Northgate issue has to be resolved

In Part 2 of our week-long series of Halifax's controversial Northgate development opportunity, Coun Barry Collins puts forward his case for redevelopment. Tomorrow we speak to trader Tracy Harvey

LAST year's controversy settled one thing very clearly: the people of Halifax want their Central Library and Archive to stay together, at Northgate, in the town-centre.

So why is the issue of redevelopment in the area suddenly back on the agenda?

The answer, from the council's point of view, is that it never went away – and somehow we simply have to resolve it.

With local elections looming, it would have been easy to play "politics" and bury the whole problem until after May.

But that would have been wrong. One way or another, the council has to find a solution to the Northgate conundrum that will win broad public support – and the sooner, the better.

The fact is that our principal offices at Northgate House are no longer fit for purpose. So, should we try to keep them ticking over, on a maintenance basis, for another few years?

Should we refurbish them – at an estimated cost of between 13 and 15 million?

Or should we pull them down, relocating staff into other council buildings and opening up the site for potential redevelopment?

These are the immediate questions we face.

What's more, they come at a time of unprecedented pressure from government spending cuts.

And the reason the library/archive enters the financial equation is because it, too, needs either major maintenance work or full refurbishment, again costing several million pounds.

But that's not all. The Northgate issue stretches beyond the buildings along the street frontage.

West Yorkshire Metro tell us that improvement and possible re-alignment of Halifax bus station is now one of their key forward priorities.

Also, just across the road, questions are being asked about the future of the Post Office's sorting building in Gaol Lane.

Add all this together and Halifax has a possible site of almost six and half acres, offering a development opportunity that neighbouring towns could only envy.

No wonder, then, with the Broad Street scheme under way, that national retailers, architects and builders are suddenly looking at Halifax town-centre with new interest.

Suppose a capital receipt from the sale of Northgate House could be re-invested in the Central Library and Archive.

Suppose a balanced new development brought in the stores that might arrest our town's evident retail decline – and satisfy our younger generation of shoppers into the bargain?

We hope people up and down Calderdale will join in to help us make the right decision.

* Join the debate. Email