Kirklees Council is set to speed up the delivery of town centre improvements for Huddersfield, including a new food court and event space, a new urban park in the heart of the town as well as a new library, museum and art gallery. Next week, councillors will be asked to endorse an accelerated process for delivering the £200M scheme as the council commits to economic recovery across Kirklees.
The Cultural Heart project is the centrepiece of the council’s Blueprint for Huddersfield, a ten-year programme of economic and infrastructure improvements for the town. With the disruption caused to local businesses by the pandemic, the council has been working to find ways to bring the plans forward more quickly. By setting up a dedicated delivery team to oversee the project, the council believes it can save time in moving the projects from the drawing board to construction while making sure the work has maximum economic impact.
The news follows hot on the heels of the announcement that the council secured £25M of government funding for town centre improvements for Dewsbury as part of its transformation plans for the town. And with £6M earmarked for improvements in the borough’s towns, including Batley, Holmfirth and Cleckheaton, the council is following through on its historic commitment to make the biggest capital investment in towns and infrastructure ever seen in Kirklees.
A report to be considered by the council’s Cabinet will ask councillors to appoint a Strategic Delivery Partner to drive the Cultural Heart programme forwards. The move will save the council at least six months in appointing a team and means it can rely on industry experts to move into the delivery phases of the projects. The plan means the council could be in a position to have its business plan ready as early as July 2022 with planning and construction work for each project to follow.
The plans include:
– A new food court and event space in the centre of town.
– An urban park earmarked for the piazza area.
– A new library building to include a museum and art gallery.
– New car parking to replace the Market Hall car park, which is currently being demolished.
Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor, said “Make no mistake, a thriving Huddersfield is essential for the economic health of everyone in Kirklees. This investment will see people from North and South Kirklees enjoy a range of choices and opportunities. It’s another way of keeping the Kirklees pound in Kirklees whilst attracting individuals and families to Huddersfield to boost our Kirklees economy in an inclusive way. The challenge for us is to get these plans off the drawing board and into the construction phase as quickly as we can. We think we can get ahead of the game by tapping into the expertise and know-how of experts and get these projects shovel-ready in the shortest possible timeframe.”
Cabinet Member for Town Centres, Cllr Eric Firth, said: “Town centres are going to look and feel different in the future. These plans will create a place where people want to spend time and enjoy leisure and cultural activities. It’s a plan that respects our proud heritage while having a firm eye on the future. The Cultural Heart programme is in tune with the economic changes that are happening across the country but we need to work quickly and be ambitious to make a reality of the vision.”