A student won a regional award for her ideas on how to improve opportunities for young people in Holmfirth and stop the ‘brain drain’ of talent leaving the town.

Sarah Bradshaw, a third year architecture student at the University of Huddersfield, was one of two regional winners of the Women in Property National Students Award for Yorkshire and the North East.

Key to her success in the awards was an innovative project aimed at improving infrastructure and facilities for young people in Holmfirth.

Sarah said the reality for young people in the town was that transport links were scarce and employment opportunities limited.

Along with several students from her course, Sarah consulted with a range of people in Holmfirth to come up with ideas to regenerate key aspects of the town.

“The main thing people took from us was that we proposed a ‘park and ride’ scheme to help improve transport from Holmfirth to Huddersfield, and to develop Holmfirth’s bus station as a central hub for the town,” said Sarah.

“Another key thing was that young people were leaving the town because there weren’t enough jobs, or enough transportation for access to main towns for jobs or going to university.

“That hub was key for us to give young people the chance to stay in the Holmfirth area but also have that quick link into town or go further afield for work or study.”

Sarah Bradshaw’s design for an eco-hostel

Sarah also came up with an innovative idea for a hostel in the town, one that would not only offer refuge for those needing it but also take the frequency of flooding in the area into account.

Her design included beams made from laminated timber and shipping containers to create a modular structure that could be easily altered.

“The common mindset about a hostel is negative – people go there if they are homeless or for refuge,” Sarah added. “But I wanted to create a space where people are at one with nature, as the site is surrounded by woodland.

“My design used an adaptable structure with slide-out accommodation ‘pods’ made from shipping containers.

“The frame was made from Glulam beams that are an energy-efficient way of laminating timber to make it stronger.

“It was also raised above the ground so water could flow under the building if it did flood, and the containers were varying sizes to accommodate two, four or six people.

“Women In Property said they liked how I had designed it to adapt to the site. There would be flood defences around but if it did flood the building would still be accessible.

“The hostel was designed to relate to nature, but also to respond to the Covid pandemic – by allowing visitors to get away from everyday life and be more in contact with the natural world.”

Sarah’s work was praised by Jon Bush, senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Huddersfield.

“Sarah stood out at her interview for the course as someone with plenty of ideas, initiative, creativity and imagination – all the things you want for a place on an architecture course,” he said.

“She came across as absolutely genuine, enthusiastic and a force to reckoned with in her presentation for the award. She thoroughly deserves it. 

“She is very community-oriented in her approach to architecture, which helped us established rapport with a community group in Holmfirth.

“We thrust the students into Holmfirth to meet the local residents, looking particularly into the fact that Holmfirth is not seen as a place for the young and tasking them to propose ways to address this problem. 

“Sarah was a leading light in that process of consulting with the local population. She came over as genuine, someone who knows what goes on in the world and had things to say to people in Holmfirth.”