Kingsgate’s long awaited extension has finally been given the green light.
Ten years after plans first emerged, councillors have given the £100m scheme the thumbs up.
Kingsgate bosses say they want to make Huddersfield the “dominant retail destination” in the region.
Most of the extension is to create leisure facilities, including a multi-screen cinema and restaurants.
Work could start in late 2017 with customers welcomed in time for Christmas 2019.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Kingsgate chief, Peter Everest, has revealed the extension project will now allow further multi-million-pound improvements to the shopping centre to take place.
Speaking moments after Kirklees councillors unanimously voted to give him permission, he explained: “This is the process to start Kingsgate as a major regional destination between Leeds and Manchester and that has follow on investments within Kingsgate itself – various shops that we want to expand on or adjust.
“That could increase the number of people employed with us and the scale of the centre.”
Speaking to members of Kirklees Council’s strategic planning committee, he said the leisure element of the centre was crucial for attracting customers and “prestige retailers.”
Councillors and Kirklees officials intend to use the Kingsgate scheme to revive Cross Church Street.
They have secured £185,000 from the firm for improvements to the street scene – which could include pedestrianisation.
Kingsgate bosses have also agreed to pay £40,000 towards some form of public art installation.
The extension – which will create 259 jobs – will largely be hidden behind the current centre.
A new entrance will be created through two existing shops on Cross Church Street.
Plans to install a canopy entrance have been abandoned amid concerns from heritage groups that it did not fit in.
Councillors on the committee unanimously approved the plan.
Clr Carole Pattison said: “The beauty of this scheme is you can’t see it. It’s all enclosed behind existing buildings.
“It will raise the whole stature of Cross Church Street and benefit the whole town centre.”
Clr Andrew Pinnock agreed. “It’s a great scheme,” he said. “It fits in well with what’s around it.”
“This is welcome news for the people of Huddersfield,” said Clr Cathy Scott.
“We’ve got a developer that will help regenerate the town centre.”
Christopher Marsden, chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society, welcomed the design changes that include the use of Yorkshire stone.
He said the group had reservations about the shopping centre’s signs and wanted to be consulted about what public art was erected on Cross Church Street.