By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
Kirklees Council has given the go-ahead for a supermarket on the former Kirklees College site – but the rest of a longed-for development there may not go ahead for years.
Kirklees Strategic Planning Committee says the supermarket – thought to be Lidl – can be built there but didn’t make any firm decisions about other aspects of the application which included developing the old Grade II listed former Huddersfield infirmary and other listed buildings on the landmark site into homes and offices.
The vandalised old Kirklees College buildings will be pulled down to make way for the supermarket and the committee also granted outline permission for new homes on the site which will probably be residential apartments.
Huddersfield Civic Society chairman David Wyles says the fact that the supermarket was the only firm commitment to come from the committee was “a sad reflection on the council’s ability to improve the town.”
He added: “It reflects badly on a council that aspires to make Huddersfield a great place to live by creating high quality spaces and breathing life back into our historic buildings.
Mr Wyles said the application had become so complicated it was virtually impossible for the committee to make decisions on it all.
He added: “The application was part detailed, part outline, with an extensive number of plans and alterations since being submitted in 2018, making it almost impossible to determine how to deal with the complexity of a hybrid application. In truth, the application should not have been accepted in the first place.
“Perhaps, though, the greatest concern is that no priority or timescale has been given for the restoration and re-use of the infirmary and adjoining listed buildings. The applicant has purely indicated a sum for ‘patching up’ the infirmary and measures to protect it from vandalism.
“It appears that, apart from demolishing vacant and vandalised buildings, the only public benefit gained from a site, vacant since 2014, is a supermarket of little architectural merit. Nothing else is likely to progress, if at all, for some years to come.”
Huddersfield Civic Society fears that if Lidl does build a new supermarket it could shut its other one about a quarter-of-a-mile away down Huddersfield ring road which would leave another site vacant and vulnerable to vandalism.
This one has a rich cultural heritage as it is the former Ivanhoes Nightclub where notorious punk rockers the Sex Pistols played their last ever UK gig on Christmas Day 1977. Before that it was the Grand Picture Theatre.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content Andy Hirst who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR https://ah-pr.com/ specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.