Historic England has backed Kirklees Council’s vision for the £210 million Cultural Heart which will breathe new life into two listed buildings.

The project will see the refurbishment and extension of the grade II-listed Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery which will become the new Huddersfield Museum.

The library will close on New Year’s Eve and move to a temporary location in Civic Centre III in Market Street.

The grade II-listed Queensgate Market, which closed in October, will be redeveloped into a new library and food hall.

Alongside the repurposing of these historic buildings, the project also features a new events venue, art gallery, urban park, outdoor event space and multi-storey car park.

Emma Sharpe, inspector of historic buildings and areas at Historic England, said: “The Cultural Heart is an ambitious project to revitalise this part of Huddersfield’s town centre.

“It could offer substantial benefits to local people and visitors including the enhancement of important historic buildings through increased investment and greater public access.

“We welcome the way in which the proposals have been developed with consideration for the significance of Huddersfield’s heritage generally and the particular historic and architectural significance of the Queensgate Market and library buildings.”

As the Government’s expert advisor on England’s heritage, part of Historic England’s role is to advise on development proposals affecting the historic environment.

Historic England was involved in detailed discussions with Kirklees Council and architects Feilden Clegg Bradley (FCBStudios) during the development of the Cultural Heart plans.

Ms Sharpe added: “It’s really helpful for us to be involved with a project like the Cultural Heart in the early stages. This way, we can highlight the significance of protected historic buildings and advise on how development plans can help retain and enhance their special character.”

Clr Graham Turner, Kirklees Council Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The investment in, and revitalisation of, our town centres is vital if they are to thrive again.

“The Cultural Heart strikes the perfect balance of creating a vibrant and welcoming destination for all whilst celebrating the town’s heritage and putting the magnificent historic buildings front and centre.

“We are proud of our heritage and are committed to not just preserving these important buildings but giving them a new lease of life so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come.

“I am really pleased that we have developed a strong partnership with Historic England, whose support has also been vital in bringing the iconic George Hotel back to life after years of decay and neglect.

“I look forward to working with them on future projects across Kirklees.”

A vision of what the new Cultural Heart could look like

James Sibson, an associate at FCBStudios, said: “Close engagement with Historic England is a tenet of our work at FCBStudios.

“We help our clients achieve dynamic change in challenging historic settings. Projects succeed when heritage matters are brought to the fore and are made the subject of detailed understanding.

“Our discussions with Historic England began early in our work and continued on a regular basis as the designs were developed.

“These engagements with Historic England have ensured the Cultural Heart scheme has found the best balance for a sustainable and dynamic re-use that will celebrate the best of the heritage context without compromising the future potential.”

The council has submitted a planning application for the Cultural Heart scheme and has said that phase one of the project will focus on the food hall and new library and the public events space outside. Construction may not start until Spring 2024 with completion two years later.