A business organisation wants Kirklees Council to offer “real incentives” to encourage independent retail and leisure businesses to invest in Huddersfield as part of the town’s £210m Cultural Heart re-development plan.
Huddersfield Unlimited, the business-led organisation that stands for the town, says the Cultural Heart is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity that must be maximised.
The organisation welcomes the Cultural Heart’s new design and is confident it will make a significant difference and draw people back into the town but says more can be done to encourage outside investment.
Jason Whitworth, chairman of Huddersfield Unlimited’s Property Group, said: “The Cultural Heart development represents a fantastic opportunity for Huddersfield to be a great home for a number of new and existing leading independent businesses, encouraging both residents and visitors to stay and enjoy the events and entertainment that will be presented across the Cultural Heart.
“It is a real ‘Field of Dreams’ moment and now that the council has unveiled these ambitious plans, we want to see a wider conversation to ensure the Cultural Heart acts as a platform to really fire up the town’s future, building momentum for investment that will draw more people into the town.”
Huddersfield Unlimited believes the proposed scheme is a hugely significant public investment for the town and a unique opportunity to draw in new retail and leisure around the Cultural Quarter.
Therefore, the organisation is urging the council to develop “real incentives” for new investment by independent retail and hospitality businesses, so the money spent on rebuilding really does bring new life to the centre.
It will support any initiatives that make Huddersfield the place where independent businesses can prosper and attract visitors from across the whole region.
The fact the new design will provide replacement car parking for the Cultural Quarter is particularly pleasing to Huddersfield Unlimited, as secure and accessible parking is as vital for any leisure destination as good public transport access is.
Huddersfield Unlimited also wants to ensure the right operator is chosen to run the concert and events venue, which it sees as fundamental to the success of the Cultural Heart.
The organisation would like to see the operator, Kirklees Council, Huddersfield BID and West Yorkshire Police collaborate fully to ensure the final design and its operation provides a safe and welcoming environment for all.
The Ring Road still presents a significant barrier between the main University of Huddersfield campus and the town, and Huddersfield Unlimited would encourage further attention be given to how this separation can be minimised or overcome for pedestrians.
Huddersfield Unlimited does, however, believe the proposed scheme now deals well with the gradient between the present Princess Alexandra Walk and the university, but the organisation is keen to see the creative street design used in that area to mitigate the real risk of creating an exposed open space that becomes most unwelcoming in inclement weather. The quality and use of the public spaces created by the design will be vital.
The first phase of public consultation into the Cultural Heart ended in June and a second phase is due to start shortly.
For more information on how Huddersfield Unlimited is supporting business and investment in the town, visit: https://www.huddersfieldunlimited.co.uk/what-we-do/