Council chiefs have pledged to manage and maintain the planned ‘city park’ for central Huddersfield – to avoid negative comparisons with Manchester.
The pledge comes as Kirklees Council is set to hire architects and engineers to deliver its massive Â£ 250million Huddersfield plan, which is being considered to ‘reconfigure’ the city center with the Urban Park, a space event / a catering offer, a library and a museum to create a “cultural heart”.
In a progress report to the Council’s Economic and Neighborhoods Review Committee (September 7), officers and advisers spoke about the so-called master plan which, two years after its much-publicized launch at Lawrence Batley Theater, is at an âevaluation and optioning stageâ.
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They provided no picture of the current state of the program – and warned that its implementation will require “a significant amount of resources.”
This prompted Clr Gwen Lowe (Lab, Batley West) to request a 3D model of what’s planned.
Clr John Taylor (Con, Kirkburton) lamented the lack of information on the proposed new museum to be created as part of the Cultural Heart and urged officers to look to the past – and areas like Greenhead Park – so that what is intended does not become a “windblown empty space”.
He said the board should seize the opportunity to create “something we can be proud of in a hundred years.”
The Council’s Strategic Director for Growth and Regeneration, David Shepherd, who is leading the development of the master plan, is committed to managing and maintaining the park – designed as “a vibrant and vibrant center” – as use in downtown areas can be heavy.
He commented: “They can quickly become places like, dare I say it, Manchester Piccadilly Gardens. There has been a lot of money spent on Piccadilly Gardens and if you go there I don’t think the City Council of Manchester is particularly proud of Piccadilly Gardens today.
“It’s not necessarily a welcoming and inviting space. So you could go wrong if you don’t maintain them.”
The council has already allocated nearly Â£ 6million to hire consultants to drive the master project: Leeds-based Turner & Townsend and London-based Mace.
It’s now in the middle of a bidding process to decide which architects and engineers will land the plum contract, which involves tearing down the 1970s Piazza to create the urban park.
Queensgate Market and the Central Library are both listed buildings.
Senior union advisers and cabinet members Peter McBride and Paul Davies said the complex and ambitious project would not be easy to achieve, but it was an exciting project that “would transform the whole city center”.
Mr Shepherd pledged to “absolutely ensure” that the market building and the library building are “preserved” and are “part of the plot of the future”.
He added: “We have already demolished the multi-storey car park [on Alfred Street] and there will likely be more demolitions.
“There are demanding arrangements around this demolition process.”
The old car park will be replaced, although the capacity is probably less than that of the original 588 spaces.
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