A TEAM of consultants to examine development plans for Huddersfield - including the library and art gallery - have been named today.
The four consultants have been asked to consider multi-million pound plans for the town centre which could see the library building disappear.
Kirklees Council chiefs have appointed the team as part of a huge consultation process over the sweeping plans.
One of the members is Laurence Antill, of Antill Consulting, which was involved in the Kingsgate shopping centre scheme in Huddersfield. The company is a retail and development consultant.
Mike Somers, of Summers-Inman, construction and property consultants, and Andrew Ogg and Richard Green, from Leslie Jones Architects, form the rest of the panel.
Clr John Smithson, council Cabinet member with responsibility for education and recreation and deputy leader of the council, said the team was looking at the development in its entirety.
Today, a firm was also expected to be chosen which would look at the library in isolation.
A survey will be carried out giving an idea of how much repairs to that building would cost.
"It gives us a marker on the amount of money we think we are going to have to spend so we take it from there," said Clr Smithson.
Those estimated costings will then go to the feasibility team as part of its report on the overall project.
"The architects we have, have national reputations with schemes of this nature and they will come up with the options," said Clr Smithson.
But there are concerns that the consultants are not from firms specialising in heritage or conservation architecture in general.
In a letter to Clr Jean Calvert, lead member of the council's overview and scrutiny panel for culture and leisure, critic Mr Chris Marsden, of Lamb Hall Road, Mount, suggests the lack of conservation experts endangers the future of the Huddersfield's Northern Deco library and art gallery, which could be flattened.
He believes the team will simply focus on the commercial aspects of any scheme and not heritage issues.
"The people and businesses involved are experts in shopping centre development, shop letting, quantity surveying and private finance initiatives."
Mr Ogg is the vice-president of the British Council of Shopping Centres and chairman of its Shopping Centre Management Conference Committee.
"This missing expertise on the consultant team and the resultant undue emphasis on retail expertise and private finance initiatives interest of the consultant team, can only militate against the survival of the library and art gallery," said Mr Marsden.
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