GOVERNMENT adviser English Heritage has stepped into the growing row over Kirklees Council’s use of Chinese granite in Huddersfield’s historic St George’s Square.
The Government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment is warning against using Chinese granite in the Victorian square, which is in a conservation area and fronted by significant listed buildings, including the grade-one listed station.
Kirklees Council is installing 750 tonnes of the stone in the square as part of a £4m revamp, ripping up Victorian-style setts installed in a refurbishment 16 years ago.
Kathryn Gibson of English Heritage has written to the council expressing concerns about the use of Chinese granite which has cost £215,000.
She said: “St George’s Square is an important public space in Huddersfield and is fronted by a number of significant listed buildings.
“It is important that any work relates well to these buildings and reinforces their historic context and local distinctiveness.
“We are concerned that the use of granite setts will introduce a non-conforming material into the Huddersfield conservation area and will be detrimental to the setting of the railway station.”
Ms Gibson recommended using local stone instead. She said: “There is not an historic precedent for the use of granite setts in Huddersfield.
“We understand the concerns of the council in terms of durability and public safety associated with the use of traditional Victorian stone setts. However, modern natural yorkstone products are available that would counter these problems while maintaining continuity of surface materials.
“We therefore recommend that natural yorkstone to match the adjoining stone surfacing materials should be substituted for granite setts and channels in any approved scheme.”
Clr Christine Stanfield supported the stance of English Heritage.
The Lindley Lib Dem said: “St George’s Square is the centrepiece of Huddersfield and the first thing which people see when they arrive by train.
“To risk ruining the appearance of the area by ignoring the guidance of English Heritage and introducing a material which might not fit in is an unnecessary gamble.”
Clr Ken Sims, member for regeneration on the council’s Tory Cabinet, which includes no members from central Huddersfield wards, defended the appearance of the Chinese granite.
He said: “There’s already pink marble in the square and has been for a number of years. When the new stone has weathered it will all look the same.”