The 'urgent and essential' plans to give Kirklees buildings a makeover

Kirklees’ historic buildings, leisure centres and a Huddersfield car park are in line for cash injections as Kirklees Council sets out plans for "urgent and essential" works across the borough over the next two years.

The local authority will be putting millions into its buildings and land by 2026, if Cabinet gives the go-ahead on Tuesday, July 9.

Some of the funds will be used to address urgent works including those around health and safety, and other cash used for the refurbishment of some of the borough’s most historic buildings.

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The council is planning to invest in its Town Hall estate, Dewsbury Mansion House, Oakwell Hall and the Tolson Museum over the next two years to address “essential works” and “maintain and protect” Kirklees’ heritage.

Under the plans, £705,641 will be spent on the borough's heritage assets in 2024/25, and a further £2.95m in 2025/26.

It was already apparent that the borough's town halls were in need of some TLC, with each having a backlog of maintenance projected to cost between £4m and £20m.

The borough’s eight Kirklees Active Leisure-run leisure centres are set for a boost of around £1m by the end of the 2025/26 financial year, which the council says will keep the facilities in good condition and ensure future provision.

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Adult Services Care Homes, Children’s Homes, Children Centres and Libraries are among the other sites in line for investment, as is The Walsh Building in Dewsbury - where the town’s Customer Service Centre is currently located.

According to the report, major refurbishment of Huddersfield’s Upperhead Row Bus Station car park is planned to start in Autumn and will span six to nine months.

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The council says these works will extend the life of the car park by 10 to 15 years and that this project is a precursor to the wider project to revamp Huddersfield Bus Station next year.

Once the Upperhead Row car park has been improved, essential repairs will get underway at the car park beneath the Civic Centre 1 Piazza.

Part of the budget will be used for fire safety work, primarily across council offices, commercial property and buildings leased to third parties. This follows extensive fire safety improvements across the council’s Children’s Homes and Aged Person’s Homes.

Just over £7.8m will be spent over the next two years on works addressing “urgent condition and health and safety issues” across a range of buildings.

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These include replacement roofs, external weatherproofing, new boilers, replacement cremators, electrical rewires, supporting walls, structures and lighting.

The council says that demolition is in-line for buildings that have reached the end of their life, with this to make savings and provide potential sites for development.

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However, the report doesn't state which buildings are set to be torn down and the council could not provide a response by the time of publication.

The report states: “As a major land and building owner, the Council’s aims and ambitions go beyond simply delivering buildings that are warm, dry, safe and secure.

“We aim to add value and to utilise land holdings and properties to achieve our vision for Kirklees, which is to be a district which combines a strong, sustainable economy with a high quality of life – leading to thriving communities, growing businesses, high prosperity and low inequality where people enjoy better health and high-quality services throughout their lives.

“How we use our significant land and buildings portfolio can have a major impact on economic growth, regeneration and health and wellbeing, whilst helping to contribute to the Council achieving its Climate Emergency commitments.”