HCS Members’ Update January 2023: Concerns over George Hotel renovations but good news on railway station upgrade

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The George Hotel. Photo by Andy Hirst from AH! PR.

As we welcome in 2023 there has been a surge in activity particularly in relation to proposals for the town centre.

The George Hotel

A formal application (2023/90024) for the conversion of the George Hotel has recently been submitted. The HCS Executive Committee will shortly be submitting its comments on the proposals.

Rather than be daunted by the sheer number of plans that have been submitted to support the application, I suggest it’s particularly important to look at the Design and Access Statement and I would draw members’ attention to pages 20-25 of this document.

Those who attended the presentation by Helen Walker, Head of Heritage, Bowman Riley Architects and conservation architect for the renovation of the George Hotel, in September 2022, will recall that her commission was primarily an investigation of the internal structure and historic elements (see Heritage Statement). What concerns me regarding the pages I have referred to are some of the elevational details, the mix of various materials and the articulation of the extensions particularly with regard to the elevations facing towards the railway line and onto JW Street.

I hope others will not only have time to look at the proposals but would urge people to submit their views. I have been in contact with Huddersfield Society of Architects, several of whom are corporate HCS members, to elicit their views. This is one of the town centre’s most notable buildings and how it looks when extended will be critical in ensuring the building’s historic and architectural importance is secure.

Transport Proposals

Further to my last update regarding the effect of inflation on proposed transport schemes, including Huddersfield Station Gateway improvements, we have received some comforting news from Kirklees.

It appears that £500,000 has been allocated in the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund to develop proposals for Huddersfield Station Gateway up to Outline Business Case, the milestone for which is December 1, 2023 when the project would be reviewed.
 
This provides an opportunity to investigate several key elements of work namely, a subway or footbridge extension from the new station platform to the St George’s Warehouse site, a lift/stair tower from the warehouse site to the town centre for non-rail users and park and ride on the warehouse site, for cars, motorcycles and cycles – to serve users of the station, town centre, and a re-developed warehouse and ancillary buildings.
 
This is excellent news, one that HCS fully supports and will, hopefully, be consulted on as details emerge.

Events

Tuesday, March 7, 2023 7pm to 8.30pm: HCS/University of Huddersfield Annual Joint Lecture: Making Housing Fit for a ‘Net Zero’ Future.

As mentioned in my last update this free lecture is aimed at the question of retrofitting housing and demystifying net zero. While climate change has often focused on new buildings, our speakers will consider issues including the lack of understanding of both retrofitting and net zero, the links between these and the need to change perception and behaviours around how we manage our homes.

Recent publicity regarding mould problems faced by some social housing tenants, cost pressures on both private and social landlords and budgeting challenges make net zero housing appear all the more challenging.

Following an introduction by Phil Brown, Professor of Housing at Huddersfield University, a speaker from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will discuss the lessons currently being learned from a pilot project ‘retrofitting’ 1,316 houses, many of which also need new ‘low carbon’ heating systems. These are the first of our area’s 680,000 social housing properties likely to need such work as part of meeting West Yorkshire’s 2038 net zero carbon targets.

A social housing provider will then discuss the trials and tribulations of carrying out such a large project across a large stock of social housing. What’s in it for a tenant, what are the key risks and problems and how might these be addressed?

Chris Herring, joint Managing Director of Green Building Store in Golcar and Chair of the Passivhaus Trust, will describe and discuss the benefits of the new EnerPHit, Passivhaus Retrofit Standard and Certificate and how properties that have been retrofitted to these standards support wellbeing, reduced energy usage and decarbonisation.

Claire McCamley, Senior lecturer in Marketing at Huddersfield University and a specialist in behaviour change and stakeholder management, will then lead a panel discussion and invite questions from the audience on the range of practical, financial and behavioural issues to be tackled to lead us on the road to net zero in our country’s existing homes.

Further information and booking details will follow in mid-February.

Future Events:

We are currently planning a number of new events as well as working with our partners on the new Discover Huddersfield walks’ programme, commencing in April, and Heritage Open Days in September.

Among the events being planned are a Saturday morning guided tour around Barnsley town centre and a presentation in late May about the celebrated architect Peter Womersley whose modernist house, Farnley Hey near Honley, is considered to be one of the finest of its type in the country.

Of Time and Place: February 10 April 1, Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 4pm. Huddersfield Art Gallery, Unit 7 Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, HD1 2RS.

This free public exhibition celebrates Huddersfield and its surrounding area, its culture, language, landscape, architecture and history. Curated by architectural practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the exhibition is part of their wider engagement with the community alongside Kirklees Council’s ambitious Cultural Heart plans which will revitalise the centre through the repurposing of historic buildings and the creation of new arts, culture and leisure venues.

While the architecture of the Cultural Heart of Kirklees was the starting point, the resulting exhibition looks to engage with as wide an audience as possible, offering different views and experiences, and celebrating local life and language with a piece developed in collaboration with local resident and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

The exhibition has been created in collaboration with Huddersfield University, Kirklees Council, Simon Armitage, Colin Frank, Laura Mateescu and former HCS Chair Chris Marsden.

Town Centre Cultural Heart

As mentioned in my last update, a small group met David Shepherd, Kirklees Council’s Strategic Director for Growth and Regeneration on January 13. At the meeting, which also involved David Glover, Senior Officer responsible for the Cultural Heart application, emphasis was placed on specific issues emanating from concerns articulated in the HCS formal response to the planning application.

These concerns revolve around:

Adequacy and practicality of parking & access
Viability of the development
Practicality of the Outdoor event space (at the size proposed)
Impact on and sustainability of retail offer

HCS Committee Secretary Martin Kilburn has dedicated a great deal of time in articulating these concerns, specifically analysing figures prepared by the council and Arup consultants on which the detailed designs prepared by Feilden, Clegg, Bradley (FCB) have been based.

Planning Matters

As well as comments submitted regarding the Cultural Heart, we have also responded to a variety of other applications and received notification on decisions about previous applications on which we have commented. For details of these go to the HCS website Planning pages.