Retail giants could be set to move into Halifax as Northgate House and Central Library up for sale

Halifax Central Library and Northgate House.
Halifax Central Library and Northgate House.

Northgate House and the Central Library will officially go up for sale next week to provide a major new shopping centre for Halifax.

Officers are expecting a flurry of bids from developers eager to bring big name stores to the town centre.

There has been controversy over the 1.4 acre site but, after councillors unveiled plans for a new library near Square Chapel, the move to sell the Northgate site can now begin.

The sale process will be run in partnership with propeorty agents DTZ from Monday July 15 as a developer is sought to take the site forward and find a major retailer.

Some names suggested for the new shopping centre have included Primark and Next but that decision will be made further down the line between Calderdale Council and the chosen developer.

James Crawley, Calderdale Council’s lead for corporate projects, told the Courier: “This is a logical site for bigger businesses. We are looking for it to be a retail site and there will be conditions on the type of development - we don’t want it to be food retail.

“We will take expressions of interest later this year and then make an informed decision on which partner we would like to work with. Thsi will then lead on to design and planning before the work gets under way.

Director of economy and environment Ian Gray said: “For its location there is not better site. This is a critical site in the continued growth of the town and we want to make sure we attract people into Halifax from across the region.

“We want to complement the town centre. That is why we have to keep control of the site as long as we can and get an appropriate development.”

Northgate House is currently occupied by council staff but they will be relocated to refurbished council buildings at Westgate House as the local authority moves to reduce its number of town centre offices from 11 to three.

Mr Gray said: “This is about rationalising our estate making sure what it’s about is the economics of the town centre. About moving the town centre forward and bringing more people in and creating jobs.

“This is an evidence based decision we believe is paramount for the development of the town centre. Despite all the recent investment we have to make sure the town grows and doesn’t dry up.”

The council intends to hand over the site in spring 2016 and officers say they will not be moving out of the existing Central Library until the new library is complete.

“We won’t come out of the existing library until the new one is finished. We understand the difficulties about the new library and we don’t want there to be any lack of provision,” said Mr Gray.

This redevelopment would be latest step in a period of regeneration for Halifax which has seen around £100 million invested in the last few years.

The sale of the Northgate site is the next step in an extensive redevelopment programme which also includes the Broad Street Plaza, the £19m transformation of the Piece Hall, the opening of the Orangebox youth complex and the new Customer First Centre in Horton Street.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment, Coun Barry Collins, said: “Our town centre strategy is to make sure that Halifax offers a mixture of leisure, entertainment and retail opportunities to support local businesses by bringing more local people and visitors to the town.

“Reports have told us that Halifax needs larger retailers to attract shoppers and enable smaller independent stores to prosper. The Northgate House and Central Library site is an ideal place to build these new larger shops. It is in a superb location, immediately adjacent to the existing retail and leisure area and close to the town’s car parks and bus station.”

“The Council has already received enquiries from parties interested in buying the site, and we are optimistic about the forthcoming sale.”