Huddersfield Unlimited, the business-led organisation that stands for the town of Huddersfield, has come out in support of the proposed plans for the development of Huddersfield’s Cultural Heart but believes there is more to be done to ensure this ‘once in a generation’ investment is leveraged effectively to attract a wealth of new, independent retail and leisure businesses to our town.
The organisation welcomes the Cultural Heart’s new design and is confident it will make a significant difference to the centre of the town, solidly laying the foundations that are vital to draw people back in for both work and leisure activities. However, in supporting the proposals, Huddersfield Unlimited is urging due consideration is given to some potential issues, before they arise, to ensure the Cultural Heart’s design can deliver on its full potential.
Jason Whitworth, Chair of Huddersfield Unlimited’s Property Group said: “The Cultural Heart development represents a fantastic opportunity for Huddersfield to be a great home for a number of new and existing leading independent businesses, encouraging both residents and visitors to stay and enjoy the events and entertainment that will be presented across the Heart.
“It is a real ‘Field of dreams’ moment and now that the Council has unveiled these ambitious plans, we want to see a wider conversation to ensure the Heart acts as a platform to really fire up the town’s future, building momentum for investment that will draw more people into the Town”
Huddersfield Unlimited believes the proposed scheme is a hugely significant public investment for the town and a unique opportunity to draw in new retail and leisure around the Cultural Quarter. Therefore, the organisation is urging the Council to develop real incentives for new investment by independent retail and hospitality businesses, so the money spent on rebuilding really does bring new life to the centre. It will support any initiatives that make Huddersfield the place where independent businesses can prosper and attract visitors from across the whole region.
The fact the new design will provide replacement car parking for the Cultural Quarter is particularly pleasing to Huddersfield Unlimited, as secure, and accessible parking is as vital for any leisure destination as good public transport access is.
A crucial area of interest for Huddersfield Unlimited is that the right operator is found for the Cultural Heart’s performance space, as obviously, this will be fundamental to the scheme delivering full impact as a destination venue, to attract people into the town centre for entertainment and leisure, especially in the evenings. The organisation would like to see the operator, Kirklees Council, Huddersfield BID and West Yorkshire Police collaborate fully to ensure the final design and its operation provide a safe and welcoming environment for all.
The ring road still presents a significant barrier between the main University campus and the town, and Huddersfield Unlimited would encourage further attention be given to how this separation can be minimised or overcome for pedestrians.
Huddersfield Unlimited does, however, believe the proposed scheme now deals well with the gradient between the present Princess Alexandra Walk and the University, but the organisation is keen to see the creative street design used in that area to mitigate the real risk of creating an exposed open space that becomes most unwelcoming in inclement weather. The quality and use of the public spaces created by the design will be vital.
For more information on how Huddersfield Unlimited is supporting business and investment in the town, visit: https://www.huddersfieldunlimited.co.uk/what-we-do/