Construction crews let YorkshireLive inside to see progress nine months since our last visit. The regeneration of Huddersfield’s derelict Co-op building into luxury student flats remains on course to be completed before next autumn, senior figures in charge of the build have insisted.
Major structural work undertaken at the site on New Street is nearing completion, meaning the 138 apartments making up the bulk of the build can begin to take shape. The roof of the original building has been removed to make way for a concrete deck which will support the three extra floors due to be built in the coming months. SKA Developments, working alongside the Big Red Group, say the project is on track to be launched in July 2021, with a view to welcoming students just in time for the 2021/22 academic year.
Saj Pervaiz, financial director for SKA Developments, said students could expect a “high standard of living” when the finished building, dubbed Renaissance Works, is completed and he insisted the coronavirus pandemic has not put too big a dent in the project’s timeline.
“Covid-19 has caused us a few issues but we’ve managed to keep the numbers of the workforce low and keep them compliant in order to carry on with the work,” he said.
“Where other construction firms took a bit of a downturn we just kept on going from strength to strength and kept the build on track. This is going to be the flagship for SK Developments.”
Mike Lomas, group management director of The Big Red Group, admitted disruption to their supply chain was the biggest challenge presented by the pandemic.
“As construction continued, our material supply chain dried up, so we had wagons going off to Hull and various places to pick up materials,” he said.
“That was a very big challenge but luckily with the resource and resilience of the Big Red team we managed to not harm the build too much.
“The timeline of the project is to be ready for the intake of next year’s students, which is still achievable. We have a great team that continues to fight to get it done.”
Jason McCartney, MP for Colne Valley, was also given a tour of the project and hailed the new-build as a potential “catalyst” for Huddersfield town centre.
“I’m hugely impressed, this is exactly the kind of quality development that Huddersfield needs,” he said.
“We have two quality local organisations coming together here to build something that the whole town can be truly proud of. Huddersfield is on the up and this is just the start of a fantastic journey for our town.”
Mr McCartney added that a larger student presence in the town centre could add a big boost to the local economy.
“With 138 new apartments there will be students living in them who will then be looking to buy clothes locally and go to cafes and restaurants. It will be the catalyst for regenerating the town centre.
“Almost everyone I speak to about Huddersfield wants their town centre to be regenerated – they want it buzzing.
“But it becomes buzzing, not by holding onto some form of old retail, but by making it live again.
“It’s an exciting time. I’m so pleased and so impressed by everything that Mike and the SK Developments team are achieving here,” he added.