PROF CEDRIC CULLINGFORD asks if the major schemes for Huddersfield are all too piecemeal
WE are going through a time of significant change and huge potential for Huddersfield.
The reasons for this are many. There is a lot of money waiting to be spent, including many grants from different sources.
There is an awareness that other regional centres are investing heavily in regeneration and that Huddersfield is not keeping up.
There is also a growing awareness of the potential of the town, and that its future depends on how it is treated.
The question is whether it can be made into a place that people want to visit, whether to shop, listen to music or enjoy all that is visually worthwhile.
There are a number of schemes that are vying for attention.
There are those on the periphery of the ring road, like the development of the Waterfront and the university area changes, which will make a crucial impact on the centre.
Most of the plans, however, affect the core that lies within the defining ring road.
There are the Queensgate plans, the Kingsgate extensions, the refurbishment of St Peter's Square and St George's Square and the reuse of a large warehouse by the station.
And there are indications that Tesco wants to move and that the Post Office wants to relinquish its hold on its main building.
Added to all these plans are further questions of great importance.
What kind of new library does the town want to have? Can there not be an impressive art gallery that could display more of the permanent holdings, as well as mount exhibitions?
Are the concert venues adequate? Could not more be made of events such as the Contemporary Music Festival?
Are there spaces for large gatherings?
The potential is there for a major renewal of the town, which affects every part of the centre and which includes details as well as buildings and sites such as the St Peter's building.
The question of communication, knowing what is where, and transport, the visual impact of every corner, the fabric and the signs all play a part in the vision for the future.
The problem is that all these proposals are presented to us piecemeal. Indeed, we are even offered rival schemes, not only quarrelling with each other but demonstrating neglect of other parts of the town which, presumably, can be left to decay through neglect.
There have been occasions when the idea of an overall strategy was considered, but now the different schemes, perhaps all equally worthy, are being played with, as if they were party politics, as if when one person is for something, somebody else has the duty to undermine it.
The danger of all this is that what the town could end up with will be small, apologetic, another whimper.
As in the case of St George's Square, what could have been a major development, a transport hub on one side of the station and a real meeting place in the square itself, has ended up as a tiny mouse of a change.
Of course, we know the reasons; getting people to agree is difficult, But is it beyond the wit of mankind? Is it simply easier to leave everything as it is and fade away?
* To join the Civic Society contact Michael Barron, 11 Prestwich Drive, Fixby Park, Huddersfield, HD2 2NU. email@example.com