PLANS to make sweeping changes to Huddersfield town centre have won the approval of conservation group Huddersfield Gem.
The group was set up to protect Queensgate Market from changes put forward in Kirklees Council's original seven proposals for redeveloping the Piazza and Queensgate area in 2004.
Co-founder Chris Marsden said the new plans - unveiled in the Examiner yesterday - were "audacious".
He added: "They are an interesting outcome from the background of consultation and listing.
"Some of the elements are audacious and imaginative.
"We believe the proposals are worthy of close and careful consideration and public debate."
Some of the council's 2004 proposals suggested demolishing the 1970s market hall.
But Huddersfield Gem felt its unique roof structure of mushroom-shaped supports - called hyperbolic paraboloids - should be preserved, along with the unusual ceramic murals on the ring road side of the building.
The pressure group got the building listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport last year - along with the 1930s Huddersfield Public Library - which limited the changes that could be made.
The council was forced to go back to the drawing board and eventually came up with Queensgate Revival.
This scheme aims to refurbish the market hall in a way that will provide more light and a better view of the roof structure.
There will also be terraces on the outside, connecting to a two-level walkway which will link the market with New Street, the Shambles and King Street.
The library facade will be retained, but the building will be used as shops and a leisure club.
A new gallery and library will be built on the corner of Ramsden Street and Peel Street.
Queensgate multi-storey car park will be demolished and replaced with a department store, some of 170 new flats and some of 60 new shops planned for the scheme.
There will be a 1,350 space car park under the market hall.
A 100-bed hotel is planned for the former Co-operative building on New Street.
A new footbridge - linked to the two-level walkway - will sweep across Queensgate ring road, linking the Piazza to the university campus.
Prof Tim Boatswain, of the university, said they were excited by the plans, particularly the opportunity to physically link the campus to the town centre.
Mr Marsden said he was pleased to see the council had kept features that the public wanted retained.
He said: "Huddersfield Gem has been seeking the market hall's renaissance, the Co-operative façade's retention, a Queensgate bridge and the development of public space.
"It is very encouraging to see these in the scheme.
"The rebuilding of part of the market hall looks particularly challenging, where new structures are incorporated into a period design.
"Huddersfield Gem believes that the careful use of heritage architecture can enhance the townscape and allow the scheme to be of the town and not slide into 'anywhereville' blandness," Mr Marsden added.
He urged people to visit the plans when they go on show at the Public Library on October 16.
Alternatively, they can be viewed online at www.kirklees.gov.uk/queensgate.
People can give their views through the website or by writing to Freepost, Kirklees Talkback, Corporate Development Unit, Civic Centre 3, Huddersfield, HD1 2RP.