COUNCILLORS poured scorn on the design of a multi-million pound college campus – before granting it planning permission.
Kirklees College’s proposed £85m development on Manchester Road was derided yesterday as “awful”, “nondescript” and “an atrocity” by councillors who just minutes later voted for it to go ahead.
College vice-principal Steve Scarr told the council’s Huddersfield Planning Sub-committee that funding would be lost unless the plan was given the green light straight away.
Kirklees College won outline planning permission two years ago for the campus on a triangle of land between Manchester Road, Chapel Hill and the River Colne to replace its base on New North Road.
But yesterday the sub-committee was asked to give planning permission for appearance and landscaping.
The design includes:
A nine-storey block of classrooms clad in grey metal and using large amounts of glass to maximise natural light
A covered street with a partially-glazed roof linking the college with Manchester Road
A cube-shaped learning resource centre with dark grey cladding
The main block, which would be “wrapped around” the learning resource centre
However, the plan was harshly criticised at yesterday’s meeting.
Frank O’Brien from Huddersfield Civic Society said: “There’s no sense of local identity there. We’re going to end up with a looming block of cladding which will overbear Folly Hall.”
Kirkburton Conservative Clr Christine Smith – who voted in favour of the plan – said: “I’ve never seen such an atrocity. It looks like a prison at the front and a shoe-box at the bottom.
“There’s no flair in this design at all.”
Crosland Moor and Netherton Labour woman Clr Molly Walton – who voted in favour of the plan – said: “The design is very nondescript.”
Almondbury Lib Dem Clr Ann Denham – who voted in favour of the plan – said: “It looks absolutely awful.”
They made their comments just after Mr Scarr explained that any delay would mean the college would lose funding from the Government.
Kirklees College was one of only a handful of colleges whose plans were given the green light last year following a cash crisis at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
Mr Scarr said: “Huddersfield was one of very few survivors of the radical cut backs. The LSC has informed us that any further delays will mean the money will be relayed to other colleges in England.”
He added: “We believe this will be a landmark building for Huddersfield, a state-of-the-art building for the 21st Century.”
The sub-committee voted 11 to two in favour of the plan, with only Almondbury Lib Dem Clr Linda Wilkinson and Greenhead Labour man Clr Mohan Sokhal voting against.
The campus, which will form the centrepiece of a wider development known as the Waterfront Quarter, will open to students in 2012.