SOME redevelopment plans for Huddersfield town centre have been hit by the recession – but it’s full steam ahead at the train station.
Councillors heard yesterday (Tuesday) how ambitious plans for Queensgate and Manchester Road have been delayed by the economic downturn, but there was better news about Huddersfield Railway Station, which is in line for a major upgrade.
Principal development manager Peter Steniulis told Kirklees Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel for Regeneration about plans for the station.
He said: “Network Rail is planning to install lifts at the station subway this year and has also applied for funding to build a Platform 9 to allow new services to be put on.
“There is also the possibility of extending Platform 5 to allow it to handle longer trains.”
But the news about the vacant St George’s Warehouse on the far side of the station was not good.
Mr Steniulis told councillors that plans by owners HD1 to build offices and shops in the warehouse had been hit by the recession. He said: “Up until the recession, rental values in Huddersfield were rising to the point where the scheme was reaching viability.
“One would expect that in due course tenant interest in the building would increase again and there would be an incentive to develop it.”
But Clr Peter McBride told the scrutiny meeting that Kirklees may have to step in to make sure the long-vacant warehouse is put to use.
The Dalton Labour man said: “There’s an incentive for us to use a compulsory purchase order on it.”
Mr Steniulis also updated councillors on the Waterfront Quarter plan for a triangle of land between Manchester Road, Chapel Hill and the River Colne.
Kirklees College wants to move from New North Road to a £70m new campus on the site. The Waterfront Quarter plan, which also includes three blocks of flats and four offices buildings, would create 2,000 jobs.
But the plan has been put in doubt because of a funding crisis at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
Mr Steniulis said: “Kirklees College is lobbying the Government on this and there will be a meeting with the LSC later this week.”
Fellow development officer Andrew Jackson updated the scrutiny panel on the Queensgate Revival proposal.
The £200m plan takes in the Market Hall, its multi-storey car park, the former Co-operative store and buildings on New Street. The proposal includes a new library, a three-storey department store, 100-bed hotel, 100 homes, a new market hall, bars, restaurants and up to 900 parking spaces.
But Mr Jackson said a deal would not be signed until next year at the earliest.
He said: “We will not go out for a development partner this year. The prudent approach is to hold out until 2010. It’s better to do these things when the market is rising.”
Mr Jackson added that Queensgate Revival was vital to the town’s future. He said: “If we don’t do something in Huddersfield in the next few years we will be severely disadvantaged when the redevelopments in Wakefield and Bradford are completed.”