Former Ben Shaws and Britvic factory in Birkby could be changed into church and community centre

Rivertree Trust - which runs the Jubilee Centre in Paddock - is looking to expand

The former Huddersfield soft drink manufacturer Ben Shaws, now Britvic Huddersfield premises on Willow Lane, Birkby
The former Huddersfield soft drink manufacturer Ben Shaws, now Britvic Huddersfield premises on Willow Lane, Birkby

A former Huddersfield pop factory could soon become a community centre.

Plans have been unveiled to convert the Birkby site that was home to the famous Ben Shaws brand factory into a multi-use church and  community centre for education and training, a base for youth and community work and potential food and clothing bank.

There could also potentially be a communtiy library, play area for children and health services offered.

The Rivertree Trust, which runs the Jubilee Centre in Paddock, has submitted the application for the Willow Lane site to Kirklees Council for consideration. It was last used as a factory by the Britvic group.

Alison Lloyd, a youth and community worker at the Trust, said demand is growing for the centre’s services and they need to expand.

She said: “The site in Paddock is getting too small as some of our services, like the parent and children Melody Makers, are heaving.

“We are such an organic centre, we offer the services that the community needs rather than having a prescriptive offer. It doesn’t matter if people are rich or poor, we’re here to help where we can.”

The former Huddersfield soft drink manufacturer Ben Shaws, now Britvic Huddersfield premises on Willow Lane, Birkby
The former Huddersfield soft drink manufacturer Ben Shaws, now Britvic Huddersfield premises on Willow Lane, Birkby
 

The Rivertree Trust is seeking planning consent for the change of use of the Britvic factory.

They haven’t ruled out operating from both the Paddock and Birkby site if consent is granted, with a decision still to be made.

Alison added: “We haven’t yet decided if we’ll have two centres. We’d love to have both sites as we want to be open to the community as much as possible - it depends on finances as everything we make goes back to the community.

“We definitely need more room though. The University of the Third Age, orchestras and bands, youth groups and volunteering services all run from here. We also offer support for vulnerable adults and people with mental health issues, whatever people tell us they need we look to support them.”

The Trust has been based in Paddock for more than 19 years and relies on donations from the church and others to offer community services.

Britvic closed the Huddersfield factory last year. It was built by Ben Shaws in 1894 and Britvic acquired the site from Ben Shaws in 2004.

Since its closure last year there has been some interest in the site, but layout and leasehold issues prevented any serious takers.

 
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