IT is one of the country’s most distinguished town squares yet BT has been accused of spoiling it by erecting a Tardis-style “monstrosity”.
St George’s Square is home to a plethora of outstanding buildings including the Grade I listed railway station whose frontage was described by John Betjeman as the most splendid in England.
But BT Payphones appeared to have given the architectural jewels short shrift when it came to replacing the existing telephone kiosk.
And now they have put in a retrospective planning application.
Critics claim that BT installed the combined public payphone and ATM cash machine kiosk without consultation and to the dismay of everyone from the local civic society to English Heritage inspectors.
In addition, West Yorkshire Police say its “proximity to major roads and escape routes in numerous directions will contribute to make this ATM a prime target for criminals.”
Jayne Pearson from the council’s investment and regeneration service said: “The Square is our prime event space where we take great pride in maintaining the high standards of events to make sure that what we hold does respect the architecture of the space.
“This retrospective application for the ATM/phone box in this space has no regard to the architectural importance and status of the Square, aside from the fact that it is an unwanted and unattractive addition to the streetscape of George’s Square.
“If the public want to access money then there is a facility available in the railway station.
“This structure is opportunistic and considered totally unsuitable in the Square.”
The council’s conservation and design officer, Charles Smith, added: “The proposal will cause harm to the setting of designated heritage assets and the character and appearance of the Huddersfield town centre conservation area.
“St George’s Square is the masterpiece of 19th century town planning in Huddersfield.
“The inter-relationship of the quality of buildings and public realm is critical to its architectural and historic significance.
“It is therefore deserving of high quality design within the public realm.
“The proposed combined payphone and ATM cash machine is crudely designed and employs poor, unsympathetic materials that do not relate to its traditional context.
“The previously existing public telephone kiosk on this site, although not sympathetic to its setting, was less imposing than the structure proposed in the current application.”
And John Lockwood, former vice-chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society said: “I think it’s appalling, it’s alien. I came off the train from Leeds the other day and there was this monstrosity.”
A BT Payphones spokeswoman said yesterday: “We’re expecting a reply to our planning application tomorrow.
“We have discussed the location of the kiosk with the police and would of course agree to provide additional security measures if required.
“We have not received any other questions or objections made directly to us.
“However, if Kirklees Council object to the installation, we’ll be happy to discuss this with them.”