By Oliver Thompson
Kirklees Council’s redevelopment of the former Co-op building is underway as part of the Blueprint Vision.
Work is now underway to convert a listed building in the centre of Huddersfield into student accommodation.
The council have announced that it’s working with SKA Property to transform the former Co-op building on New Street into student accommodation – a major project outlined in the Huddersfield Blueprint vision.
Councillors granted SKA planning permission in April 2018 to renovate the building and add a contemporary extension to the existing roof. The scheme states that the building can accommodate 134 beds – which will be a mix of en-suite studios, clusters of rooms with communal facilities and 1 and 2-bed apartments across 7 floors.
Cllr Peter McBridge, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The building which is located within the Huddersfield Town Centre Conservation Area at the corner of New Street and Queensgate (Huddersfield Ring Road) is currently in a poor condition which has a negative impact on this part of the town centre.
“The redevelopment of this historic building is an important step forward in delivering the first stage of the council’s Blueprint, and creates an exciting opportunity to bring the building back to life and into use – supporting our vision to create a thriving, modern-day town centre.”
The History of the Co-op Building
The Co-operative movement was new in Huddersfield when the first store was opened in 1860, early on it struggled to make a significant impact with members of the committee frequently walking in and out of the store to give the impression to the public that there were plenty of customers.
In 1887, the movement gathered momentum and gained greater publicity as an impressive new store was built on the corner of Buxton Road and Princess Street. A giant green dome that we see today was erected in 1894, the clock tower was added in 1905 and in 1936 the extension was built.
The building dates back to 1936 and officially opened in 1937. Its chief architect was W.A Johnson and it was considered revolutionary in its design for a commercial building of the time.
On opening day, local newspaper the Daily Examiner described the building as “entirely modern in design and equipped on the most up-to-date lines-a stone of which the townspeople generally, and co-operators in particular, can be proud.”
In its early days, it continued to be a Co-op, but other uses include a radio station, music school and in recent times a nightclub called Heaven & Hell.
In 2007, Kirklees Council bought the building for £2.1m as part of their Queensgate Revival plan, but due to economic factors, the plans were never materialised.
The music school moved consequently moved out and it has remained empty ever since.