Today Leigh-Anne Stradeski, chief executive of Eureka!, argues the £16m bid by Calderdale Council to transform the Piece Hall needs to succeed for the good of everyone
When I came to Halifax to head up Eureka! 11 years ago, I was incredibly impressed to discover so many wonderful historical buildings, especially one as magnificent as the Piece Hall just across the road.
What surprised me though, was that this tremendous asset appeared to be so under-utilised in terms of its potential to bring benefits to the economy and quality of life of the people living and working in Calderdale.
It was clear to me then, that restoring the Piece Hall to its former glory had to be central to regeneration of the town centre, and over the past decade I’ve been part of many discussions and initiatives to try to move this forward.
I am absolutely delighted, therefore, to see the current proposal which will be put forward for Stage Two approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund early next year.
This proposal will transform the Piece Hall into a hub of activity with retail, catering, and cultural activities at its heart.
With its stunning architecture and colourful history the Piece Hall has the potential to generate enormous interest amongst those with a keen interest in architecture, heritage and social history.
Over and above this, the concept for development of the open courtyard and creative use of this space will provide the perfect platform for a range of exciting events and activities, serving both as an ideal gathering place for the community and a drawing card for tourists.
The buzz that will be created as this begins to take shape should provide a huge boost to the visitor economy, not only of Calderdale but of all of Yorkshire.
The developments which are happening in the areas surrounding the Piece Hall including our own at Eureka!, Halifax Minster, Square Chapel and the Orange Box will all add to the sense of excitement about what is on offer in Halifax and will put us on the map as a leading UK destination.
Eureka!’s plans for the future revolve around building on our successful track record in play-based learning to create an indoor and outdoor experience for children and families that is unparalleled in the UK.
We will be strengthening our physical and programmatic links with our neighbours to help create an integrated experience that will meet the needs of community and visitor alike.
Ideally, we would like visitors to Eureka! who come from outside the region to stay overnight and spend more time in the borough.
At present, there are limited opportunities for complementary activities geared to families with younger children.
The Piece Hall proposal has the potential to change this and we are absolutely delighted to be working with the development team towards this end.
It is so important that as individuals and businesses with a vested interest in Halifax, we work together, provide input and share our views on the development of the Piece Hall.
This is about far more than preserving an historic building - it is about securing long-term economic prosperity and sustainability so that future generations are able to enjoy the benefits of the forward-thinking decisions and plans that we are making today.