Huddersfield Gem
Detail of ceiling and interior sculpture

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||| Press Release 9 June 2008 |||
Plans butcher Huddersfield's Queensgate Market

Queensgate Market Hall will be butchered if Kirklees Council's current planning application gets approval.

The council's Queensgate Revival scheme proposes demolition of over 1/3 of the listed building in order to build a shopping mall through the building.

The market would be pushed upstairs onto an unsuitable first floor site above new shop units that will carve up the dramatic space that is currently roofed with the famous sculptural hyperbolic paraboloid shells.

The 1970 building was listed grade II in August 2005 and was awarded the Concrete Societyís Certificate of Excellence for a mature structure in November 2007.

Huddersfield Gem co-founder and architect, Adrian Evans said:
"It is of great concern that the owners, Kirklees Council propose to demolish over 1/3 of the building in order to build a ordinary shopping mall.

"This miserable proposal dishonours the most dramatic and original English post-war public building of its time.

"It is time that the unique qualities of the building are recognised by its owners and due care be given to ensure that it is preserved and developed sensitively.

"It is the market hallís light and airy feeling that the unique roof structures create that is at risk.

"The significance of the listed building includes amongst other features the internal and external sculptures, the uninterrupted suspended glazing and the fantastic shell roofs."
The current application fails to appreciate the significance of Fritz Stellerís acclaimed ceramic sculpture that is on the Queensgate elevation. The work celebrates the structure, arrangement and function of Queensgate market. The proposal is confused about the components of the sculpture and proposes the demolition of some of it. This is completely unacceptable.

The application pays no account to Fritz Steller's internal steel relief sculpture "Commerce" that illustrates the role of the market in local life.

The construction of a new retail block to the south would cause great loss of light in winter and put the market hall in shade and by being built out over the ring road it would obscure the view of the shells over the Queensgate elevation.

Huddersfield Gem co-ordinator, Christopher Marsden said:
"All the stakeholders should look for regeneration proposals that celebrate and make best use of this unique and beautiful structure."
Architecturally the proposals are unsatisfying, with little sense of place, ambiguous articulation of form and fairly limited response to external functions. There is no attempt to consider the potential redesign of the public space in order to†improve the setting of†the town hall. In fact the massive new library chunk does the opposite. †

The proposal for a new library, with the old one being retained for commercial and leisure purposes dooms the listed library to unsympathetic use. The application is clearly focussed to trying to get as much commercial activity down to street level - i.e. shops, with other functions shoved upstairs. This scheme simply doesn't recognise the multifaceted role of civic space and public buildings. Everything is pared down to the lowest common denominator - shopping.

At least there is some acknowledgement that public open space is valuable and that there are certain links with other places that should be maintained.

Huddersfield Gem welcomes the proposed facade retention of the 1937 Co-operative extension on the corner of New Street and Queensgate and its return to retail use at ground level. Huddersfield Gem will be keen to look at the details.

Huddersfield Gem calls for:
  1. The refusal of this application.
  2. Kirklees Council to ask The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to consider the Queensgate proposals as part of their design review service 1.
  3. A town centre planning process to develop an intelligent and holistic understanding of its heritage and its potential for development.
  4. A Heritage Champion being appointed by Kirklees Council, as asked for by English Heritage 2.
  5. Kirklees Council forming a design review panel.
  6. A design competition to be held when a clear brief has been developed.

What they said about Queensgate Market
Notes for editors
  1. See About CABE - Design Review Panels

    CABE states:
    We encourage local planning authorities to consult CABE as early as possible on schemes that are significant in some way (see also paragraph 76 of DCLG Circular 1/2006). Significance is difficult to define precisely because it is not necessarily related to the size of a project, its location or type. Guidance on what is significant is set out below. This guidance will be kept under review in the light of experience.

    1. Proposals which are significant because of their size or the uses they contain
      This category includes:
      • Large buildings or groups of buildings such as courts, large religious buildings, museums or art galleries, hospitals, shopping and leisure complexes, mixed use schemes and office or commercial buildings
      • Major infrastructure projects such as stations, airports and other transport interchanges, bridges, power stations and substantial waste plants
      • Major changes in the public realm such as pedestrianisation schemes or proposals to create or enhance public spaces, parks and civic open space, and
      • Large-scale master plans, including spatial planning policies, design codes and other forms of design guidance for large sites or areas.
    2. Proposals which are significant because of their site
      This category includes proposals which:
      • affect sensitive important views or are sited in such a way that they give rise to exceptional effects on their locality
      • are of particular regional or local significance, and
      • are the subject of major public investment.
    3. Proposals which are significant as they have an importance greater than their size, use or site would suggest
      This category includes proposals which:
      • are likely to establish the planning, form or architectural quality for future large scale development or re-development
      • are out of the ordinary in their context or setting because of their scale, form, materials or surroundings
      • are particularly relevant to the quality of everyday life and contain design features which, if repeated, would offer substantial benefits for society or, conversely, detriments, and
      • are unusual or test cases which are likely to set precedents for national policy.

    Pursuant to its powers under the Act, CABE may ask to see proposals it considers significant even where applications have not been formally referred.
  2. See Why your authority should appoint a Heritage Champion

    English Heritage states:
    Local authorities are essential to the protection and management of England's historic environment. Over 150 authorities have now recognised the benefits of appointing a Heritage Champion and have asked an elected Member to undertake the role. They have been involved in a wide range of activities and projects, and have enabled their local authority to make much better use of the historic environment resources at their disposal.

    Local Authority Heritage Champions have demonstrated that they can:

    • Help unlock the untapped cultural, social and economic potential of the local historic environment
    • Provide leadership for heritage issues within the authority
    • Join up policy between departments across the local authority and ensure the historic environment is taken into account in the development of all the authorityís policies, plans and forward strategies
    • Develop a close working relationship with the Design Champion, ensuring that the authority has a seamless and coherent approach to the built and historic environment
    • Promote the cultural heritage of everybody in the local community
    • Identify opportunities for the authority to use the historic environment in the pursuit of its wider corporate objectives.

Huddersfield Gem aims to study, promote and ensure the future of the Queensgate Market Hall and the Huddersfield Co-operative extension. Gem will work in partnership with other groups and organisations to identify the best options for the buildings and users.
Hypars at night from the ring road

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