HISTORIC Victorian buildings in Huddersfield town centre could be demolished and replaced with a car park.
Plans have emerged to knock down an entire block containing the 1889-built St Peter’s Buildings and a 1960s tower block, formerly home to the YMCA.
The block, bordered by Northumberland Street, St Peter’s Street, Primitive Street and Lord Street would be flattened to make way for a 68-space open ground car park.
The proposal is within Huddersfield Town Centre Conservation Area and surrounded by a number of listed buildings.
The ageing buildings, formerly home to Huddersfield Polytechnic and also the site of one of the town’s first Chinese restaurants, the Hong Kong, have been empty for some time and have been stripped of their internal metal fittings and wiring by thieves.
They were purchased in 2006 by Yorkshire Forward, the now defunct regional development agency, with a view to developing another site for start up businesses alongside the successful Media Centre.
The project never came to fruition and a further plan for 68 flats on the site was withdrawn in 2007.
Yorkshire Forward’s partner developer eventually walked away in 2009 amid planning difficulties and the economic downturn.
After Yorkshire Forward was scrapped, ownership of the site was transferred to the government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) who have now revealed their demolition plan.
It is thought revamping the existing site would be economically unviable with an estimated £11m price tag.
And the HCA says removing just the 1960s building would leave them with a negative land value of -£1.9m to -£2.7m.
In contrast pulling the entire site down will cost just £¾m and could encourage another developer to come on board later down the line.
In the meantime the HCA hopes to recoup some cash using the site as a temporary car park.
In its application documents, the HCA admits the Victorian Sunday School part of the St Peter’s Buildings are of “medium’ conservation significance.
But chairman of Huddersfield Civic Society, Christopher Marsden, said they were likely to oppose the plan and said he objected to the term.
“It’s either significant or it isn’t,” he said.
“I think there will be some reluctance to lose the Victorian building.
“I would contend that area would be diminished by the loss of the Sunday School buildings – I think it is an asset to the streetscape.
“To demolish it for a car park would seem a great loss.”
No-one from the HCA was available for comment.
A demolition plan submitted with the application shows the buildings would be taken down piece by piece, with asbestos and pigeon waste being removed before men moved in to dismantle it from the top down.