Huddersfield's town centre needs to be a place to live, work, play, learn and shop.

And Kirklees Council’s lead member for investment and regeneration says we “should not try to compete with Leeds or Manchester, we should try to be a really strong town”.

Clr Peter McBride led a debate among 11 of the 21 members of the Huddersfield District Committee who attended Tuesday’s public meeting.

He believes Kirklees as a whole needs to play on its key asset – its location.

Clr McBride said: “From a strategic point of view, Huddersfield is in a brilliant position halfway between Leeds and Manchester. Our regional connectivity is even greater with the link to Sheffield.

“What is crucially important is access, our connection to the M62, plus when Network Rail electrify the trans-Pennine rail line we will be even more crucially important.

“Dewsbury is exactly half way along the M62, within 10 miles in any direction and you’ve got Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Wakefield, but transport is a major problem for Dewsbury because it is difficult in terms of accessibility. We are trying to do something about that at West Yorkshire level, but it demonstrates what Huddersfield has got.”

The Labour councillor said location, commerce and education were Huddersfield’s strengths.

Future plans will see more residential space, a potential new smaller supermarket, free WIFI and railway station improvements.


Clr McBride said: “We have beautiful, wonderful buildings in the town centre, we don’t preserve them by listing them, we preserve them by using them.”

Events such as the Festival of Light and Food and Drink Festival are proven to attract people from the suburbs and into the town centre, but he warned: “Can we afford these events? We have to weigh up that on the one hand and the huge cuts in essential services we have to make.”

Andrew Jackson, Kirklees regeneration officer, said vacant retail units stood at 12%, with many of them 750sqft. He said a 700sqft unit is marketed as a kiosk, so there were not many options for big high street names.

Clr Andrew Cooper Green, urged Kirklees to have a vision for the town centre, coming up with the ‘live, work, play, learn and shop’ line.

Clr Erin Hill, Labour, said they needed to forge closer links with students, saying her recent attendance at a freshers fair highlighted students’ willingness to be involved.

Chris Marsden, of Huddersfield Civic Society, defended the use of listing a building, saying: “Listing does not stop change, it’s to give protection.”