Members’ update from Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles
Here’s a varied bag of activities, updates and information I hope will provide some clarity about our involvement and efforts as the town evolves during a period that is both exciting yet challenging.
News that Kirklees Council has given itself listed building consent to demolish 1-5 Longroyd Lane, after the buildings had been left to deteriorate and rot for over 40 years has set a worrying precedent.
In an article in the Examiner on February 24, 2023, former HCS Chair Chris Marsden stated ‘the decay of the properties was entirely planned and cynical’. What concerns me even more is the level of irresponsibility by the local authority when we have a number of other significant listed buildings that appear to be purposefully being left to rot by their private owners.
Clearly councillors appear to take the line that once a listed building deteriorates to a certain level it is acceptable to allow demolition, as indicated by the quote in the article and by comments made when the former Infirmary/Kirklees College site was given approval.
I don’t dispute that this junction has been subject to proposed and much needed road improvements for years but the way the council has handled this sets a very low benchmark. Kirklees, above all others, needs to demonstrate that it recognises and values the town’s build heritage.
A number of colleagues and myself will take these issues up with Helen Bower who fairly recently has been appointed Kirklees Team Leader, Conservation and Design, at a meeting currently being arranged.
Other Recent Decisions
Fortunately, there is also some better news to report. Applications for a number of large illuminated display panels, proposed for footways around the town centre, about which we submitted strong objections, have recently been refused. Click here to read the Huddersfield Hub story about this.
Also rejected is a proposal to erect a 15 metre high telecoms mast directly in front of the Grade 2* Old Longley Hall, one of the most architecturally and historically important buildings in the town. Again, we hope our comments supplemented similar concerns voiced by the council’s Conservation Officer.
For these and more submitted comments regarding current applications don’t forget to check out the HCS website Planning pages.
The George Hotel
A formal HCS response to Kirklees regarding proposals for the conversion of the George Hotel (application 2023/90024) has been submitted and published on the HCS website.
There have been various levels of support and concern with acknowledgement of the detailed investigations and consideration for preservation of the original 1850 building but concerns over the two extended blocks, necessary to provide the 90 bedroom capacity required by Radisson. These are not felt to be fully considered, especially in the context of ensuring the main elevations augment the special qualities and impact of other buildings in the square.
Please find the time to look at the proposals and submit your views.
Tuesday, March 28, 7pm to 8.30pm. HCS annual general meeting by Zoom.
This year we’ll be hosting the AGM by Zoom. Given the AGM, covering my report as Chair, Michael Barron’s treasurer’s report and nominations for the coming year is completed in just over 30 minutes we felt that, rather than organise a speaker, we would allocate 30 to 45 minutes for members to ask questions about our work and initiatives, projects affecting the town centre and suburbs and other issues individuals may wish to raise.
Representing over 140 members it is really important we strive to obtain your feedback so we hope you will note the date and make every effort to attend from the comfort of your home. Agenda and papers will be sent out in the next fortnight and, please, if you feel you could provide practical support to our efforts we would love to welcome new faces onto the committee.
Wednesday, May 24, 7pm to 8.30pm. New North Road Baptist Church.
Neil Jackson, Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of Liverpool will be talking about the life and work of 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.
Neil’s book about Peter Womersley (1923 – 1993) is soon to be published and will draw attention to the significance of his work, placing it in its national and international context. We are delighted to have organised the event in partnership with the recently formed Huddersfield chapter of the Modernist Society.
Booking details to follow.
Of Time and Place: February 10 to 1 April, Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 4pm. Huddersfield Art Gallery, Unit 7 Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield, HD1 2RS.
I know I mentioned this in my last update but if you haven’t already been or benefitted from one of the tours, led by former HCS Chair Chris Marsden, I urge you to do so.
I still hear the occasional comment about why on earth the market is considered such a special building. Well, why not visit the exhibition and hopefully you’ll begin to appreciate how this building matches the quality of a number of equally ambitious and ground-breaking structures across the globe.
Discover Huddersfield Trails and Walks’ Programme 2023
Two new trails are currently being prepared for publication at the end of March. The Town of Sanctuary Trail by Heather Norris Nicholson follows locations associated with the support the town has shown for people fleeing from violence, conflict and persecution from the 19th Century onwards.
The Greasepaint and Limelight Trail by Ian Stevenson is part two of a trail, first prepared by the late Brian Haigh, which traces the fascinating story of our theatres and cinemas many of which no longer exist or have been converted to other uses.
Both trails are free and, like the other 17 in the series, can be found at libraries and various locations around the town.
The Walks’ Programme commences on Sunday, April 30 when local historian and HCS member David Griffiths will reveal ‘Georgian Huddersfield’. Programme leaflets and booking details will be available from libraries and other information points or from the Discover Huddersfield website https://discoverhuddersfield.uk from the end of March.
And finally, thanks to all who have paid this year’s subs. If it has slipped your mind please let us have your payment as soon as possible. Remember, it is just £12.50 for individual members and £30 for corporate members. All your money helps towards our work in continuing to strive for a town which is proud of its past, its present and its future.