£12m retail and homes plan revealed for second stage of Northgate House scheme

Artist drawing of what Northgate House and the former Halifax library could look like
Artist drawing of what Northgate House and the former Halifax library could look like

Retail and office space and around 40 homes are being planned by Calderdale Council in an £11.87 million scheme for the Northgate House site in Halifax town centre.

Around £3 million funding to move the project forward is being sought from West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s West Yorkshire and York Investment Committee when it meets at Wellington House, Leeds, next Tuesday, June 5 (11am).

To see the project through to completion, Calderdale Council will secure £8.87 million from prudential borrowing and capital investment.

Described as a critical, central location within Halifax, the mixed use proposed for the site, formerly council offices, is described as “a good fit” for the authority’s Strategic Economic Plan.

The project would not be deliverable or financially viable without the public sector investment funding, says a report to the committee.

“The project aims to provide economic growth and employment opportunities for the residents of Calderdale.

“This ‘good growth’ combines innovation and productivity with more and better jobs, improved skills and career progression for all,” it says.

The council is also working to deliver a new Sixth Form College with enough capacity for more than 600 students on the former library site also at Northgate – but funding for this element is not part of Tuesday’s bid for cash from the Local Growth Fund.

In all, the Northgate project will look to deliver 770 square metres of retail space, 1,900 square metres of office floor space and 40 apartments – likely to be 20 one-bed and 20 two-bed homes.

It could also create 336 jobs and safeguard construction jobs, according to the brief.

Improvements to the town centre – such as The Piece Hall scheme – are driving increased confidence among businesses to invest in Halifax, says the report outlining the business case for funding.

Strategically the time is right to regenerate the site on the back of positivity about Halifax generated by The Piece Hall and Central Library and Archive schemes.

Although appraisal evidence show Halifax is a “challenging” one for business and retail, the scheme is manageable and the needs of the new Sixth Form College would allow retail users to be identified.

Economically it carries some risk but professional independent advice in an appraisal carried out by banking group BNP Paribas supports this mixed use approach for the project which would be managed through Calderdale Council’s major project team.

However further detailed cost appraisals will be required when the project moves to outline or full business case stage, the latter including finalised costs.

The committee is asked to recommend to the authority that the project moves forward to full business case stage, gives approval for £3 million to be given from the Local Growth Fund (previously a £1.3 million loan had been approved), and approves amendment of £300,000 already given as part of that total from an interest free loan to grant funding.