BAM will start enabling works in March. Credit: Kirklees Council

Summer start for Our Cultural Heart

Kirklees Council’s cabinet has released £51.7m, enabling contractor BAM to begin phase one at Huddersfield’s flagship regeneration project, with exploratory works on phase two also greenlit.

As well as site exploratory works, the part of the funding allocated to phase two will cover procuring a design team and main contractor.

Planning permission for the Our Cultural Heart masterplan was approved in 2023, with the design and delivery programme since being refined.

The cabinet approval allows for the finalisation of the phase one design and work to begin in June or July. BAM was appointed in June last year.

This first phase will concentrate on the refurbishment of the historic former Queensgate Market building, which will be transformed into a food hall. A new library will be incorporated within the existing east wing of the same building, with a new glass-fronted extension to the north.

Both the food hall and new library will directly feed out to a new public square, with the connecting space suited to outdoor cultural events.

Phase two could see a new art gallery and museum brought together under one roof in the grade two-listed building off Princess Alexandra Walk, which previously housed the town’s library.

A building on Queen Street previously earmarked for the gallery could then be taken on by Greenhead College.

Noting the financial difficulties in which the cash-strapped local authority finds itself, Cllr Graham Turner, cabinet member for finance and regeneration, said:

“This has obviously been a hugely challenging time for the Council. However, we are absolutely determined to deliver a brighter future for Huddersfield and the wider Kirklees borough.

“We have a number of transformational projects in the pipeline – including those we’ve recently secured Levelling Up Funding against. We remain 100% confident and committed in our belief that investment into Huddersfield town centre is the right approach. Standing still will only be detrimental to our town’s future and long-term prospects.

“The capital to deliver Our Cultural Heart has long been ringfenced and the business plan is extremely robust. It will increase the number of visitors to our town centre, safeguard key heritage assets, create new job opportunities, enhance our green credentials and act a catalyst for further economic growth.”

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