The authority has launched The Huddersfield Blueprint vision as it looks to encourage more people into the centre of the West Yorkshire town in an era when online shopping is posing a challenge to the high street.
At its core are plans for a new ‘Cultural Heart’ including a live music venue, with capacity for up to 1,000 people as well as studios and tuition space, which is expected to be completed by 2023.
The council’s vision for the cultural zone, in the Piazza and Queensgate area, also features a library, art gallery and museum, supported by restaurants, bars, cafes, the Lawrence Batley Theatre and a large open space.
Within that area, the Market Hall car park could also be used for a hotel or youth zone.
Authority leader Coun Shabir Pandor said: “We’re committed to seeing our economies thrive and these plans set out how Huddersfield will become a vibrant, family-focused town centre with something for everyone to enjoy.
“Town centres are changing. Whilst we remain committed to ensuring we have a good retail offer throughout Kirklees, more people are now shopping online and the challenge is to develop a different kind of offer to encourage more people into town centres. This means having culture and leisure offers such as theatre, cinema, art and live music.
“The extra visitors will boost business for the existing, diverse local restaurants, bars and cafes in Huddersfield and encourage new ones to open.”
According to the council, the blueprint, launched on Wednesday evening, focuses on regenerating six key areas, with a view to keeping the town centre “open for longer”, celebrating Huddersfield’s heritage and breathing life back into its historic buildings, supporting new and existing businesses and introducing more homes.
It aims to deliver a “vibrant culture, art, leisure and nightlife offer”, improved access and enhanced public spaces and make the town centre “a great place to live”.
“Huddersfield’s new vibrant ‘Cultural Heart’ will be a catalyst for change in the town and is the most iconic vision within The Blueprint,” masterplan documents state.
Elsewhere, the ‘Station Gateway’ is also earmarked for regeneration. Facilities at the railway station could be improved, including new cafes, restaurants and retail outlets, to coincide with the future Trans-Penine Route rail upgrade. Meanwhile, the upper floors of the nearby St George’s warehouse could be converted into office space, apartments or a hotel.
An area already home to independent businesses, bars and coffee shops, alongside Huddersfield’s open market, will be dubbed the creative zone. The vision for development there could see the formation of co-working spaces and studios within historic buildings and the creation of new homes.
Other focuses elsewhere in the centre include the planned introduction of a cinema and leisure complex into Kingsgate Shopping Centre, and improvements to the bus station, with new food and drink outlets and pop up shops.
The council says funding for the scheme would come from its own pot, as well as national government, private investors and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Coun Peter McBride, Kirklees Council’s deputy leader, said: “Huddersfield is a remarkable place to live, work and invest but it has even more potential and with this Blueprint for the town centre, we’re aiming high.
“Huddersfield will be a family-friendly town centre that attracts people from far and wide with its famous Cultural Heart, a place with theatre, art, music and more all in one place.
“We want to better connect the town centre, making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists and improved train and bus stations with better facilities will make Huddersfield a key destination. More town centre homes will add an energy to the town centre.”
People are being asked for their views on the blueprint in a three month consultation. To view the plans and for more information, visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/HuddersfieldBlueprint