A MAJOR project to revitalise the Queensgate area of Huddersfield is targeted to be “open for business” in three to four years, a leading Kirklees councillor claimed today.
Clr Ken Sims, Cabinet member for regeneration, said planning applications for the council-backed Queensgate Revival development would be submitted later this month – and could be complete by 2011 or 2012 subject to planning permission being obtained.
He was responding to claims by bosses at the Kingsgate shopping centre that the Queensgate scheme could take 10 years to get up and running.
Last week, members of the council’s Huddersfield planning sub-committee unanimously rejected an application for a 12,000sq ft extension at Kingsgate after following officers’ advice that an expanded Kingsgate could jeopardise the Queensgate Revival plan.
This week, Kingsgate owner WD Huddersfield Ltd lodged an appeal against the decision – setting the wheels in motion for a public inquiry.
Clr Sims said the Queensgate Revival project would transform a major part of Huddersfield town centre.
And he stressed: “Any delays due to planning enquiries would be the same for any other major proposals planned for the town.”
The Queensgate planning application will cover the market hall, the multi-storey car park and the former Co-operative store and adjoining buildings on New Street.
The plans to be submitted this month include a new library, art gallery and information centre, a three-storey department store and additional shops, a 100-bed hotel, 100 apartments, a new and improved market hall, bars and restaurants, up to 900 parking spaces, improved public and open areas, improved transport, and better pedestrian flows.
A future phase will cover “mixed use” options for the existing library building and upgrading of surrounding public areas.
Clr Sims said: “The council’s Cabinet has authorised officers to finalise and submit planning applications and associated issues within the next few weeks and to secure a development partner.
“We are hopeful that all the planning consents – and any planning inquiry processes – will be out of the way by this time next year, which will then signal the ‘green light’ to progress the scheme and have Queensgate Revival ‘open for business’ within two to three years.
“The Queensgate Revival scheme is a major re-development – the largest the town will have seen. It is much more than a shopping development and is key to the wider regeneration of the town and wider area.”
Clr Sims said: “The consultations carried out on the ‘Queensgate Revival scheme showed overwhelming public support for it and for our wider ambitions to take the town and the Kirklees area forward with a modern, vibrant, robust and thriving regeneration programme.
“There is immense interest from potential investors and retailers who want to be part of the scheme.”
WD Huddersfield said its proposed £50m extension would provide a 75,000sq ft department store and six other retail units.
The proposal includes a new single-level trading mall with a two-level department store linked to the existing centre and the centre’s car park. There will be an extra 190 car parking spaces.
WD Huddersfield has also claimed strong support for the scheme.