Kirklees Council has approved plans for three 40ft tall steel planters – or “street trees” – in Huddersfield town centre despite concerns from West Yorkshire Police and Huddersfield Civic Society.

The planters, described as “elegant pieces of public art”, will be installed in New Street. They will have plants growing up and around them and will resemble giant trees.

Police were concerned about anti-social behaviour and people attempting to climb the structures and also the potential for the planters to create CCTV blind spots.

The Civic Society weren’t convinced the structures were in-keeping with the street scene and the nearby listed buildings, and warned they could become “tatty” if not properly maintained.

The council’s Cabinet backed plans to turn New Street into a “green street” in 2019 and now detailed planning permission has been granted for the designs.

The three planters will be positioned at the end of New Street outside the Yorkshire Building Society and either side of the Market Avenue arcade.

New Street and last weekend’s international market

Each of the planters have a slightly different design, based on the themes of contours, waterways and commerce.

Contours represents the contours and topography of the Huddersfield landscape, Waterways the ‘thread’ of rivers and canals and Commerce the ‘thread’ of industry and technology.

The planters are made of powder-coated rings of mild steel set in a pre-cast concrete base. In colour they will be white with a touch of grey.

The police voiced concerns but the council said “anti-climb” measures would ensure people couldn’t gain hand or footholds at the bottom of the planters and a “new CCTV design” would be agreed before any works started to ensure coverage was not impeded.

Huddersfield Civic Society had reservations about the planters and said they were “not convinced” that the designs were compatible with the architecture of New Street.

The design and scale of the planters

The society pointed out the “neglected” state of existing planters and street furniture in the town centre and warned the council needed to have a plan and a budget to maintain the new structures.

The council’s Conservation Team said the planters represented “elegant structural form” and were of a “high quality design and materials” which would “complement the architectural and historic character” of New Street.

They described them as “street trees” with vegetation growing out of them which would “introduce a greater level of greenery within the street than currently exists.”