By Daniel Wood
Kirklees Council is considering a revised plan to build Lidl, flats and offices.
Two failed attempts have already occurred in the redevelopment of the site. The property firm behind the previous two attempts has submitted a new plan to the council.
The crumbling site overlooking Huddersfield ring road has been hampered by its listed status.
An objection to plans was lodged by Historic England to bring a Lidl supermarket and flats to the site on the grounds that it was unhappy with the treatment of the 1831 built Grade 2 listed infirmary.
The plan was undeliverable, as a high-rise building was objected.
Another plan was also thrown out, which aimed to convert the old high-rise towers into flats. Developers were forced to go back to the drawing board.
Tas Ahmed of Rhodes Asset Management revealed that more than £1m was already spent on the site without a single penny returning.
The developers interested in the site have made their ambitions clear. They want all the building removed except the core of the 19th-century infirmary and the statue in front of it.
A Lidl is in the plans, and it would overlook the ring road in the place of the former tower block classrooms. Initially, the high-rise building above it was going to be a hotel, but that idea was scrapped.
The developers also wanted to add an extension to the rear of the infirmary, but that was scaled back.
Historic England’s main concerns have thought to have been eased, as it opens up “lost vistas” of the historic buildings.
A block of apartments or offices would be built on the other side of the site by demolishing some extensions of the 1930s built infirmary. The block would be u-shape and five stories high.
A facelift would be given to the infirmary to make it more presentable, and it will be converted into flats and offices if given the green light.
The proposal is said to have a far greater chance of being approved than the previous two attempts.
John Stonard from Historic England said: “The regeneration of the former Huddersfield Infirmary offers an important opportunity in the development of Huddersfield town centre and we support the principle of redeveloping the site.
“We welcome the changes to the previous proposed scheme but whilst we do not object to the current revised proposal, we do have some concerns around the loss of historic buildings – in particular block G of the Infirmary.”
Huddersfield Civic society is against the idea of the proposed Lidl supermarket and car parking at “one of the most prominent sites within Huddersfield.”
It commented: “As it stands any approval would be a retrograde step for the town and severely question the council’s commitment to its own Blueprint and its ability to positively promote high standards of architecture and design.”
Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, has urged that the council is committed to supporting the developer to find a suitable solution. They want to protect the heritage of the site.