Kirklees Council has pledged to continue engaging local businesses on a scheme to improve Huddersfield town centre for cycling and walking, as laid out in their ambitious blueprint for the town centre.

The scheme includes a new walking and cycling zone on Queen Street and King Street between the Lawrence Batley Theatre and Zetland Street, and on Cross Church Street between the Kingsgate Shopping Centre entrance and Kirkgate.

Following a lengthy period of consultation and consideration of some last minute objections,  Kirklees Council’s Cabinet Committee Local Issues approved the Traffic Regulation Orders necessary to provide a safe route for cyclists and pedestrians along Queen Street, Cross Church Street and King Street meaning work can continue.

The scheme is being delivered through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, which is aimed at enabling more people to travel by bike or on foot, in partnership with Kirklees Council.

The scheme which is due to be completed summer 2021,  will, when complete, be subject to a traffic regulation order which stops access for all unauthorised motorised vehicles, in order to provide a safer more pleasant experience.

At the meeting the council considered the objections presented by local businesses, which were mostly around access to premises.

They took the opportunity to clarify that an Authorised User Policy is to be developed and adopted by council and once implemented, business requests for access will be considered on a case by case basis in line with the adopted policy. Members also clarified that employees and business owners that hold a blue badge who use off street disabled parking facilities would be exempt from the restrictions and deemed an authorised user.

Authorised users would then gain access by use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify their registration number and automatically lower the bollards.

The bollards will be lowered each day from 6am – 10am and 4pm – 8pm for loading. Hackney carriages will have 24/7 access along Queen Street, King Street and Zetland Street.

The council also addressed concerns around disabled parking, explaining that there are disabled parking spaces on Queen Street prior to the restricted zone.

Exceptions for disabled employees who need to access private car parking will also be allocated through the authorised user scheme.

Cllr Scott, who chaired the meeting, brought the discussion to a close by explaining that this wasn’t a case of making all the decisions today, and that there would be time to work with and support local businesses before the scheme is completed.

Cllr Cathy Scott, Kirklees Council Cabinet Member said: “We need to remember that our town centres are evolving and the way we have done things in the past is likely to be very different in the future. Introducing the restrictions and the development of an authorised user scheme are key steps that enable the scheme to be delivered in line with our objectives for the area, our town centre and the Huddersfield Blueprint. Cross Church Street connects the Cultural Heart to the retail centre and as such needs to reflect the town in the best possible light.

We hope that by addressing the issues raised in the objections we can move forward with the development for the benefit of everyone using the town. However, our officers will continue to be available to discuss individual business concerns whilst the scheme progresses.  The council remains committed to working with the local business community to make Huddersfield a welcoming and accessible town in order to support the local economy and provide opportunities for culture, leisure and retail for people who visit, live or work in the town centre.

This project has received £1.3m from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1billion package of Government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.