March 2023 —

Aerial view of Our Cultural Heart masterplan

Proposals for Kirklees Council’s £210m Cultural Heart development, which is set to transform the heart of Huddersfield town centre, were approved by the Local Planning Authority today.

With approval now secured, construction of the first phase of the scheme is set to get underway in Spring 2024. Initial works will concentrate on the major refurbishments of the historic Queensgate Market, as well as the creation of a brand-new outdoor public square.

The Grade II Listed Queensgate Market building will be sensitively adapted to become a vibrant food hall, with space for around ten independent food stalls. Centred around large communal seating areas, the food hall will be a new social focal point for the town centre and will help provide activity in the area throughout the day and into the evening.

Within the same building will be a new contemporary library venue. Designed with the town’s community needs in mind, this flexible, glass-fronted building will feature group meeting amenities, quiet breakout rooms, a dedicated children’s area, a local history room, computer facilities and more.

Once complete, a special event space and terrace on the top floor of the library will look out over the scheme’s landmark new public square – an attractive outdoor space with water features that will double up as a destination for community and cultural events and will look out over the park.

To enable these initial works, a section of the existing Piazza building along Princess Alexandra Walk will need to be demolished. The remainder of the Piazza building will stay in place until demolition is required to progress work onsite, with units including Boots and WHSmith also staying open during this period.

Leader of Kirklees Council, Councillor Shabir Pandor, said:

“Today is a significant milestone for the future of Huddersfield town centre. Our Cultural Heart project is a transformational scheme that will, alongside our wider Huddersfield Blueprint plans, provide a huge boost to our local economy and existing businesses.

“The Cultural Heart is all about delivering genuine long-term community assets, where friends and families can gather, relax and socialise. We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and we understand that times are challenging right now for many. This reinforces our ambition to grow our town centre offer and give people more reasons to visit and spend time here. The public square, food hall, museum and library will be amazing new spaces that provide free and low-cost activities – ultimately bringing our diverse community closer together.”

Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said:

“We’re delighted that our plans to deliver the Cultural Heart have been approved. A lot of hard work has gone into this project. I’d like to thank the project team involved and also all the members of the public who took the time to share their comments on the plans, helping us to shape the final design.

“Construction of the scheme will be phased and work is already underway to appoint a principle construction contractor. Various site surveys and preparation works will be completed throughout 2023, with work getting underway in earnest early in 2024.”

The first phase of the scheme is projected to complete in Spring 2026. Following this, work will get underway on delivering a new family-friendly urban park, a state-of-the-art museum and gallery, a mixed-use building to help bridge the park and Queen Street divide, and finally, a new multi-purpose live entertainment venue with a 350-space car park.