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.