Business and innovation mentor CHARLES MALTBY is programme director of Huddersfield Unlimited, a business-led organisation that stands for the town. Here he tells of his first year in the role and his hopes for the future.

Around this time last year, Huddersfield Unlimited (HU) founder and chair, Sir John Harman, went on record to comment on why 2022 would be such a key year for Huddersfield, and included a reference to my, then, recent appointment. What an interesting year this has been!

As a resident of Huddersfield and an individual connected with – and providing support to – local businesses, joining HU was an opportunity to do more for business and the wider community here in Huddersfield, and therefore, help move HU’s priorities forwards.

The audience at our recent mini conference, ‘Our Huddersfield, Our Future’, in October, heard first-hand about the more than £1 billion committed for investment into the town.

They were also able to hear the ongoing undertakings of Kirklees councillor Graham Turner and Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, to push, via their organisations, for further public funding as part of the Government’s Levelling Up activity.

The known committed investment funding, includes Kirklees Council’s planned ‘Cultural Heart’ in the town centre, to draw in new and existing retail and hospitality vendors to populate the quarter and add to the other town centre initiatives, such as the revitalised George Hotel/Station Gateway.

The aim is to increase footfall from all age groups wishing to enjoy new cultural and leisure activities, as well as for others to benefit from the new employment opportunities presented. For this fantastic opportunity to be fully successful, HU will act when necessary to hold the council to their own stated objectives and provide critical but friendly advice when we feel ambition is waning.

Our globally recognised University of Huddersfield also forms part of the committed investment, having acquired the Southgate site (formerly the old sports centre) to build the new National Health Innovation Campus.

This is where, having just had planning permission confirmed, the university plans to open the first building by autumn 2024. The university will go on to build further facilities, supporting the wellbeing of the local and national population, through the targeted provision of research, training and integration with relevant healthcare providers and businesses.

Surrounding the new campus are plans to engage with local and new-to-the-town medical, health and wellbeing businesses. Hopefully a number of these will take up residence in the Kirklees Council identified ‘Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor’ and bring high value jobs to the town, no doubt meeting the needs of graduating students and other sector-relevant qualified residents by doing so.

Once again HU considers part of its role is to ensure that the council and university investments are designed from day 1 to bring new business and employment opportunities in and around the new campus and along the Enterprise Corridor.

Charles Maltby

A major part of the £1 billion investment figure relates to the upgrade of the TransPennine rail route through Huddersfield Station. This will act as a catalyst for more public and private investment to target the creation of residential and business premises in its close proximity.

Huddersfield has the great fortune of being geographically central along what is the main (only) East/West route through the Northern Powerhouse, as well as currently having a rental profile significantly lower than either Leeds or Manchester.

It is a rental profile that will no doubt increase, generating greater returns as investors develop sites such as the Station Warehouse, Northumberland Street, Trinity Road and many more, bringing new office, laboratory and living spaces to these areas.

My time has also been spent helping launch the “Our Huddersfield” campaign with partners from the council, university and Huddersfield BID. This group has come together to help HU promote the positive aspects and opportunities within the town to a wider audience including drawing in the private investment community.

As part of this campaign, one focus for HU in 2023 is to support the creation of a compelling town prospectus, where our standing as an independent voice for business in Huddersfield allows us to concentrate on what can be achieved through collaboration and targeted actions.

Indeed, we welcome anyone wishing to help HU drive forwards this activity and promote Huddersfield to a wider audience, to get in touch via the HU website where the HU ‘Vision for Huddersfield’ can be read and downloaded.

Other planned activities for HU in 2023 include supporting all relevant regional bodies to leverage greater funding for the region’s infrastructure from the Government, now of course led by a Prime Minister from a Yorkshire constituency!

An element of this is to see ongoing funding for the full electrification of the Leeds/Manchester railway. We also aim to aid improvements to the main road network, enhancing congestion free access to Huddersfield and push for Active Travel schemes to be more fully incorporated into all travel initiatives, to help drive down the local carbon footprint and improve air quality.

2023 will also see HU put plans in action to engage better with the diverse population and communities of Huddersfield and draw together a stronger collective picture of Huddersfield’s future, to offer the best value and provide the greatest impact for all who live, learn, work, or play in the town.

It would be foolish to assume that everything the town wants can be delivered, but there are some clear priorities, and we will focus on those.

HU will, therefore, work directly with key stakeholders such as Kirklees Council, the university, the regional bodies and transport or other organisations involved in the delivery of these aspects, maintaining our independence, whilst applying supportive pressure that those entities deliver on the promises they make to the town.

Anyone wishing to help HU drive Huddersfield forwards should please follow #OurHuddersfield campaign activities across HU’s social platforms and make yourselves known to HU via its website or