In a significant milestone for the Holmfirth Blueprint, Kirklees Council has announced the successful completion of the Holmfirth Town Centre Access Plan (HTCAP) preliminary works, which took place from August to September 2023.

These initial tasks encompassed several crucial aspects. This involved strict adherence to legislation concerning bird nesting activity. This was necessary to progress with the clearance of vegetation, the mitigation of bat habitats, and the repointing of river walls.

Guided by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), the council ensured that no harm befell any birds. On August 10, 2023, a survey on bird nesting confirmed their expectations. Within the designated work zones, no active nests were discovered. This thorough assessment provided the council with the approval to proceed with the preliminary works, ensuring they treaded lightly upon the earth, minimising disruption to the avian residents.

Following the green light to commence the preliminary work, the first crucial step in the Holmfirth Town Centre Access Plan was the clearance of vegetation. This process, executed on both sides of the bridge, facilitated a visual inspection of the wall’s condition. It also significantly improved the area’s visual appeal by removing excess vegetation.

Preserving the local wildlife formed an integral part of the council’s mission. Bat mitigation work, which began on August 14, 2023, stood as a testament to their dedication to safeguarding these extraordinary creatures and nurturing Holmfirth’s unique ecosystem. Fortunately, they found no evidence of recent roosting activity within these areas. To ensure the continued protection of the bats, they implemented temporary exclusion measures and installed interim bat boxes.

On September 6, 2023, their work with bats continued on the northern wall. Here, they uncovered only a handful of Potential Roosting Features (PRF), without any recent bat activity. Once again, temporary exclusion measures were their chosen course of action.

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said; “Our commitment to preserving the town’s heritage and enabling a new bridge to be built began with the repointing of the river walls. The main reason for repointing was to ensure the structural integrity of the wall so a new bridge could be built next year as part of the main works. The southern wall’s transformation was completed on September 1, 2023, followed closely by the northern wall on September 8, 2023. These walls, steeped in history, have now been rejuvenated, their structural integrity fortified. This has not only preserved the town’s heritage but also allowed for a new beginning with the construction of a new bridge. This will be part of the main work scheduled for next year.

“The successful completion of these preliminary works represents not just the transformation of Holmfirth’s town centre but also the preservation of its natural treasures. We are paving the way for a brighter future, one that embraces both development and ecological conservation.”