HCS Members’ Update April 2023

The former Huddersfield Infirmary is just one listed building at risk in Huddersfield. See update section on Conservation and Listed Buildings.

Members update from Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles


Wednesday, May 24, 2023, 7pm-8.30pm at New North Road Baptist Church, New North Parade Huddersfield HD1 5JU

Peter Womersley, Architect, 1923 -1993. Talk: ‘The Best House in Britain’.

There’s already a strong interest in attending this event so if you haven’t already booked your place on Eventbrite please do so soon.

Neil Jackson, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Liverpool, will be outlining the life and work of architect Peter Womersley, designer of Farnley Hey near Honley and the former Midland Bank (now HSBC) in the town centre, and coincides with the publication by the Twentieth Century Society, Historic England and Liverpool University Press, of the first book on Peter Womersley written by the speaker.

Bookings can now be made via Eventbrite by clicking here or using this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peter-womersley-1923-1993-architect-talk-the-best-house-in-britain-tickets-593311940987

Saturday, July 22, 2023. HCS Tour of Barnsley Town Centre.

Hosted by Barnsley Civic Trust, our annual Saturday day out offers the chance to discover some of the region’s towns and attractions. Following an evening visit to Halifax in 2022 this excursion will provide an insight into how another of our regional towns is responding to change as well as its heritage and cultural highlights.

Further details in a later update.

Discover Huddersfield Walks’ Programme 2023

Modernism in architecture will be the focus of the next DH walk at 2.30pm, on Sunday, May 14. Led by former HCS Chair Chris Marsden, the walk will reveal how Huddersfield embraced this architectural style, looking at some of the surviving hits, misses and messes. Bookings can be made up to 14 days before each walk through Eventbrite by going to: bit.ly/42gClji

Conservation and Listed Buildings

A recent online meeting with Helen Bower, recently appointed Team Leader Kirklees Conservation, Design, Ecology and Trees allowed me, Martin Kilburn, Robert Taylor and corporate member, architect Jonathan Lovatt, to raise issues concerning key listed buildings at risk, namely the former Infirmary; St. Andrews Church, Leeds Road; Oakes School; Edgerton Cemetery, Gatehouse and Chapels and Dalton Grange, Bradley Mills Road.

Helen outlined the work of her team, resource constraints and the welcome appointment of specialist consultants, Purcell architects and heritage consultants, for preparing a Conservation Area Management Plan for the town centre.

This includes consideration of a shop front design guide, something HCS developed in draft with the council over 12 years ago but was never published. We expect to be formally consulted on this shortly.

The HCS focus was on how the local authority was meeting its responsibilities in ensuring the proper protection of key listed buildings and their re-use. This included the need for adequate enforcement to prevent damage through vandalism and weather, the marketing of Edgerton cemetery buildings and other actions to counter what appears to be an increasing number of listed properties being purposefully left to decay.

Huddersfield Town Centre Partnership Seminar  

A Living Town – A focus on Huddersfield Town Centre Residential Development.

As a participant in the Town Centre Partnership, Service Director for Development Joanne Bartholomew had responded to my request to organise a short seminar on town centre residential opportunities.

As a result, I was able to give a short presentation along with speakers from Kirklees, the University of Huddersfield, Thirteen Group (who are partners with Kirklees in the conversion of Estate Buildings and Somerset Buildings) and Historic England.

Given the difficulty in attracting major players, such as Urban Splash to the town, my focus was on the successful conversion of property and vacant land, much of which is listed or within the TC Conservation Area and support for local developers and their architects in co-ordinating, advising, incentivising and promoting the many opportunities that exist.

Along with committee colleague Gideon Richards, HCS corporate members attending included representatives from Acumen, Fibre and Eight One Two architects.

Planning Issues

Crown House and the University Health Campus

HCS has broadly supported proposals to convert the former tax office Crown House, which has been empty for many years, into student accommodation. Developers, Abode Manchester 2 Ltd, have applied for permission to transform it into 198 studio apartments. The site sits adjacent to the university’s Health Campus on Southgate.

As you may have seen reported by local media, work has now begun on the first phase of the health campus on the junction of Leeds Road and the ring road, the Daphne Steele building, named after the first black matron in the UK which will house the Health and Wellbeing Academy.

St Peter’s Gardens

Although HCS was involved in initial consultations and despite efforts made by committee colleague Sylvia Johnson, we were surprised when Kirklees Cabinet allocated the Parish Church £470,000 from Historic England’s High Streets/Heritage Action Zone funding, without any further liaison.

The church had already received the necessary approvals to carry out work to create an integrated parking and multi-functional events space for an area adjoining the church and will be delighted to have received this grant.

However, we remain concerned that this proposal was not integral to the draft improvement plans for the remainder of the gardens. As has often been stated, this is the only notable green space within the town centre and yet there is little information forthcoming regarding improvements to the remaining part of the site nor any indication of a plan for how events and maintenance of the whole area are to be managed. Sylvia is currently liaising with the church’s architect, Stuart Beaumont of One 17 architects, and we expect to be included in further discussions in relation to Phase 2 proposals.

The George Hotel

It is understood Kirklees officers and architects Bowman Riley have been in discussion with the regional office of Historic England in relation to the proposals to convert the building into a hotel for Radisson hotel group. It is hoped that attention has been paid to formal comments submitted by HCS, although no specific information has yet appeared under ‘Consultation Responses’ for the scheme other than an initial letter stating, ‘The project team has arranged a site visit to discuss the proposed alterations. We will provide detailed comments on the impact of the proposals on the significance of the building following that visit.”

The letter was submitted on February 13 so it is assumed this meeting has already taken place.