that was good! We came into town and discovered this was going on!’.
Q: What are the big issues around play in Huddersfield?
DW: The big issue is a lack of facilities in the town centre. People who have children or grandchildren are often persuaded to go to play centres, indoor or outdoor. They are safe, clean and well managed. These are the places that children say that they want to go, and that’s the critical thing about getting people into the town centre. It’s hard to drag children around somewhere they don’t want to be. So, if you create such a facility, children will say 'can you take us to …’.
Q: What are the barriers to providing a more playful town centre for everyone?
DW: ‘Playfulness’ for older people is more about experiences that they can be involved in like dance, games, art or music. There are thousands of themes, they don’t have to be big themed events or expensive, it just needs imagination and the chance to join in. It’s getting people actively involved in something.
Q: Are there any specific play sites that you feel are particularly in need of investment?
DW: One proposal in the Blueprint is about Queensgate Market becoming a centre for music and performance. Given the limitations of Council budgets for maintaining something like that, the Civic Society doubt that it’s viable but think that the market is potentially a fantastic space with potential to integrate indoor play and to extend into the piazza. It could be an indoor/ outdoor play facility run by a public private partnership space or by Kirklees Active Leisure. New Street, Macauley Street, St Peter’s Garden may all be possibilities, but given that Queensgate needs to be looked at – and current Blueprint proposals do not appear sustainable - with a revenue income, good food, a variety of stalls, a performance area and children’s play, it could be fantastic. Queensgate is an ideal place to integrate facilities and to link to the area around the library /art gallery. There could be semi-outdoor experiences to bring joy to young and old.
Q: Any other issues about playfulness in Huddersfield Town Centre that you think are important?
DW: HCS want to preserve the heritage of the town but we know we can only do that if its vibrancy is improved. We want to see things being done, they won’t always need to cost the Council a lot of money and we are keen to help attract private investment. It’s important to find ways to get things moving to give a visual signal that it’s worth coming to town and having a good time.
Picture by messy-monkeys.com
A proposal by Network Rail to upgrade a section of railway between Huddersfield and Westtown – about half a mile south-west of Dewsbury station – has won the support of Huddersfield Civic Society.
Network Rail says: 'The current layout of railway in this area means we can’t run more trains or faster trains than we currently do, and this section of the track can be a cause of delays.'
Its proposals include:
This is the response from HCS:
OVERALL VIEW: The Society is fully supportive of the overall scheme and sees it as a positive means of improving the reliability and time-keeping of long-distance and local train services through Huddersfield.
HUDDERSFIELD STATION: The Civic Society welcomes the points raised regarding preserving the heritage aspects of Grade 1 listed Huddersfield station and the need to use an additional access route to platforms to cope safely with increasing numbers of passengers.
However, we also note that the current severe constraints regarding vehicle access to Huddersfield station and, particularly, the extremely limited station car parking are not addressed in this exercise.
We note the contrast with, say, Leeds and Wakefield Westgate stations where modern multi-storey car parks and vastly improved road access have been built alongside new station entrances and facilities.
The Society supports Kirklees Council’s 2019 blueprint for 'An Enhanced Train Station'. This proposes a new station entrance on the far side of the tracks, ie adjacent to the new platform proposed in the Network Rail consultation.
The Council blueprint proposal gives easy vehicle access and provides adjacent large scale car parking without the need for vehicles to access the station, as currently, via the town centre and the only partially pedestrianised area in front of the current sole station entrance.
We would like this new station gateway to be part of the Network Rail scheme or, failing this, that the changes planned under the Network Rail scheme are made to be 100% compatible with the likely requirements of the Kirklees Council station gateway proposals.
OTHER MATTERS: The Civic Society asks that the various works proposed along the line east of Huddersfield station, such as 'the reconstruction of the Huddersfield Broad Canal structure' are carried out sympathetically so as to augment the current structures.
By David Wyles
Karl Battersby presented an update on the Huddersfield Blueprint document to 40 HCS members and guests. The talk coincided with the end of a three month public consultation period which has included detailed comments made by HCS.
Karl, Kirklees Council's Strategic Director, Economy and Infrastructure, outlined complementary work already initiated or imminent, including:
Following a summary of the Blueprint's key proposals, a range of pertinent issues and questions were raised.
These focused primarily on transport issues, the station and connections to the warehouse and adjacent land and aspirations relating to the Council's purchase of the Piazza and viability of some of the proposals.
Some felt that the Blueprint proposals were being taken too literally by the public,
Accepting the fine balance between keeping traffic flowing around the ring road whilst improving pedestrian movements across Queensgate, there was concern about weaknesses in the cycle network although support for Cloth Hall Street proposals.
Equal emphasis was placed on the need to retain multi-storey parking at Alfred Street while recognising structural issues with the existing car park.
Questions relating to the future of the servicing area beneath the Piazza clearly have to be resolved, while some felt that while the need to demolish the 'Berlin Wall' and connect the Cultural Quarter through landscaping, the use of the service area and its potential for parking should be considered.
The viability and ongoing costs relating to the Music Venue were questioned although integration of commercial food outlets and children's play facilities in a more informal re-purposing of Queensgate Market were suggested.
Karl again emphasised the critical inks between St. George's Square and railway warehouse and adjacent land and liaison with Network Rail regarding upgrading of the line.
The council had considered purchase of the George Hotel given its iconic status (the HCS committee has fully supported recent proposals but is wary of council purchasing, and managing such a building when the key to its viability is the link under the railway).
Images were also displayed of possible redevelopment of the Post Office Sorting Office site.
Finally, a question about town centre yards reflected concerns/ opportunities raised by HCS committee and raised with Karl and his team, particularly in relation to Imperial Arcade and surrounding buildings and land much of which is vacant or derelict.
Action needs to be taken to bring owners together to seek the regeneration of this area for mixed use, including residential accommodation.
HCS President, Bernard Ainsworth, thanked Karl for his update and willingness to work closely with the society.
A guided trail around Birkby, outlining a rich and varied history dating from medieval times to the present day, has been produced by the Discover Huddersfield partnership.
It features a range of important buildings from the 16th century Bay Hall to St John’s Church, designed by one of England’s most celebrated architects, William Butterfield.
The trail, which also takes in sites associated with some of Huddersfield’s most celebrated industries including Hopkinsons and Ben Shaws, explores how Birkby grew from a small hamlet to a thriving suburb with all the amenities of a small town.
Written by Kirklees library staff and local residents, Lorna Brooks and Frank Grombir, the trail is one of 16 available free of charge from local information points and libraries, produced by the partnership.
A guided walk, based on the trail and lasting 1.5 – 2 hours, is scheduled to start from St John’s Church at 2.30pm on Sunday, October 27 with a charge of £3 per person. No booking is required.
Details of other trails and the 2019 programme of Discover Huddersfield walks can be obtained here. Please click below to see the Birkby trail.
Playful Anywhere, a Leeds-based social enterprise, has been commissioned by Kirklees Council to carry out a community engagement programme called Playful Huddersfield.
Kirklees would like to find out your views on what would make Huddersfield Town Centre a more playful place for young and old alike.
This information will help shape regeneration and will support Kirklees Council’s £250million Huddersfield Blueprint regeneration vision.
The Playful Anywhere Playbox will be in the town centre in New Street from 11am - 4pm on September 21 - 24 and 28.
Huddersfield Civic Society has been keen to promote better facilities for children within the town centre as a means of extending dwell time, increase spending and improve vitality.
You can share your views with Kirklees/Playful Anywhere by completing this short online survey.
Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance at Leeds University, drew a large audience for his address on the future of travel in Kirklees at our September meeting.
Rather than focussing on autonomous vehicles or flying cars, he drew attention to the important changes in society which have reduced the amount that people are travelling.
A full report may be found here.
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
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