Building work has started on the former fire station, swimming pool and Council offices on Hollins Mill Lane, Sowerby Bridge, to give them a new lease of life and create a range of facilities for people.
Calderdale Council and the Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water community group are working together to develop the hub.
Councillor Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Strategy, said: “We know how much Sowerby Bridge’s heritage features mean to local people, visitors, our economy and Calderdale’s distinctive story. We want to make the best use of these historic features, along with a range of other improvements, to boost what is already a vibrant high street.
“The High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme will help achieve this, and we’re delighted to reach a major milestone in this work as construction gets underway on the exciting Fire & Water community hub.
“We are fortunate to have really passionate community partners who share our commitment to build strong and sustainable towns as part of our inclusive economic recovery.”
A share of Calderdale’s £2 million grant from the government’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, delivered by Historic England, is going towards funding the work.
The national High Streets Heritage Action Zones programme is a £95 million government-funded initiative led by Historic England and designed to secure lasting improvements to historic high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery and breathing new life into them for future generations.
Construction work for the Fire & Water building includes bringing the three main blocks along Hollins Mill Lane up to a standard where they can be used for as many community activities as possible.
Windows and floors will be replaced, repairs made, disabled toilets added to all three floors, a Changing Places facility and a new fire escape created, underfloor heating installed and powered by a climate-friendly air source heat pump, plus many other alterations and improvements. New steel beams are now in place and construction of the first toilets is well underway.
Phil Hawdon, Chair of Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water, said: “Fire & Water has a very big dream, and whilst our DIY volunteers have successfully carried out lots of work, and continue to do so, this is the first big phase and it’s great to see it progressing daily.
“So, after over 11 years of commitment to Fire & Water and the Sowerby Bridge community, with hundreds of small scale and a number of large scale events under our belts, we are rapidly moving toward the time when we can widen our outreach and offer so much more to the town and its residents and groups. It’s a great stage to have reached and Sowerby Bridge well deserves it.”
The Council is also working with Historic England and local communities on other HSHAZ schemes in Sowerby Bridge to revive disused buildings, restore local historic character, improve public areas and increase footfall during the day.
The HSHAZ-funded work complements the ongoing development of the Sowerby Bridge masterplan, which is being produced with the community-led Sowerby Bridge Town Development Board and aims to improve the transport network, create more green spaces, reduce the risk of flooding and encourage more walking and cycling to help tackle the climate emergency and boost people’s health and wellbeing.
Craig Broadwith, from Historic England, said: "It’s wonderful news that work is now underway on Fire & Water Community Hub. This is an important initial step towards reinvigorating the area and unlocking its full potential, helping to create an attractive and thriving town centre.”
Sowerby Bridge High Street Heritage Action Zone is a partnership between Historic England and Calderdale Council, together with Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water to revitalise our high street through heritage, culture and community. To find out the latest news visit www.sowerbybridgehshaz.org.uk and join us on social media.
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