CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
CIVIC SOCIETY NEWS
The society is backing Kirklees Council in its bid for a share of the Government’s new £675 million Future High Streets fund.
The fund aims to help local leaders transform town centres by consolidating high street properties, improving transport and access and converting retail units into new homes.
The council says that it is looking to secure £25m to create 'a vibrant cultural quarter'. Proposals include a museum, a 'significantly enhanced' library and art gallery, and a new live music venue.
In a letter to Karl Battersby, Kirklees Strategic Director, Economy and Infrastructure, HCS chairman David Wyles says:
"We would entirely support your bid at a time when critical actions and partnership working are emerging to facilitate much needed investment in restoring confidence and vitality in our town centre."
"Besides being the major town in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, Huddersfield is distinguished in a number of ways that highlight the critical importance of support:
"It has one of the highest number of listed buildings in the country – higher than many better known ‘historic’ cities, but the Town Centre Conservation Area was included on on Historic England's Heritage at-Risk Register in 2018. Vacancies, both on ground and upper floors have increased dramatically as has the loss of commercial businesses to out-of-town locations.
"It has a distinguished cultural life including the Contemporary Music Festival, choral society, literary festival etc, but constraints have severely limited (and prevented) the opportunity to pursue joint ambitions for a focus for various cultural and social activities.
"It has a population catchment in retail terms of over 350,000 but is more vulnerable than many towns because of the close proximity to large, out-of -town centres including Meadowhall and Trafford centres.
"The university has grown in stature and provides huge opportunities of mutual benefit, curtailed to an extent by negative perceptions of the town.
"Beyond the above and more we, as you know, are keen to work as a ‘critical friend’ with your teams and have already applauded involvement in work to develop the masterplan, design framework and shopfront improvements.
"We in parallel will provide support and positive messages through our web site and initiatives such as our annual design awards, themed workshops, Discover Huddersfield trails and walks programme etc.
"I hope this provides some indication of why investment is currently so critical and once secured can begin to attract match funding for regeneration from the private sector. "
Victoria Tower, Castle Hill picture by Vinny Tyrell
Comments may be made at the end of a story