Work is to start on making the River Holme more of a feature in Holmfirth town centre.

As part of Kirklees Council’s Holmfirth Blueprint, the river is to be made more prominent and visible for locals and visitors to enjoy.

The Blueprint improvements focus on the town’s former market hall which will be demolished and replaced with an events space and car parking.

But a major part of the scheme involves enhancing the river, opening up views and creating access closer to the water’s edge. The river environment will also be improved.

The preliminary works now underway involve clearing vegetation and allowing access to the river wall. Environmental checks will be carried out and work will be done to ensure the structural integrity of the river wall whilst preserving the surrounding ecosystem.

Throughout this work, the existing river environment is Kirklees Council’s priority. Healthy native plants will be relocated so that they can continue to grow well and thrive in a new environment, promoting environmental stability wherever possible.

A new bat box will also be installed, creating a suitable habitat for bats roosting close to the river during the construction period.

These preliminary works will be completed in collaboration with River Holme Connections and Brooks Ecological Consultants.

Developing public realm in the area will also help people enjoy better views of both the river and Holmfirth’s historic town centre. Work on this area will be the next stage of delivery within the Holmfirth Blueprint.

As work progresses, there may be some impact on local events. Should this be the case, the council will work with organisers to minimise any disruption.

Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for growth and regeneration, said: “It’s fantastic to see the first tangible steps being taken towards delivering the Holmfirth Blueprint – and these preliminary works are contributing to a project which has seen tremendous public support.

“The River Holme gives Holmfirth its name and is already a beautiful feature within the town centre, so it’s unsurprising that putting the river back at the heart of the town is so important to so many.

“At the end of the day, our blueprints are about creating better, more beautiful and more functional centres for local people to enjoy, and they’re also about preserving Kirklees’ beauty and heritage for future generations. I’m very excited to see these plans come to life.”

Clr Masood Ahmed, Cabinet member for environment, said: “Our blueprint plans across Kirklees aren’t just about taking urban centres into the future. They’re also about future-proofing the beauty that’s already there.

“Making sure the existing natural environment around the River Holme is preserved and improved, and that wildlife currently living around the river is well cared for and supported throughout – that’s our priority with this initial work.

“We’re not just improving Holmfirth for local people but for the local environment too.”