Ideas to boost Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres have poured in after an Examiner report earlier this week that Kirklees Council was discussing how to revitalise them.

The most common readers’ recommendation was to have fewer bargain shops and bookmakers, while parking fees also featured prominently among the grumbles.

Many disliked the new changes to the Queensgate market hall multi-storey car park where drivers have to pay in advance rather than at the end. And many felt small traders were put off by business rates too.

But readers also had plenty of good ideas, from more toy shops to a town centre play park, to creating a canal and river zone of restaurants and bars.

Re-vamping the Co-op building was also mentioned by several readers, saying it offered potential for many uses.

Clr Andrew Cooper, whose Newsome ward covers the town centre, said: “The idea to attract families with children is something we’ve pushed for, we think the area outside the bus station would be ideal for a play area and it’s a good idea.

“Town centres should be about more than just retail space and there is a real opportunity to make something out of this.

“You only need to look at the town centre currently with the cultural events linked to the Tour de France to see people will come into the town centre if there are events.”

Clr Cooper also agreed a vision was needed for the Co-op, adding: “It’s had a long history and the proposed extension of the Kingsgate means attention has turned away from it. There was talk of a hotel when things were economically more positive, one thing I’ve seen particularly with the Tour de France going past is it’s been painted to put a gloss on it. It’s a real shame to see a listed building like that fall into disrepair and I agree it needs some attention.”

Former Co-op building on New Street, Huddersfield
Former Co-op building on New Street, Huddersfield
 

He said all groups needed to pull together and added: “There is a real dearth of public money, the council has responsibilities to vulnerable people, for example, so there’s a balance we need to get right,” he added. “But I’m sure the coming together of people interested will help us realise the potential of the town.”

Views from social media:

Simon Matthews: Get rid of the 1960s eyesores like the Civic Centre & do something good with the Co-op. Restore the Victorian buildings. Make the river & canal areas into eating, drinking & leisure venues.

Tanya Stagg: More toy shops please! And children’s shopping boutiques! Rents are too high for small sellers to get a foothold. It’s about time the rents came down and smaller, local places came in.

Sally Clarke: I go to Manchester for shopping trips. Parking is a lot cheaper and there is a massive choice of shops and places to eat. Huddersfield town centre has been in decline for such a long time, and high rents and stupid parking charges (especially the recent change at the multi-storey) are driving away both retailers and customers.

Kirsty Haigh: Encourage the likes of Pizza Express, Zizzis etc by developing the area near the new Kirklees College by the river. Sort the nasty end of town out - where Primark is. We have a stunning building there (old Co-op) which is sat empty going into disrepair. And all this is visible from the ring road could create a fabulous first impression of the town!

Lawrence Edwards: The answer to your high street woes are for you to shop locally! Get off the internet, get off your backsides, go shopping and give the stores a reason to stay open. The ones that are there are struggling already - it’s not too late to show your support for your local environment and put your money back into your community rather than the coffers of online retailers.

Michael Pearson: Most people agree that more free parking would encourage people back into to town. The multi storey car park used to fill up but the expense and revised way to pay have put even more drivers off. Stalls are failing in the market hall and it is even less busy these days. Rents should come down. Pound shops and discount outlets should be discouraged. There are too many charity shops too. The town centre is not an attractive place to be.

Sarah Stewart: A children’s play area with swings etc right in the centre would be lovely.

Ellen V A Ball: Restore and resurrect the Palace Theatre (used to be Society nightclub)! Beautiful Art Deco venue that’s still got loads of its original features/build. Big venue that will be able to host bands and West End touring shows.

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