The Kirklees Council’s Cabinet has given its approval for the next phase of funding for the highly anticipated Our Cultural Heart development. This marks a significant step forward as the project moves closer to the delivery phase.
Earlier this year, the planning for Our Cultural Heart, a key component of the ten-year Huddersfield Blueprint vision, received the green light. Since then, efforts to refine the design have been progressing well. On 27 June, the Cabinet reached a consensus to allocate an additional £5.6 million from the project’s funds, facilitating the finalisation of a comprehensive delivery program.
What does the future hold for Our Cultural Heart? The plans involve the renovation of the former Queensgate Market and Huddersfield Library buildings, which will be transformed into a vibrant food hall and a modern museum and gallery, respectively. These new attractions will be complemented by a community-focused library, a live entertainment venue, and a 350-space car park. The entire development will be seamlessly connected through a series of world-class public spaces.
Furthermore, the Cabinet has granted contract extensions for the project’s architects, engineers, and project managers. They have also given the green light to the proposed phased delivery program, as well as the appointment of BAM Construction Ltd as the lead construction contractor for phase one.
What can we expect in phase one? The initial phase will primarily focus on the extensive refurbishment of the historic Queensgate Market site. This site will be transformed into a modern food hall and library, accompanied by a new outdoor public square. Throughout 2023, various site surveys and preparation works will be carried out, with construction expected to commence in early 2024.
When is phase one expected to be completed? The first phase of the project is slated for completion in winter 2025.
Regarding future phases, the Cabinet has also examined plans for the development. One proposal includes consolidating the museum and art gallery under one roof in the Grade II Listed building that formerly housed the town’s library. This decision allows the newly developed building on Queen Street, originally intended for the art gallery, to be utilised for another complementary purpose. The council is currently engaged in preliminary discussions with The Conway Education Trust, established by Greenhead College, regarding the potential for a dedicated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) facility.
Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, expressed his thoughts on the project, saying, “In times of financial challenge, like the ones we are facing now, it is vital that we don’t lose sight of the investment that will safeguard our economy in the future. Our Cultural Heart is testament to our commitment to bringing a prosperous new era to Kirklees along with vital community services like the library, museum, and gallery, which will all be free to visit. I look forward to seeing this important regeneration project come to life and see the positive effect it will have on Huddersfield town centre for generations to come.”
Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, also expressed his excitement, stating, “I’m thrilled that we have been able to update the Cabinet on the significant progress we’ve made on the Our Cultural Heart project and that we now have all the resources in place to enable us to carry the project forward to construction next year. Our Cultural Heart is going to deliver multiple long-term benefits for Huddersfield and the wider borough. 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 as a catalyst for further investment and economic growth.”
Paul Cleminson, BAM’s Project Director for Our Cultural Heart, shared his enthusiasm for the scheme, stating, “This is an exciting scheme for Huddersfield and its wider regeneration. As a resident of Kirklees, I hope that this will be another vital piece of the plan to attract people back to the town centre. The chance to build something special for the town brings with it an obligation, as a responsible business, to use this opportunity to add value to the local economy and community. For BAM, it will allow us to build on the work we are doing at Huddersfield Station and the new Daphne Steele Building for the University, where we are working to leave a positive community legacy, as well as delivering outstanding new buildings and infrastructure.”
For more information about the Our Cultural Heart project, visit the newly launched website at www.ourculturalheart.co.uk.