Entrepreneur Prof Graham Leslie CBE has backed Kirklees Council’s plans to improve Holmfirth town centre, saying the current road layout is “potentially dangerous.”

The founder of pharmaceutical company Galpharm and the driving force behind the construction of the John Smith’s Stadium is passionate about seeing investment into Holmfirth.

Kirklees Council has allocated £1.5m to improve Holmfirth town centre, as part of its Small Centres Funding.

The funding aims to build on the £3.9m investment already being planned by the council in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority through the Holmfirth Town Centre Access Plan.

Prof Leslie has strong connections to Holmfirth, his daughter and son-in-law own Holmfirth bar Oscars, and he personally owns a building on the south side of Victoria Street, one of the roads which will see the biggest improvements.

READ MORE: How Kirklees Council wants to ‘re-purpose’ Holmfirth town centre

Prof Leslie said: “Holmfirth is a lovely town, and worthy of investment. However, its popularity means it’s also a busy one, the congestion caused by the current road layout is not only frustrating for local businesses and visitors but also potentially dangerous.

“The planned wider footways and river view walkways will make sure everyone can enjoy a safe visit to the town.

“We need to make sure our little town is fit for the future. This means we need adequate parking for all types of vehicles including electric cars and e-bikes, as well as free flowing traffic system that makes it a more pleasurable place to spend time.

Holmfirth town centre: Pic by: SEAN DOYLE

“I’m also excited to see what will happen with the planned event space and new market offer. This can only add to the town’s appeal in years to come, bringing more residents and visitors into town to enjoy our local independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.

“We all know that any investment and regeneration require the right infrastructure so starting with the roads makes perfect sense. By getting the roads right you have a solid foundation for future investments to be successful.

“The council and combined authority are making a significant investment in the town because they, like the residents and businesses that call it home, value its cultural and creative heritage.

“I am sure that what little disruption the changes will cause in the short term will be worth it, especially when we see the increased vibrancy and further investment over the coming years.”

The Holmfirth Town Centre Access Plan includes the demolition of the former market hall building and extension of the adjacent Huddersfield Road car park to improve disabled access and the layout of parking bays.

The new car park will also have ability to host events and markets. Three new footways between Huddersfield Road and Hollowgate will improve movement through the town, and a new wider deck across the river will supply improved views and opportunities for more event space, cycle parking and seating.

Holmfirth town centre: Pic by: SEAN DOYLE

Kirklees Council says as well as reducing congestion and journey times the scheme has a number of other environmental additions including new electric vehicle charging points for cars and e-bikes.

The council is now asking the public how the £1.5m should be spent. The engagement is taking place in person in the town centre and online until October 15 at http://www.yourvoiceholmfirth.org.uk

Council leader Shabir Pandor said: “I am looking forward to hearing residents’ views on Holmfirth and would encourage them to take the time to get involved in the engagement process.  This is an exciting time for regeneration in Kirklees.

“It’s important that local people are at the heart of our decision making and that we work together to maximise the benefits for towns like Holmfirth and Kirklees as a whole.”