Kirklees Council has set out the scale of its 20-year vision for what it describes as the “most exciting economic development opportunity” in Yorkshire.
The Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor, between Huddersfield Railway Station and the John Smith’s Stadium, is aimed at bringing highly-skilled, well-paid jobs to the town.
The corridor, centred around the University of Huddersfield’s £250 million National Health Innovation Campus, will have a high quality urban design.
Kirklees Council says it will use planning controls to ensure it won’t become an ‘industrial estate with sheds’ populated by low-end retail jobs.
The council’s draft masterplan, approved by Cabinet, was presented at a meeting of the regeneration scrutiny panel.
Cabinet member for regeneration Clr Graham Turner said the council had previously been too short-term in its planning and this was a long-term vision.
“This could take up to 10 years,” he said. “There’s no shovel in the ground.”
The TransPennine Route Upgrade, which will see electrification of the lines and an internal re-construction of Huddersfield Railway Station, is seen as a gamechanger and the council wants to build on that £1.5 billion investment in public transport.
Part of the scheme was the creation of a new Huddersfield Market on the site of the existing open market in Northumberland Street but an £18 million bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund was rejected last week.
The council has started speaking to major landowners about its vision. These include the council itself; the University of Huddersfield; Kirklees College; Network Rail; Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd – owner of the John Smith’s Stadium; Cummins Turbo Technologies; and John L Brierley which owns Turnbridge Mills.
The meeting was told that all the landowners were “broadly supportive” and the next stage would be to go out to public consultation in the Spring of this year.
A draft masterplan has been drawn up but the meeting was told nothing was set in stone. The masterplan was described as an “aspiration that could evolve over time.”
The masterplan is also likely to be impacted by the future ownership of the John Smith’s Stadium. In December senior council officers were given the authority to open negotiations with Huddersfield Town over taking a long-term lease on the stadium, giving the football club ‘operational control.’
Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd also has control over a derelict former gasworks site in Gasworks Street behind the stadium.
It had been bought several years ago as car parking for the ill-fated HD One hotel and leisure complex.
This land has been wanted for some time by Kirklees Council and is now seen as a key part of its Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor.
A report to the scrutiny panel revealed that the council expected to take ownership of the land in 2023.
It also disclosed that a mystery “third party who wishes to remain anonymous” had made an “unsolicited offer” to buy the site. The council rejected the offer as the use “does not fit the draft masterplan.”
Clr Turner added: “The Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor is a strategically important development for the area and I would urge the public to be involved as and when they can.
“Our work with key stakeholders for this scheme has been building over the last few years as we are determined to bring forward something that our local community can be proud of.
“This is an exciting next step for an ambitious long-term project that will bring potentially transformative benefits to Kirklees and the wider region in terms of jobs and investment.”