Plans to turn St Peter’s Gardens into a new ‘multi-functional events space’ have moved a step closer.

Huddersfield Parish Church was granted planning permission in October 2020 and last year secured funding worth £350,000 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, via West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Next week Kirklees Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve a grant to the church of £121,900 meaning £471,900 will be used to deliver Phase A of the project to create a multi-use events space adjacent to the church and within the gardens.

St Peter’s Gardens has been notorious for anti-social behaviour in recent years and only last month police carried out a ‘knife sweep’ to search the gardens for hidden weapons.

The St Peter’s area is one of six key parts of the town centre which Kirklees Council wants to regenerate under the Huddersfield Blueprint. It is also seen as part of the strategically-important Station to Stadium Corridor, running between Huddersfield Railway Station and the John Smith’s Stadium.

The council already has plans to turn the grade II-listed Somerset Buildings, across from the gardens, into high quality apartments. It is working with social housing developer Thirteen Group on plans for both Somerset Buildings and Estate Buildings.

Huddersfield Parish Church and St Peter’s Gardens

The church is also seeking funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for works to the church building which includes opening up the north-west door of the church which faces directly onto St Peter’s Gardens.

The area immediately in front of the church would become the event space for such as church fetes, outdoor worship, music concerts or arts and craft exhibitions.

The plans would also involve moving 14 gravestones and a large table tomb in memory of architect and builder Joseph Kaye, the man responsible for many of the town’s finest buildings, closer to the church.

A report to the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday April 11 says: “The re-development of St Peter’s Gardens is integral to the delivery of the Huddersfield Blueprint, with its central location to transformative plans for the St Peter’s area.

“The addition of the Station to Stadium Masterplan reinforces the importance of this space in terms of the regeneration of the town.

“St Peter’s Gardens must respond to its challenging physical location and the considerable social, economic and environmental challenges it faces in a balanced and pragmatic way.

“The area is already a favourite of creatives and is home to an interesting and unique set of independent businesses, restaurants, shops, bars and coffee shops as well as the popular Open Market.

“Its enhancement will further contribute to the area’s success and drive inward investment into the town centre.”

The £471k would cover Phase A of the scheme. Phase B would involve a feasibility study to decide what could be done with the rest of the gardens.

Work must have started by October 21 2023 as the three-year planning permission expires on that date.

Vicar of Huddersfield Canon Rev Rachel Firth said there was still much work to be done and the church was still awaiting a decision from the Heritage Lottery Fund on work to the building.

“We are incredibly pleased to be working in partnership with the council to deliver something which will have a significant impact for the people of Huddersfield,” she added.