Two tower cranes on the Huddersfield skyline show that the town is on the rise, a business conference was told.
Huge cranes have been working on the construction of the £60 million Daphne Steele Building for the University of Huddersfield and another is helping raise the roof on the Kingsgate Centre.
There’s more than £1 billion of investment going into Huddersfield with major building works already underway at Huddersfield Railway Station, the George Hotel and Estate Buildings.
Speaking at the Huddersfield Unlimited mini-conference, Clr Graham Turner, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration, pointed to the tower cranes and said: “We want to invest to create a forward looking town centre for future generations.”
Clr Turner highlighted the George Hotel which is to be come a Radisson Red. Work is now underway on the internal designs.
“I am convinced we will create something that Huddersfield can be rightly proud of,” he said. “We have been to Radisson hotels in Liverpool and Glasgow and it gave us some fantastic ideas and helped shape our thinking.
“We want our interior to very much reflect Huddersfield. I assure you, you will know you are in Huddersfield when you stay in the George Hotel!”
Images by Huddersfield Hub photographer SEAN DOYLE
Clr Turner said the Kingsgate Leisure development, which will see a six-screen cinema built along with other leisure and food outlets, would also be huge for Huddersfield.
The cinema will be created where House of Fraser used to be and another storey is being added to the building.
Kirklees Council gave Kingsgate a loan for the development and Clr Turner said: “The council was instrumental in driving the finances. It’s an exciting development which will bring new life to the night-time economy.
“It’s a fantastic example of the public and private sector working together for the benefit of our residents.”
Paul Cleminson, pre-construction director for development firm BAM, which is working on three major town centre projects – the Cultural Heart, the National Health Innovation Campus and the TransPennine Route Upgrade – said they would be mindful of disruption during the various works.
“Could the town centre end up as a building site for the next few years? No, it certainly cannot be and it won’t be,” he said. “We want to start bringing the town back, not afterwards, but as we complete the projects.”
Huddersfield Railway Station will be completely rebuilt inside as part of the TransPennine Route Upgrade. There will be an enclosed roof and a new footbridge. There will be three tracks and longer platforms.
The development will also open up access to the derelict St George’s Warehouse behind the station.
The conference, held at the John Smith’s Stadium, was hosted by Huddersfield Unlimited chairman Sir John Harman.
When he was leader of Kirklees Council in the early 1990s he and Huddersfield entrepreneur Graham Leslie were the driving force behind the creation of the stadium.
The stadium opened in 1994 and Sir John said: “It was a signal to the outside world that Huddersfield wasn’t all mill chimneys and cloth caps. We were coming out of the 1980s and it was a statement of intent.
“It was something completely new and at the time it felt like it was a turning point. I feel that today we are also seeing a turning point with over a £1 billion in public spending already underway.
“There are things happening in this town that, if we embrace them, can take us forward.”