By KLTV Newsdesk
The Huddersfield Blueprint regeneration vision has been given a major funding boost, with a £2 million grant secured to help deliver the George Hotel’s transformation into the new National Rugby League Museum.
Kirklees Council has been successful in its bid to Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone funding.
The £95 million government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme, which is delivered by Historic England, aims to help high streets, fueling economic, social and cultural recovery.
The £2 million that Kirklees has been granted is the largest of any Yorkshire council.
It will help fund the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed George Hotel – which is set to become the new National Rugby League Museum.
The funds will also be put towards the former Estates Buildings which are also Grade II-listed.
This is in addition to the £1.4million in funding already secured from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to carry out the first phase of renovation works to the George Hotel.
On 22 September 2020, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet approved a £100million investment which aims to deliver key town-centre regeneration projects as part of the Huddersfield and Dewsbury Blueprint plans.
Councillor Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “With the decline in the retail offer and the continued drop in footfall through most towns, we have to change the role of the town centre.
“In St George’s Square, the National Rugby League Museum will be a real centre-piece for our Huddersfield Blueprint regeneration plans and will draw people into the town from far and wide to celebrate the history of the sport and Huddersfield as a place.”
Cllr McBride noted that the George Hotel is widely known as the birthplace of Rugby League and a key part of Huddersfield’s heritage, and is one of the reasons why the council decided to purchase the building.
He added: “Heritage is something that runs right through our regeneration plans and this funding will help us to bring these vacant historic buildings in St George’s Square back into use.
“I’m really pleased we’ve already been able to successfully secure such a significant amount of funding to help us deliver this. It shows that others have confidence in our vision and what it will bring to Huddersfield and Kirklees as a whole.”
There are currently no concrete details on when the regeneration project is set to begin. But both the Huddersfield and Dewsbury Blueprints are set to be longterm multi-year projects.
Councillor Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Greener Kirklees, said: “We have bold and ambitious regeneration plans for not just Huddersfield but the whole of Kirklees.
“As we look to build thriving modern-day town centres, a common theme throughout our regeneration plans is that they also celebrate our heritage.
“We can no longer rely on retail alone to attract people to our town centres. The George Hotel is the very best example of how we can use our history to help build a successful town centre that’s fit for the future.
“I’m really happy that Historic England recognises what we’re working to achieve and has contributed such a significant amount of funding to help turn this vision into a reality.”
Historic England is a public body that works with communites across the country to protect, champion, and save many historic buildings and environments.
Charles Smith, Acting Regional Director for Historic England in the North East and Yorkshire said: “Our high streets bring people together. They are places to socialise, shop, run businesses and be part of our local community.
“When high streets suffer, as they have done in particular over the past six months, the special character of our historic places and communities suffers too.
“With the funding from the Government, combined with the expertise and passion of local people, Kirklees Council and Historic England, the future of St George’s Square is looking brighter.”