Kirklees Council has pledged to speed up the £200 million Huddersfield Blueprint town centre regeneration – but at a cost.
The council has admitted it doesn’t have the expertise to deliver the ambitious change it wants to see and outside consultants will have to be hired.
A report to the council’s ruling Cabinet next week says that a team of consultants from Leeds-based Turner & Townsend, backed by London-based Mace, will be employed at a cost of £1.75 million.
When legal fees and property agency costs are taken into account the bill for consultants is likely to top £6.5 million.
The report says: “The council’s vision for a new cultural heart, built around Queensgate Market and the existing library and art gallery, is a significant undertaking that will require an equally significant team to deliver it.
“In developing the team structure, the report considered resources and it became clear, through research with council services, that the capacity and experience of similar masterplan scale programmes was not available in house, and that separate external resources would be required to take the programme forward.”
The council is also doing away with the tender process to recruit consultants as that could further delay the start of work by another six months. Instead it is going to appoint the consultants by “direct award.”
The plan means the council could be in position to have its business plan ready as early as July 2022.
The Blueprint includes:
- A live music venue and food court;
- An urban park earmarked for the Piazza area;
- A new library building to include a museum and art gallery;
- A new multi-storey car park to replace the Market Hall car park, which is currently being demolished.
Council leader Clr Shabir Pandor said: “The challenge for us is to get these plans off the drawing board and into the construction phase as quickly as we can.
“We think we can get ahead of the game by tapping into the expertise and know-how of experts and get these projects shovel-ready in the shortest possible timeframe.
“Make no mistake, a thriving Huddersfield is essential for the economic health of everyone in Kirklees. It’s another way of keeping the Kirklees pound in Kirklees whilst attracting individuals and families to Huddersfield to boost our Kirklees economy in an inclusive way.”
Cabinet member for regeneration, Clr Peter McBride, said: “Our work on the Cultural Heart programme is part of a bigger picture of change and improvement for Huddersfield.
“We already have major projects ongoing in the town at New Street, the redevelopment of the George Hotel and a series of local transport improvements.
“On top of that, we’ve worked with the university on a very significant investment for their new healthcare campus and there’s plenty of opportunities for development along the station to stadium route.
“It’s all about momentum now and that’s exactly what this proposal gives us.”