Kirklees Council is pushing ahead with plans to demolish Holmfirth Market Hall and “re-purpose the town centre” despite continued opposition.
The council decided in 2018 that the market hall was “no longer financially viable” but held off the bulldozers to see if any community groups wanted to take on the market rights.
Now, with money to spend from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the council is pressing on with its £3.9 million Holmfirth Town Centre Access Plan.
Part of the scheme includes changes to town centre roads which the council says will ease congestion and speed up journey times.
The council has now submitted a planning application to demolish the market hall building and extend the adjacent Huddersfield Road car park to include a public event space.
As well as plans for a new car park, the council plans to add three new footways between Huddersfield Road and Hollowgate to improve movement through the town.
It is also proposed that the bridge over the River Holme will be replaced with a wider deck providing improved views of the river and opportunities for additional event space, cycle parking and seating.
Clr Shabir Pandor, leader of Kirklees Council, said: “I am pleased that we are moving forward with our plans for Holmfirth town centre.
“These proposals will re-purpose the town centre, making it a vibrant place to be and will enhance the areas for festivals. It will provide much-needed improvements for pedestrians, whilst still improving traffic flow through the area.
“Holmfirth is one of the many places in Kirklees that attracts large numbers of visitors. We are confident that these changes will improve the experience of the town centre for residents and visitors alike.”
In only a few days the plans have attracted objections on the council’s planning website.
One says: “I am of the view that there was a public consultation process undertaken, part of which included the demolition of the market hall. This proposal which was to demolish the hall and turn it into a road received significant objection.
“The way I view this is that it is an attempt to continue with the previous plan. I am sure that the council will say that the market hall is under-utilised, a liability and all sorts of other negative terms.
“This is due to chronic under-investment in assets for public good. If the market hall was fit for purpose and inviting I am sure that it would be used. As is, it is not inviting and not used to its full potential as an asset.
“Replacing it with more parking, although possibly needed, also sends the wrong message. The previous proposal was to help to decrease and redirect traffic yet this one is to increase it.
“There will only be a matter of time before a traffic survey is undertaken and the ‘need’ for a new road in place of the car park.
“I find this a deceitful way of trying to make changes where the money would for demolition and building a car park would be better used creating and enhancing a community asset.”
Others called for the market hall to stay. One says: “Demolishing the market entirely would be a great loss to the town and no comparable alternative site seems to be available.”
Another added: “Why is the council so intent on knocking down this building? Holmfirth needs its market Hall. It needs to be saved and improved as a hub of the community.”
Another objector wrote: “In the current climate, when we are looking for environmentally friendly solutions, demolition should never be the first option, particularly for one of the very few public buildings in the area.
“This would be more understandable if there was a significant gain in parking spaces. But a gain of 10 spaces in exchange for the asset of the market building seems like a very bad trade off for the local population. Holmfirth is a market town and the removal of its only market building would be a crying shame.”
Another objector said: “Holmfirth is becoming such a desolate town with businesses closing, empty buildings etc. The council needs to be looking at improving surroundings and increasing business.
“What is the point of more car parking when there is nothing for the public to visit?”
The planning application is now open to view on the Kirklees Planning Portal under the planning reference 2021/62/92946/W.
The application is open for public comment until August 31 and the anticipated decision date is September 15.