Go-ahead for central Huddersfield overhaul

Proposals for Kirklees Council’s £210m Cultural Heart development have been approved, with refurbishing the listed Queensgate Market first on the list.

Construction work on the first phase is set to get under way in spring 2024, with initial works concentrating on Queensgate Market and the creation of a new outdoor public square.

Professional advisors on the project include development manager Queensberry, planner Pegasus and architect Feilden Clegg Bradley, Arup, along with venue partner IPW, Turner & Townsend, landscape architect re-form, Etude, Sustainable Construction Services and Jane Simpson Access

The council said that the market building will be sensitively adapted to become a foodhall, with space for around ten independent food stalls, in the manner of various successful schemes across the country in recent years – regional examples include HoH in Hull, Crimple Harrogate and Sky House Co’s redevelopment of Oughtibridge Mill near Sheffield,

Also at the Queensgate building will be a new library venue for Huddersfield. Designed with flexible spaces in mind, this glass-fronted building will feature group meeting amenities, quiet breakout rooms, a dedicated children’s area, a local history room and computer facilities.

Once complete, a special event space and terrace on the top floor of the library will look out over the new square, billed as an attractive outdoor space with water features that will double up as a destination for community and cultural events.

The foodhall will accomodate 10 operators. Credit: Counter Context

To enable these initial works, a section of the existing Piazza building along Princess Alexandra Walk will need to be demolished. The remainder of the Piazza building will stay in place until demolition is required to progress work onsite, with units including Boots and WH Smith also staying open during this period.

Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor, said: “Our Cultural Heart project is a transformational scheme that will, alongside our wider Huddersfield Blueprint plans, provide a huge boost to our local economy and existing businesses.

“The Cultural Heart is all about delivering genuine long-term community assets, where friends and families can gather, relax and socialise. We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and we understand that times are challenging right now for many. This reinforces our ambition to grow our town centre offer and give people more reasons to visit and spend time here.”

The council said it has started the process of appointing a principal contractor. Various site surveys and preparation works will be completed throughout 2023, with work starting in earnest early in 2024.

The first phase of the scheme is projected to complete in spring 2026. Following this, work will start on a new urban park, a museum and gallery, a mixed-use building to help bridge the park and Queen Street divide, and finally, a 2,200-capacity live entertainment venue with a 350-space car park.

A new library is a key part of the project. Credit: Counter Context


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