CONSERVATIONISTS have criticised a major redevelopment of Huddersfield town centre.
The £200m Queensgate Revival would radically alter the Piazza area.
The site takes in the Market Hall, the multi-storey car park, the former co-operative store and adjoining buildings on New Street.
Kirklees Council’s plan includes a new library, art gallery and information centre, a three-storey department store, 100-bed hotel, 100 residential units, improved new market hall, bars, restaurants, and up to 900 parking spaces.
But Kathryn Gibson of English Heritage expressed concerns about the plan.
She said: “The scheme includes a number of risks including that the Market Hall could lose sections of its original fabric, that the current library building could become vacant and that the redevelopment could be of poor quality and lack local distinctiveness.”
However, in a letter to council planning officers, Ms Gibson also noted a number of benefits to the proposal.
These include securing a sustainable future for the Market Hall, the former court house, St Peter’s School and the old Co-op building and improvements to other listed buildings on Peel Street and New Street.
Ms Gibson also said the proposal would lead to the removal of negative features including the multi-storey car park and the “tired” shop fronts on Peel Street.
The council’s Cabinet member for regeneration Clr Ken Sims said: “I think generally the letter is very positive.
“Ms Gibson talks about a few things she would like to see done differently and the next stage is for us to work with her to see what we can sort out.”
Meanwhile, figures obtained by the Examiner show that Kirklees spent £283,000 developing the Queensgate plan in 2007/08.
The money was spent on a retail impact assessment, design and access statement, planning statement, transport assessment and related drawings. Clr Sims said the spending was “on a par” with major planning applications.