Helping to prevent adverse developments – supporting positive applications
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. Here is a list of the latest planning applications.
If you see an application you think we should know about, please contact us in addition to telling Kirklees Council your views.
APPLICATION NUMBERS 2019/91505 and 2019/91506 Location: St George's Square Description of development: The George Hotel
Huddersfield Civic Society welcomes and 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.
APPLICATION NUMBER 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.
APPLICATION NUMBERS 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.
APPLICATION NUMBER:2017/94109 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.