Specialist Halifax sixth form college plan for Northgate House and former library site

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

A scheme has been revealed for a new specialist Halifax sixth form college on the site of the former central library in the town centre.

Calderdale Council's Cabinet will consider the preferred option to transform the former library building and the side wing of Northgate House into a high quality sixth form college.

If the decision is approved, officers would explore options for the remainder of the Northgate complex with interested parties, and finalise feasibility work to ensure final approvals are given in early 2018.

The site consists of Northgate House, which is currently used as Council offices and the former Halifax Central Library and Archive, which has now moved to its new site next to the Piece Hall.

Cabinet will also consider a range of potential uses for the site, including commercial, residential, retail, leisure and education but the preferred option is for a new college.

The new college would offer 600 places for post-16 students in the centre of Halifax and could be open to students by Autumn 2019.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Councillor Tim Swift said: “This is a key moment for Calderdale, helping us to deliver our ambition to make sure every young person has the opportunity to receive a high quality education within the borough.

“In recent years we have made a detailed study into the most effective options for post-16 education. A sixth form college, we believe, would support student choice and provide better outcomes for young people, in addition to that offered by our existing schools.

“A new sixth form college in Halifax would help us to retain talented and skilled young people locally by providing a greater range of courses, whilst at the same time increasing footfall and consumer spending in the town centre.”

The Council needs to find an extra 675 secondary school places by September 2018.

The Cabinet will also be asked to recommend to Full Council that the remaining 150 places for 11-16 year old pupils required in the Upper Valley, will be met by an expansion of Calder High School.

If the sixth form option is approved by the Cabinet, and by Full Council, officers will be instructed to work up the scheme further, including a more detailed financial appraisal, in partnership with Trinity Academy, Sowerby Bridge High School and Rastrick Academy.

It was revealed in May this year that major regeneration plan to turn Northgate House and Halifax Central library into a retail complex has been scrapped.

In a capital programme monitoring report that will go before Calderdale Council's Cabinet on Monday, it revealed an update and an options paper is set to go before councillors.

Following a competitive tendering exercise Calderdale Council entered into an option agreement (development) with Leeds-based Oakapple Group to spearhead a retail development in 2015.

The firm released artists impressions of the site and work was scheduled on the site in early to mid -2017. Units have been advertised to buy and to let by Walker Singleton.

However the contact was terminated due to Oakapple putting forward an alternative scheme due to the units not being taken up.

A spokesperson for Calderdale Council said:that Oakapple made significant efforts but were ultimately unsuccessful in securing the pre-lets which would have made the scheme at Northgate viable, at the scale which they originally planned.

As Oakapple’s revised scheme was significantly smaller to the one accepted by the Council in the 2015 tender process, the Council could not allow it to be taken forward.