An important role of the Society is to consider new planning applications. Kirklees Council consults us on major applications which cover the Huddersfield area.
Key changes often result from the Society’s comments and its efforts in preventing development which is felt to have a negative impact on the area’s heritage and environmental quality. Anyone can view and comment on planning applications via the Kirklees Council website. If you see any you think we should know about, please contact us in addition to sending your views to Kirklees Council.
Daisy Lea Lane in Lindley. Photo from Google Street View.
Application 2020/94184 Erection of car port, Stonecroft, Daisy Lea Lane, Lindley
Although the design of the car port appears reasonable the society has major concerns regarding the position and size of the development in the grounds of a dwelling that has already undergone various extensions.
To reiterate the society's comments submitted regarding 4 Kaffir Road - 'Critically, consideration must be given as to whether this scale of development and reduction of green space will set a precedent, encouraging similar schemes, resulting in the erosion of the very special qualities of the Edgerton area.'
What seems to be happening in Edgerton, particularly, is a slow attrition of some of the key qualities that form the basis for the Conservation Area designation. Kaffir Road, Ramsdens development on Halifax Road, the A629 'improvements' and several other schemes are adding to this gradual erosion of its intrinsic qualities, contrary to the wording within the CA Appraisal that emphasises the need to retain architectural and landscape characteristics.
The issue is exacerbated in this instance by tree and shrub surgery and removal. The wooded aspect of the area is a critical to the overall value of the Conservation Area designation. It is noted that, as a result of previous work, trees within the curtilage of this property have been removed and not replaced. The current proposal adds to the denudation of this asset. HCS would recommend that should the LPA be minded to approve this application, a full investigation is carried out to prevent damage to mature trees with the submission of a replanting scheme.
Planning application 2018/92647 Revised Proposals (Mixed Use Development), Former Kirklees College, New North Road, Huddersfield
Huddersfield Civic Society welcomes the retention and conversion of those buildings marked Buildings 1,2 and 3 on the submitted plans. It also echoes those concerns, articulated in the Society’s original comments, concerning the proposed residential block (Building 5) but notes the applicant states, ‘this drawing shows an indicative design only. Detailed planning permission is not sought for this building’.
Should a detailed application on this part of the site be submitted it is essential that attention is paid to the relationship with buildings within the adjacent Conservation Area and particularly those along Portland Street. It may be appropriate for a planning condition to this effect to be incorporated into any approval granted on this initial phase of the site development.
However, the Society wishes to state its strong objection to the elevational details of the proposed supermarket and related car parking. This occupies one of the most prominent sites within Huddersfield, adjacent to Castlegate (ring road) and Trinity Street, the latter providing the main access to and from the M62 motorway.
Over the past few years there have been a number of high quality developments fronting the ring road, including those on the university campus and Huddersfield Sports Centre which have complemented buildings of architectural and historic value such as St Paul’s Church and Queensgate Market.
Those buildings on the former Kirklees College site, which were constructed in the 1960/70 period, have, generally, been considered to be of poor architectural quality, particularly in relation to the former Infirmary, adjacent Conservation Area and the prominence of the site. The proposed supermarket would appear to achieve even lower standards of design, particularly in relation to these features.
It would, therefore, be a retrograde step for approval to be given to this element of the proposal, and contrary to objectives of the Council in promoting good design, on a site which leads to the Station Gateway, where a fundamental ambition within the Council’s Blueprint is to enhance the heritage and commercial attractions of the town. Furthermore, this element of the application should, at the very least, undergo some major design revisions coupled with a far greater focus on materials, elevational detail, built form and landscaping, incorporating greenspace with tree planting.
Finally, the Society views the introduction of the proposed supermarket, into an existing application, to be wholly inappropriate given no such element was included in the original application. There is little clarity regarding the ‘revisions’ and major conflicts between the (still undecided) Aug 2018 application on the council website and statements in latter documents.
By accepting this change as a ‘revision’ to an existing application, the opportunity for members of the public to submit comments has been significantly curtailed from the time frame allowed in the event of a new application. As such, we strongly recommend this application be rejected and the applicant asked to resubmit a new application to ensure residents of Huddersfield are allowed the opportunity to express their views. As it stands any approval would be a retrograde step for the town and severely question the Council’s commitment to its own BluePrint and its ability to positively promote high standards of architecture and design.
Planning application 2020/92657 Erection of teaching block, King James's School, Almondbury
The society echoes the major concerns articulated in the objections embodied in neighbourhood representations concerning the critical issues resulting from the increased numbers of pupils in relation to the traffic issues, pollution, pedestrian safety and community disruption caused by this proposal.
Documents prepared by the agents around sustainability and travel are inadequate. For example, virtually all the approach roads are narrow and busy so there is significant risk to cyclists. The presentation of the school bus access and departure is accurate but under states the issues.
The access to the drop off involves 2 very sharp 90 degree bends in close succession at a busy junction where the buses block traffic in both directions. When leaving the site they have to negotiate a blind 90 degree bend over a bridge at the bottom of Farnley line.
Such issues, in themselves, prompt the question as to whether King James is the right/or an acceptable location for the newly created 'combined’ school?
Beyond such issues, the proposed teaching block itself is disappointingly pedestrian in design and related matters. Although the school is based in a set of buildings which are a mix of modern and traditional it is an historic site containing listed structures. In addition, given the location of the building it is considered that more thought should be given to raise this design above the mundane and use materials complementary to the environment of, not only the school, but Almondbury Conservation Area and the outstanding surrounding countryside.
Huddersfield Civic Society presented Greenhead College with the award of overall winner in its annual Design Awards in 2018 recognising the high standards of design and sustainability incorporated into a new teaching block. As applicants for the King James proposal, Kirklees Council should endeavour to achieve similar high standards in relation to elevational details, materials and carbon reduction measures. This current application fails on all counts.
Outline planning application 2020/92546 New settlement at Crosland Hill on the edge of Huddersfield
In this objection, Huddersfield Civic Society raises 10 key points, which we believe are important for the successful delivery of this development scheme. These are:
Holding the developer to the commitments in the OPP
Community facilities on the edge of town
Wider impacts of increased traffic
Sustainable housing design, energy and home working
Affordable Housing commitments
Biodiversity and trees
This OPA is a rework of the rejected 2019 application, which claims to address a number of objections last time round. However, several of the applicant’s documents still describe the position around 2017. One key issue HCS wishes to raise is about the effectiveness of the master plan prepared for this site and the ability of Kirklees Council to ensure the community facilities and the affordable housing remain intact throughout the process from Outline Planning approval to delivery. It is important that commitments made by the applicant in the application are locked into the completion of the development by any and all developers and during all phases. This is imperative in light of the difficulties likely to be encountered with site remediation, and a strong possibility that the scheme will be delivered by more than one developer, as occurred in Lindley Moor. The full text of the society's objection may be read by clicking on the link below.
Planning Application 2019/93789 St Peter’s Parish Church – Amended Proposals The society reiterates its concerns submitted at the time of the initial application and strongly objects to the car parking proposals. Approval of this application is entirely inconsistent with the Blueprint vision for St Peter’s Gardens and now the SPD has been approved as a tool for implementation of the Blueprint’s objectives, this application fundamentally contradicts a key element of the document.
The artist's impression shows no cars or vehicles, merely open space, broad pedestrian routes and restricted vehicle access. The claimed objective in approving the SPD was to avoid this kind of conflict or at least provide a rationale for refusal of inconsistent development.
We strongly object with the concept of increasing car access and parking provision in this part of the town centre. We understand the aim of the Council is to limit access by car and certainly not to encourage it. There should certainly be no provision for parking within the town centre’s primary green space. The SPD (p.19 Vision, Item 3) refers to wanting the town centre to become ‘a quality environment with fewer vehicles’.
We note that in June 2020 Kirklees Council proposed the closure of Byram Street to vehicles. This alone should negate any request for new car parking to be accessed from Byram Street
We express disappointment that the supplied Heritage Assessment does not mention the proposed deterioration in the setting of the church by introducing a car park into the view of the church across its green space.
We note the comments from Kirklees Highways that state, there is currently a traffic regulation order (TRO) on this section of Byram Street that prevents all motor vehicles (except those authorised) from accessing at any time, except for loading between 4pm and 10am the next day. In this instance authorised vehicles would be the likes of recognisable service vehicles such as refuse wagons, emergency service vehicles, funeral cars etc. It is not a permit scheme where those associated with the church could apply for an exemption for their private motor vehicles.
Declarations of climate emergency stand for nothing if subsequent planning decisions ignore them. There is an urgent need across all settlements to reallocate space dedicated to private vehicles, and specifically not to increase that space.
We disagree with several statements in the supporting document submitted by the former vicar of Huddersfield, Canon Simon Moor, including:
The Church, if to stay viable, is required to meet the standards of a twenty first century venue.’
‘The North side of the Church together with St Peter’s Gardens is currently a poor quality amenity, both visually and usage. It represents for many a ‘no go area. Parking would be part of the future vision’. The society asks, when was the provision of parking ever an effective means of improving an area of green space? It would certainly be amazed if a car parking area became what the Rev. Canon asserts would become the ‘place to be’.
That additional visitor attraction ’aspirations cannot be achieved without dedicated parking’.
That ‘Attendance at worship can only be achieved on Sundays with the use of cars’.
That the car parking area’s ‘hardstanding would also help preserve this grade 2 * listed building as the civic church of Huddersfield’.
Planning application 2020/91989 Erection of single storey extension with canopy and security roller shutters (within a Conservation Area), 98a Halifax Old Road, Birkby. The society has some concerns regarding this application although it considers it an improvement when compared to the scruffy and poorly designed frontages of many premises within the main shopping area just 200 metres away.
The property appears to be in good condition, albeit the shop units are nondescript, and vehicles parked on the large corner paving area present an ugly view, especially against the backdrop of the imposing mosque conversion opposite.
The applicant is proposing something that appears of higher quality than other shop fronts in the vicinity. The large paving area here currently used for parking would be replaced by semi-outdoor shopping under a fixed structure. There are no awnings currently on any of the nearby premises on Halifax Old Road and this would, obviously, set a precedent.
However, some aspects of the proposal would appear acceptable in this instance. The willingness to invest in improvements may encourage new life and improvements along Halifax Old Road, complementing the excellent mosque building. And a restart to better use of outdoor shopping space could help encourage social distancing in a new Covid world.
The main concern relates to the use of roller shutters which are both aesthetically and, in a predominantly residential area, an unwelcoming feature. This issue should be addressed and suitable amendments made.
A further issue requires addressing: car parking. Although this part of Halifax Old Road is not as heavily congested (mosque activity times apart) as is the current centre of Birkby, it is fairly congested with this application aiming to increase trade while removing existing car parking spaces, albeit spaces accessed by crossing the current pavement at the road junction. The Council needs a parking strategy for local centres such as Birkby to tackle increasing congestion and safety issues.
It is suggested that Birkby would benefit from a Conservation Area Assessment in order to tackle the issues outlined and encourage improvements, which this proposal, though flawed, is attempting to implement.
Planning application 2020/91720/91721 Change of use from dwelling to residential unit, 11 Wentworth Street, Huddersfield
We consider the details and plans relating to this proposal to be wholly unacceptable and wonder why the submitted application was processed in its present form.
As these applications relate to a building of architectural and historic importance, the applicant should be asked to resubmit with a comprehensive, understandable set of documents and measured plans detailing elements to be changed or inserted into the present structure.
It is also requested that the applicant resubmits the application forms in order that all answers correlate to information in the accompanying documents. Additionally, it is noted that the attachment, entitled ‘Heritage Statement’, is not an adequate heritage assessment. The applicant should be requested to submit an assessment that indicates how proposed changes will affect the fabric of the listed building.
However, beyond the issues identified above, there is concern that in converting a dwelling house into what, in essence, will become three residential units with up to three members of staff present, is an over-intensification of use in what is essentially an area of individual houses. Such use will inevitably result in related issues regarding parking, waste collection etc. In conclusion, the application should be refused.
Planning application 2020/92024 Demolition of supermarket, erection of block of six flats, 19, Northgate, Almondbury
While there is no doubt that the existing supermarket building is a negative element within the townscape of this important and historic conservation area, the proposal to replace it with a block of six flats can only be classed as mediocre.
It is accepted that the site layout constrains redevelopment proposals but equally the scheme pays little attention to the architectural and historic form of the Northgate area. In order to provide adequate parking for the number of flats proposed, the whole frontage is to be laid out as a hard-standing area. This appears contrary to the values that should be achieved within conservation areas in general.
There is, in addition, meagre detailing with regards stonework and related materials and it is considered that any development should be in coursed York stone to all elevations, not simply on the front elevation. In summary, although it could be argued that the proposal is better than what currently exists, the result is disappointing and could be rectified by reducing the number of units with layout and elevational amendments that include reduced parking requirements.
Planning application 2020/91574/91575 Conversion of mill building to create wellness centre, Brooke's Mill, Armitage Bridge
The society applauds work carried out over the past few years to introduce new uses into the former textile mill. It fully supports this application which will further enhance the business, cultural and recreational mix that has been gradually created, ensuring the retention of a key building within a complex that remains both historically and architecturally important within the region.
The aim to achieve zero carbon and to increase biodiversity are also welcomed and do not compromise the integrity of the whole. Finally, the society recognises the fine commercial balance in achieving a viable proposal in a building that has stood vacant for many years and supports the comments made in the design and access statement.
Planning Application 2020/91591 Erection of extensions, demolition and refurbishment of vacant care home and coach house to create care facility, external and internal alterations and erection of activities cabin within a Conservation Area,34 Greenhead Road, Huddersfield
The society generally supports this application which should improve a building and grounds which appear to have deteriorated whilst empty. The new car parking spaces can be accommodated within the grounds with significant shielding by remaining trees and features, such as changes proposed to the single-storey structures and the provision of staff cycle storage – are positive improvements.
The one concern is the replacement of the current external fire staircase from the second floor to ground level. The existing structure looks to be a standard open metallic staircase and is visible as a protrusion to the side of the house from Greenhead Road, Park Road South and from part of the war memorial area of Greenhead Park. It would be more visible from the war memorial area in winter when the park trees are not in leaf.
The proposed structure is described as a 'new external steel staircase to replace existing stair, enclosed with perforated metal sheets to detail.' There appears to be little detail in the plans, regarding the materials, colour, reflective state etc. and it is suggested that consideration be given to a structure more sympathetic to the style of the property which is within a conservation area and is visible from Greenhead Park.
Incidentally, Longdenholme, as it was originally called, was built for Joseph Woodhead, founder and proprietor of the Examiner, and designed by Ben Stocks (plans submitted July 1879).
Planning Application 2020/91253 Detached office building with rooms in roof space and reformation of car parking, Oakley House, 1 Hungerford Road, Edgerton
Although this is a revision of plans submitted in 2017, the last of which was approved, HCS has serious concerns regarding this development particularly in respect of the density and area allocated for parking and the impact on the mature trees, which form a critical feature within the conservation area and are important visually and environmentally along the Halifax Road corridor.
Again, HCS directs attention to the Council’s own appraisal of Edgerton CA which states: 'The character of the area is partly established by the pattern of past development, which generally consists of substantial houses in large plots. Previously, substantial infilling has been permitted but this has damaged the character of the Conservation Area because of the increased density of built form, loss of trees and breaching of boundary walls. It is therefore recommended that in future new development within the designated area should be kept to a minimum and the following policy is included in the LDF.’
‘Policy: The Council will resist proposals that would result in the over development of plots and loss of gardens to the detriment of the character of the conservation area.’
It is also noted that if the policy was included in the LDF this would have been after the earlier planning applications had been submitted, and any decision regarding this application should consider the implications of over development and loss of green space.
As with the recent application for major extensions at 4 Kaffir Road, this proposal creates a worrying precedent with car parking pushed close to the trees, increasing the danger of root damage. Should removal of trees then be required, creating a much more open aspect to Halifax and Hungerford Road, this would be contrary to the policy for protection of green space and mature trees.
In addition, the planning authority must consider this in context to other large properties now adapted for office use, rather than the residential use for which they were designed. The erosion of Edgerton’s unique character could be dramatically affected if similar schemes were put forward for consideration. Approval of this development would make other applications difficult to refuse.
If the LPA is minded to approve this application it is requested that all issues covered by the aboricultural report be followed to the letter and that the applicant commits to a monitoring and reporting regime on the trees, with substantive restitution in the event of tree loss, perhaps as a S106 condition?
Please note: it appears the 2020 tree survey and tree removal requests are as written in 2017, but it looks as if the various trees approved for removal in 2017 have in fact been felled – indeed, very recently – and the replacement areas left unkempt with sycamores and laurels now growing
The society’s comments focus on the above issues rather than the new building which it considers to be well designed.
Planning application 2020/91013 Two detached dwellings, adjacent to 27 Woodthorpe Terrace, Longroyd Bridge The site is adjacent to a building of both architectural and historic importance, Spring Lodge. It was awarded the 'Best Refurbishment' project in the HCS Design Awards 2015. The society has no objections to this proposal as long as there is no deviation from the proposed use of coursed Yorkshire stone and appropriate roofing materials in the construction of the dwellings.
Planning application 2020/91268 & 2020/91269 Change of use & listed building consent alterations to create six flats, 69-71 New Street, Huddersfield
The society believes that any internal features relating to the architectural significance of this building should be retained. We have some concerns regarding the process by which the local planning authority can determine this application given the lack of any strategy for the development of residential accommodation with the town centre.
Given the likelihood of an increasing numbers of vacant premises and upper floors, how will the Council determine the balance of varying needs and opportunities for a variety of tenures, age groups and needs? This site fronts New Street which will be subject to comprehensive refurbishment with the Council's Blueprint programme. Should similar applications be received on this street what are the strategic means of dealing with housing applications as well as the practical issues such as waste disposal and collection?
The society is concerned over the scale of the proposed extensions within a Conservation Area, as they appear to almost double the size of the existing footprint with expansion in three directions and a proportionally even greater increase in upstairs room space.
The existing house appears to have been built in 1983 and is considered to have a ‘neutral’ impact on the Conservation Area. It sits within extensive grounds with numerous mature trees on all sides. Edgerton Conservation Area designation was predicated on the pattern of substantial C19th houses set in large plots. It has been recognised that infilling has damaged the character of the area and that ‘the Council should resist proposals that would result in the over-development of plots and loss of gardens to the detriment of the Conservation Area’.
In addition, whilst it appears that the plot may look large on paper, over 50% of this is in a massive ravine that can be seen from the roadside of the main Halifax road. Not only should the impact of the proposed extensions be fully considered but, in addition, the plans do not show how cars would get from the existing drive across the grass to the proposed triple garage.
This implies further development and reduction of green space within the grounds of the house and possible requirement to fell mature trees. This should be subject to conditions for the management and replacement of any trees affected with suitable species. No trees flanking the historic driveway from Kaffir Road should be removed and access must be from the existing driveway.
The use of matching external materials ie stone and slate must be ensured. The appearance of the proposed extensions appears to be dictated by the internal layout and, unfortunately, this makes little aesthetic contribution to the mass and form of key buildings within the area. It is also recommended that there should be no windows in the side elevation in or above the existing garage as they reduce the privacy of neighbouring property.
Critically, consideration must be given as to whether this scale of development and reduction of green space will set a precedent, encouraging similar schemes, resulting in the erosion of the very special qualities of the Edgerton area, that have been recognised both locally, nationally and internationally.
Planning Applications 2020/90930 & 90931 Alterations to former works to create 10 residential units (Listed Building within Conservation Area) The society has no objection to the proposal, subject to retention of any internal features contemporary with the building's original purpose. Any future signage on the Bath Street frontage should be strictly limited and designed so as not to detract from the architectural/historic integrity of the building.
It is to be hoped that the residential units will be available to other than students as it is felt that the latter market is saturated and would have limited benefits in the regeneration and economic vitality of the area around St. George's Square. The society supports the idea of a blue plaque to commemorate the Hall of Science and its historic associations. The plaque is being considered by Huddersfield Local History Society.
Planning application 2020/90757 Outline Application for Erection of Three Sculptural Features, New Street, Huddersfield
Huddersfield Civic Society considers this application to be unacceptable and recommends that it be withdrawn.
The society recognises that improvements along this section of New Street are proposed in the Town Centre Blueprint and has broadly supported an initiative which would upgrade and replace dated and anachronistic street furniture, paving and other poorly maintained features.
However, this application provides neither illustrations nor specific details of what these sculptures would look like, only that, and I quote, 'tall sculptural features designed to allow planting to go over and through ....The sculptures are yet to be designed .....The structures will be metal in construction with an open structure to give a feeling of lightness.'
This is unacceptable. The application has not been placed in context with an overall plan for New Street, so there is no clue as to how it will fit in with other elements of the street's enhancement. It is purely a concept without any rationale in relation to how the street will function, be maintained or complement adjacent buildings, including the setting of 14 listed buildings.
The Heritage Impact Assessment states,’ They will not have any physical impact on the listed buildings and will only have a positive visual impact within the conservation area streetscape.’ These are made-made structures up to 12 metres in height so without any designs having been prepared how can anyone assess whether these structures will be acceptable or not?
This application should not and cannot be considered in isolation to the whole.
This application is, therefore, premature and should be withdrawn and only re-submitted when designs, not only for the sculptures but for the comprehensive enhancement of New Street are prepared and publicised.
Castle Hill proposal not justified and must be rejected
Planning application No. 2018/93591 – Castle Hill Restaurant with Rooms & Event Venue Comments made on behalf of Huddersfield Civic Society.
As a society, focused on the maintenance and improvement of civic pride and the protection of historic structures important to the people of Huddersfield, we strongly believe that the debates about developments at the top of Castle Hill have gone on far too long.
Without doubt, Victoria Tower atop the Scheduled Iron Age Hillfort (known as Castle Hill) holds a very special place in the hearts of Huddersfield residents. It is a symbol of our heritage and a well-loved spot to visit and take in the surrounding views and reflect. It is also a destination of choice for visitors wishing to sample our heritage and rural landscape. Tourism and visitor facilities should be focused on Huddersfield Town Centre (as proposed in the Blueprint) or district centres, such as Almondbury and Honley, which already provide a range of pubs, restaurant and small hotels, support the wider business community, and have suitable provision for access by sustainable public transport.
With this in mind, we believe it incumbent upon us to scrutinise with care any proposals which affect this valued historic location. In this regard, we detail below our understanding of planning policy relevant to what is recognised as new build development, in the Green Belt, within the curtilage of the listed Victoria Tower, physically built into key features of the Scheduled Motte and Bailey Iron Age Hillfort.
Our conclusion, supported by the analysis below, is that the current proposal (together with its prior iterations) constitutes inappropriate development in accordance with NPPF13 para 145 and is not justified under the claimed ‘very special circumstances’ of NPPF13 para 145 (b) on the basis that the ‘inappropriate development and other harm’ is not clearly outweighed by the claimed benefits as required by NPPF13 para 144.
Analysis of Planning Policy LP56 New Build in Green Belt incorporates into the Kirklees Local Plan, the very narrow circumstances, defined by National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF13”) within which development can be undertaken in the Green Belt. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy being to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belt land being its openness and permanence. Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities are tasked with positively enhancing their beneficial use, which includes looking for opportunities to:
Provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation
Retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity or
Improve damaged and derelict land
Development Proposals Affecting Green Belt: The element of NPPF applicable to the proposed development is contained within Section 13 paragraphs 143- 145 and states:
143. Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances ('VSCs').
144. When considering any planning application, Kirklees planning authority should ensure substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. VSC’s will not exist unless potential harm to the Green Belt (by reason of inappropriateness or other harm) resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by claimed facilities provided within the development. Clearly the threshold required to outweigh harm is intended to be very high.
145. Kirklees planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt subject to consideration of the narrow exception claimed in this application: (b) the provision of appropriate facilities (in connection with the existing use of the land) for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation, cemeteries and burial grounds and allotments; as long as the facilities preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including the land (Castle Hill) within the Green Belt.
Appropriate Green Belt Facilities: As the principal objective of Green Belt policy is to maintain an open character by preventing development, it follows that any new building/parking area (associated with an appropriate Green Belt use) should be no more than is genuinely required to enable that use to be carried on. Reference to guidance and case law states that ‘appropriate facilities’ should:
Be genuinely required
Involve uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt
Not conflict with the purposes of including the land (Castle Hill) in the Green Belt.
Examples offered in the guidance include small changing rooms or unobtrusive spectator accommodation for outdoor sport, or small stables for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation. Each of these examples makes clear the construction envisaged is intended to be:
Directly (rather than indirectly) related to the outdoor activity
Limited in size, and
Dedicated to the provision of the facility (rather than containing an incidental element)
The development, for which approval is sought, represents: a 100 cover restaurant; bar; 6 bedrooms; and an 80sqm event facility; over 3 floors (2 sunken into the very heart of a scheduled Iron Age Hillfort) which is primarily: a commercial venture run for profit; not directly related to the outdoor activity; is not of limited size; and is not dedicated to the provision of the facility.
As such, the development:
Is not genuinely required – Current high visitor levels are achieved without the facility
Does not involve a use of land which preserves the openness of the Green Belt – Constructionrestricts openness and cannot be approved unless one of the VSC’s applies.
Conflicts with the purposes of including the land (Castle Hill) in the Green Belt – The purposebeing the preservation of an historic landscape, a listed monument and a Scheduled Iron AgeHillfort of local, regional and national importance
Is not directly related to the outdoor activity – The prime focus is provision of a commercial eventfacility
Is not limited in size, an is not dedicated to the provision of the facility (rather than containing an incidental element) – lessthan 20% of the facility is directly provided for this purpose and only that on a shared basis.
Claimed 'Very Special Circumstances': The supporting documentation acknowledges the application is subject to the VSCs test and claims that facilities including provision of interpretation and education space, as well as for more basic physical needs such as shelter, WC’s and refreshment could constitute those very special circumstances. Whilst this is theoretically correct there needs to be a far greater emphasis on such facilities other than shared restaurant and event facilities.
The application also claims putting the development at the top of the hill will provide a presence which will curb antisocial activity. Obviously, reduced vandalism and inappropriate behaviour can (in theory) form the basis of justification for any development in a remote location. However, this criterion does not feature in national policy for new build in the Green Belt. All this amounts to is a further public benefit which can, in certain circumstances, justify harm to a listed or schedule structure but is irrelevant in respect of inappropriate new build in the Green Belt.
Provision of recreational amenities: The proposed layout comprises 6 bedrooms, a restaurant plus supporting bar and is primarily aimed at a closed group of guests being restaurant drinkers and diners, overnight guests and private event-based functions. Whilst there is an element of the development, provided for general visitors to the site, this comprises access to a restaurant, bar and toilet facilities on a nonexclusive basis. The bulk of visitors to Castle Hill are families out for a walk, looking for snacks, drinks, information, and toilet facilities. Very few visitors to the site are looking for a sit-down meal, a party or a bed! This application is primarily seeking to deliver facilities to a group who would not attend the site other than to make use of this new build facility.
Provision of an educational recreational/interpretation facility: The applicant also highlights the provision of an event space, within the new build property, as justifying approval of the overall application. Whilst the facility does have an independent access, this will only be available for specific educational events on a pre-booked basis. At other times this will be available to further the primary hospitality function of the proposed building. A cursory review of the application makes clear the concept is a multi-purpose room (with associated toilets), occupying around 15% of the overall building, to be made available for the education of groups of children and the general public (on a pre-booked basis) between the hours of 10:00 and 16:00. The application is silent on any charges.
Provision of Toilet facilities: Well over 100,000 people currently visit Castle Hill every year. The proposed development incorporates an unspecified toilet facility to be shared with guests of the restaurant, bar and event facility. Whilst such facilities are welcome (given there are presently none on the site) this is unlikely to be commensurate with likely demand and does not fulfil the necessary NPPF13 requirement
In Conclusion: Kirklees planning authority are required to ensure any claimed VSC clearly outweighs the inappropriateness of construction in the Green Belt and any related harm. As such, to reach a conclusion on whether a claimed VSC case can be accepted, any other harm introduced by the development has to be taken into account (as well as the inappropriateness of the new build) and the claimed VSC’s must clearly outweigh all these elements combined.
The introduction of the proposed new build development, into such a highly sensitive location of local, regional and national importance, must therefore be weighed against the claimed VSC’s. Many areas of harm have been identified and articulated in the comments of both statutory consultees and concerned members of the general public. In the interests of avoiding repetition, we have simply listed the key areas of harm (as we see them) in the attached appendix.
Case law has considered and established that developers are not entitled to attach inappropriate development to an otherwise appropriate development and, through such alchemy, render the entire development as appropriate. Indeed, to do so would, over the passage of time, be severely detrimental to the objectives of Green Belt policy.
From the above analysis, the application does not meet what is intended to be a stringent test and as such this application is in breach of LP56 and NPPF Section 13 paragraphs 143-145 and must be rejected. A failure to refuse this application risks establishing a national precedent opening Green Belt across the UK to a ‘death by a thousand cuts’.
Planning application 2019/62/93789/W and 2019/44/91146/W Location: Byram Street Description of development: Erection of porch entrance, fire escape enclosure, platform lift and formation of car park, Huddersfield Parish Church (Listed Building within a Conservation Area).
Huddersfield Civic Society applauds the work carried out by the church to restore its fabric and improve facilities. Indeed, the church and its architects, One17 AD, were the overall winners in the society's annual Design Awards in 2014.
However, although there has been a previous approval for the formation of car parking on the site, HCS would request further consideration of issues that make the car parking element of this application contrary to current policies and town centre strategies.
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 would appear contrary to this aim. HCS, therefore, objects to the provision of parking for the following reasons:
It is contrary to the recent KC town centre Blueprint and consultation for improvements to the town’s centre major green space.
The proposal flies in the face of the Council’s aim to promote the greening of the town centre and is contrary to the aim of improving environmental and air quality.
Vehicles parked between park and church constitute a serious degradation of the ‘setting’ of the Grade 2* church.
The aim should be to discourage further private parking areas within the town and not establish a precedent for others, e.g. The Methodist Mission, which has similar requirements.
Provision of vehicular access on to an attractive and well used pedestrianised street with the related removal of stone walls would potentially create pedestrian/vehicular conflict in relation to those vehicles entering and leaving the site.
HCS would like to see the Church and Kirklees find a solution that does not compromise the historic setting and green space. The planning application refers to church parking on Venn Street that was replaced in order to develop Kingsgate, but this was not adjacent to the church entrance, entailing a short walk. It is felt that both parties should investigate alternative options such as use of the Lord Street car park, formerly occupied by the YMCA.
The application also refers to the moving of a table tomb to enable the car park to be built. This tomb is, in fact, historically important, being the memorial of Joseph Kaye known as ' the builder of Huddersfield' who constructed many of the town's churches, railway station and its finest buildings, although, ironically, not the Parish Church where his body is laid.
Planning application 2019/91505 and 2019/91506 Location: St George's Square Description of development: The George Hotel.
Huddersfield Civic Society welcomes these applications to secure, restore and introduce some changes of use within one of Huddersfield's most notable buildings. The heritage statement supporting the application indicates comprehensive retention of historic/architecturally important features and HCS would emphasise the need to ensure protection of these elements during the period of building work.
HCS does not object to the external interventions proposed. Indeed, it considers that the entrance to John William Street could be extended to indicate access to part of the building for which will serve other uses, subject to suitable detailing and proportions.
HCS would support the display of historic material relating to the founding of Rugby League at the hotel (some of which was formerly housed within the hotel's RL Heritage Centre) with the agreement of the RFL, University of Huddersfield, which holds the Rugby League archives, and Kirklees Council, should future town centre cultural developments be implemented.
Finally, the success, viability and longevity of the development and its associated businesses will be greatly enhanced if Kirklees Council and its partners are able to secure a link between St George's Square and the Railway Warehouse and its adjoining land. The George (and other developments such as Estate Buildings), would benefit enormously from such an initiative being realised.
Planning application 2018/93591 Location: Castle Hill. Description of development: Hotel and restaurant.
Our objection: We consider this application to be unacceptable for the following reasons: It contradicts both local and national planning policies. Indeed, the proposal creates greater impacts than those indicated on previously refused applications for development of the site. Kirklees Council has itself recognised the importance in historic, archaeological and environmental terms for protecting the hill and its surroundings and support would seriously undermine the Council’s consistency of approach in determining such applications.
Wording within the draft Local Plan as well as the Castle Hill Setting Study produced by Kirklees Council in 2016, makes it clear that proposals which detrimentally effect Castle Hill and its undeveloped slopes and summit will not be allowed. To reverse such policies, especially given the footprint of the development exceeds previously refused proposals, is considered unacceptable. The fact that the current proposal indicates a contemporary design with use of non-traditional materials in no way mitigates from the above policies. Indeed, the visual impact of such a development would be greater and at odds with the surrounding built environment and totally alien to the setting.
The proposal flies in the face of green belt policy, the site’s designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the setting of the listed Victoria Tower. Castle Hill is, perhaps, the most iconic symbol of the area and the iron age hillfort is comparable to similar protected sites around the country, for example Maiden Castle in Dorset where any provision for visitors is off site. Development on the very top of the hill as proposed would be seen as an act of gross vandalism.
The applicant’s Planning Statement states (3.4), ‘Today visitors find no public conveniences, nowhere to obtain refreshments’. The Castle Hill Management Advisory Group’s aim to ensure ‘that Castle Hill remains a special place’ indicates that it is already a special place and has little need of a place to obtain refreshments or ancillary facilities. Equally bogus is the statement (3.7) that the ‘Council’s Business Team supported the proposals and expressed the view that from a tourism point of view this is a unique location and it is sensible to target both day and overnight visitors.’ There is clearly need for more and better tourist accommodation but this statement should not imply accommodation provision is necessary on this site. Furthermore, the proposed bedrooms are not significant in regard to Kirklees overall provision where demand is closely linked to locational factors.
Clearly such statements are misleading. Castle Hill is noted for its repeat visits, by both local people and tourists and there is no doubt that they come for its setting, peace and historic associations without the need for further facilities. It is as important to Kirklees as Stonehenge is to Wiltshire. Would anyone consider refreshment facilities and a hotel on the latter site?
One element of the Planning Statement that can be supported concerns the poor level of Council investment in maintaining the site. However, the assertion (4.4) that ‘The Council, with its severe funding constraints, is unlikely to make any meaningful contribution on its own’ does, in no way provide a rationale for accepting this current proposal. Kirklees Council would remain responsible for the lion’s share of the site and its maintenance.
The proposed access arrangements appear both unworkable and contrary to highway design guidelines. Since no quota on vehicles accessing the hilltop can be applied and large functions at the hotel could add substantially to the movement of vehicles up and down the hill, there appears to be no consideration should drivers encounter difficulties along this narrow twisting road, nor the question of access from or into Lumb Lane and its junction with the increasingly busy Ashes Lane.
Planning application 2018/92687 and 2018/92647 Location: Former site of Kirklees College, New North Road. Description of development: Mixed Use and listed building consent for alterations and demolition.
Our objections: While Huddersfield Civic Society accepts the uses proposed (mainly residential) for the site, the overall design raises some concerns. Critically, the proposals have a profound impact on the setting of the listed Infirmary building, which, as a Grade 2* building is considered of regional importance, the impact on houses on Portland Street and the adjacent Conservation Area, and the aspect of the new build from the ring road.
The uniformity and 'international' style (ie it could be anywhere) of the various blocks, and their mass, articulation and fenestration, particularly those adjacent to the Infirmary, fail to reflect the architectural quality of the listed building and the town’s distinctive architectural quality. There is no suggestion that the society seeks a Neo-Georgian pastiche, rather that the design shows greater understanding of its impact and setting in relation to its surroundings.
The proportion and relationship of 19th and early 20th century extensions to the Infirmary building demonstrate, in many ways, a greater understanding of the architectural qualities of the original building and make a significant contribution to the built environment of the area north of the ring road, particularly in relation to adjoining the Conservation Area and listed buildings extending northwards beyond the site.
While the society does not wish to argue for the retention of all these structures, it is felt that the wing designed by local architect, John Kirk in 1874 and the wing containing the water tower are distinctive and architecturally important features. Furthermore, they provide a greater level of distinctiveness and understanding of the aesthetics of the setting than do the proposed replacement blocks. Given these lie within the curtilage of the listed building, no approval for new buildings should be given until there is substantial and convincing evidence that these structures cannot be successfully restored and re-used.
In addition, there are concerns regarding the level of metal cladding rather than the use of stone, particularly in relation to buildings along Portland Street and the adjacent Conservation area, although the sandstone rain-screen cladding would be acceptable and could provide a level of patterning to create a modicum of distinctiveness and interest.
Finally, any permission should ensure that those buildings which are retained are converted and suitably restored as part of an agreed phased development and are not neglected should part(s) of the site be disposed of.
Planning application2017/94109 Location: Queensgate House, Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 2RR. Description of development: Change of use and extension of the existing office building to create 156 student bedrooms including a gym, cycle and refuse storage area, student 'hub' space, plant and services and associated landscaping.
Our objection: This confusing application is for an extension to an existing building when in fact it would involve its demolition and replacement with a larger structure clad in entirely inappropriate material. When Queensgate House was constructed, relatively recently, the Planning Authority placed specific limitations on its massing, height and appearance, as it sits at a key gateway in the town.
This proposal contravenes all these conditions: it represents over-development of a relatively small site; it is far too tall and, by replacing the stipulated stone with brick, the cladding contravenes UDP policy BE11, NPPF paragraph 60 and the Draft Local Plan response page 156. The applicant makes much of the building’s position vis-à-vis Lowry’s celebrated 1960s painting of the scene from Chapel Hill. This proposed development would significantly damage the vista which has such importance for local people.
Planning Committee Decision: Refused.
APPLICATION NUMBER 2016/92030 Locations: Proposed Kingsgate Leisure and Retail Development, 20-22 Cross Church Street, Fleece Yard, Sun Inn Yard, White Lion Yard, land at r, Huddersfield, Cross Church Street, Huddersfield, HD1 2TP. Description of development: Listed Building Consent for erection of extension to existing Kingsgate Shopping Centre to form new Leisure Development including new cinema and restaurants, and demolition of existing buildings on the site including 20-24 Cross Church Street (partly within a Conservation Area).
Our comment: The Society is pleased that its original objections to the canopy and way markers have been heard and that both have been removed from the plan. We are also supportive of the use of natural stone on the visible elevations as now proposed in the amended plans. There are still concerns that the hanging sign could set a precedent for other listed buildings, but overall we are satisfied that our original fears have been assuaged. We would ask to be consulted before the proposed "public art" is commissioned.
Planning Authority Decision: Permitted.
APPLICATION NUMBER 2017/90951 Location: Longdenholme, 34, Greenhead Road, Huddersfield, HD1 4EZ. Description of development: Conversion of existing coach house to form 2 dwellings, erection of one dwelling, new vehicular access and parking/turning (within a Conservation Area).
Our objection: This application should be refused as it would have a severe detrimental effect on the character of Greenhead Conservation Area and the setting of the listed Greenhead Park, particularly the War Memorial designed by Sir Charles Nicholson in 1922 which was recently up-graded to Grade II* owing to its remarkable scale, exploiting to the maximum effect its siting on the Belvedere of 1881-4. The main detriment to this sensitive site comes from the proposed removal of huge sections of the high stone wall with profiled copings and an ornate gated pedestrian access on Park Drive South.
All this destruction is proposed to gain vehicular access to the site; this is neither necessary nor desirable. Park Drive South is narrow with parking all along the opposite side of the road. Vehicular access should remain as it is at present from Greenhead Road as this is far more suited to the role, being on a bus route as well as being free from car parking. The proposed two storey extension to the west of the stable block would lead to the diminution of the imposing chimney stack, which forms an iconic part of the building designed by the renowned local architect Ben Stocks: the extension should not be permitted. The proposed new house should not have the ground floor extension as it is not in keeping with the character of the Conservation Area.
Planning Authority Decision: Permitted, but, with the exception of vehicular access, all our objections dating back to 2015 have been satisfied.
APPLICATION NUMBER: 2017/92393 Location: 27, Greenhead Road, Huddersfield, HD1 4EN. Description of development: Listed Building Consent for erection of four non-illuminated signs (Conservation Area).
Our objection: These proposed signs are totally inappropriate for use on this Listed Building in a Conservation Area. The signage is almost laughable in its unsuitability: each is too large, harming the integrity of the building's frontage; the three designs being both tawdry and garish, paying no respect whatsoever to the character of the Conservation Area, causing substantial harm contrary to UDP Policies BE3 and BE13 as well as NPPF paragraphs 128-133. This application should be refused.
Planning Authority Decision: All proposed signage altered to our satisfaction and permitted.
APPLICATION NUMBER: 2017/62/92744/W Location: Birks Farm, Arkenley Lane, Almondbury, Huddersfield, HD8 0LH. Description of development: Erection of detached dwelling and demolition of existing building.
Our objection: This application should be refused as it constitutes inappropriate development in the Green Belt contrary to Kirklees UDP and the NPPF. No very special circumstances have been provided which could override the protected status of the site. This application does not satisfy any of the criteria required for a building to be permitted in the Green Belt: it is not for agricultural or forestry use; it is not an outdoor sports facility or a cemetery; nor is it a replacement of a current building for the same use. By no stretch of the imagination could this huge proposed house on a relatively isolated site be described as "infill" in a village setting, nor does it contribute to affordable housing in a rural community. If permitted, this application would set a very dangerous precedent for further unwarranted housing development in this most iconic of rural settings contiguous with a Conservation Area.