Creating a new £17m leisure development in the heart of Huddersfield will help regenerate one of the “poorer” retail areas of the town, it is claimed.
Kingsgate owner WD Huddersfield has submitted plans for Kingsgate Leisure – a development comprising nine leisure/restaurant units and a multi-screen cinema linked to the existing shopping centre.
Details of the plans are now on Kirklees Council’s website and include a report by the scheme architects making the case for the development to get the go-ahead.
The proposals include demolishing three listed buildings at 20, 22, and 24 Cross Church Street – which is in a Conservation Area – to provide a new entrance to the four-level development. The new entrance will replicate the “drum” entrance to the Kingsgate shopping centre at the corner of King Street and Cross Church Street.
A report by architects Covell Matthews argued that the shop units to go “are not rare nor particularly significant in their own right” and that the justification for their loss was “wholly exceptional.”
The report said: “The proposal will have a major impact on the use and economic vitality of the town centre. Town centres are constantly changing and this proposal will considerably strengthen the commercial offer in the heart of the town centre which is now focusing on the Kingsgate Centre.
“There is no multi-screen cinema/restaurant leisure facility in the town and this proposal introduces in a most sustainable way additional life and vitality into a section of the town which, though close to the ‘heart’ of the commercial centre, is presently rather run down.
“Without a major intervention such as this the area will continue to deteriorate. This proposal recognises and strengthens the streetscape importance of Cross Church Street in the Conservation Area with a design which is sympathetic to the proportion, scale and use of materials of the existing buildings.”
The report said that – together with the improvements now underway at the nearby Packhorse Centre – Kingsgate Leisure would lift the retail and leisure offer at “the poorer end of the retail market in Huddersfield.”
The Kingsgate Leisure plan is over four levels and includes a 22,000sq ft multi-screen cinema on the top floor as well as nine leisure/restaurant units together totalling 83,000sq ft. Seven of those units would be at street level and link to the existing Kingsgate shopping mall with two more on the first floor.
An escalator will take customers to the cinema while stairs and a lift will also be installed.
WD Huddersfield first unveiled proposals for Kingsgate Leisure in October last year when the intention was to provide six themed restaurants and a multiplex cinema.
At the time, the company said the scheme could create up to 150 jobs and would help boost Huddersfield’s evening economy by encouraging people to linger in the town centre after work for a meal and take in a film.
WD Huddersfield aims to start work on the development site in late 2016 and to open it about 18 months later.
Details of the proposals are on the Kirklees Council website.