Kirklees Council could take action to secure the future of the deteriorating grade II* Huddersfield Infirmary building which is at risk after the possible collapse of plans for the old Kirklees College site.
Council documents have revealed that a £43 million scheme to demolish the vandal-hit college building in Trinity Street, Huddersfield, and replace it with a Lidl supermarket and up to 244 apartments was effectively dead in the water.
The scheme by Trinity One LLP was given planning permission last February subject to developers signing a legal agreement with the council to secure the future of the historic infirmary building and a grade II-listed statue of King Edward VII.
A report to next week’s Strategic Planning Committee says that no agreement has been reached. Councillors are being recommended to refuse the scheme and issue an Urgent Works Notice to preserve the infirmary building from further deterioration.
The report says it advised the developers of “urgent repair works” – including making the roof weathertight and securing and boarding the building – in February but these have not been carried out.
The council is keen to see the old 1970s college buildings demolished but wants to negotiate to ensure the Huddersfield Infirmary building is protected and restored as much as possible. The main building could be offices with apartments in the two wings.
Trinity One LLP, the company behind the scheme, says build costs have “spiralled” over the last 12 months with “market uncertainty” and “reduced bank funding availability” meaning they would have to sell off part of the site to Lidl and the proposed new-build apartments before spending an estimated £400,000 to shore up the infirmary building.
Councillors previously criticised the design of the proposed Lidl store with Clr Nigel Patrick saying it looked like a “large cow shed.”
Trinity One says they have now improved the design and say the scheme will bring wider economic benefits as well as restoring an eyesore site on the edge of the town centre.
Kirklees College shut in 2013 and the site has been a repeated target for vandals and arsonists.
Trinity One says 222 jobs will be created in the construction with 40 jobs at Lidl. More residents in the town centre would also mean more spend in local shops and “Lidl will pay business rates on their property and this income can be re-invested by the council.”
A letter from Trinity One says: “This site presents a major regeneration opportunity for the council with significant benefits.
“Through the regeneration and sustainable development of this site a more vibrant and attractive environment will be created at the western gateway to Huddersfield town centre.
“Along with investments proposed by the council themselves, the schemes could be a catalyst for further inward investment in the town.
“With a consent in November 2021, change could begin as soon as January 2022 sending out renewed and positive messages about the town in the New Year.”
Trinity One said demolition and site clearance works costing £1.65 million could start in January with Lidl on site in the summer.
Planners, however, aren’t convinced and say there are “insufficient public benefits” to outweigh the substantial harm caused to the historic infirmary building.
Councillors will have the final say on Thursday.