What now for Northgate House and Halifax Library? Demolition plans in doubt

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

Major doubts surround the future of the Northgate House and Halifax Central Library and if the buidlings will be demolished.

The major regeneration plan to turn the buildings into a retail complex has been scrapped.

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

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: “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, we could not allow it to be taken forward.”

The Council’s Director of Economy and Environment, Mark Thompson, also said the council could proceed with the alternative plan.

“Oakapple Group has worked hard on the redevelopment of the Northgate House site but their current proposal is significantly different to the scheme submitted during the competitive tendering process.

“The Council has taken the decision to end the agreement with Oakapple, since the revised scheme would be contrary to the tender process.

“The Council is now drawing up a new development strategy for the site.”

The redevelopment of Northgate House is part of an overall £1 billion investment in the region from the Leeds City Region Growth Fund - £1.3million was secured from the Local Growth Fund for this major infrastructure project. The funding was to be used to pay for the demolition of the Northgate House and the Central Library and Archive buildings and subsequent clearance of the site.

However, the leader of the Council Councillor Tim Swift said the new redevelopment strategy will consider all options.

“It’s a great opportunity and chance to have a re-think whether its for a large retail units or smaller ones. What we want to be sure is that what is on the site is sustainable in the long term and bring people into the town centre.”

Coun Swift said the site could even see a mixture of some retail units and some other uses. He also said the other alternatives could be looked at and if there were other options to demolishing all the buildings.

The development of the Northgate site was expected to be one of the final steps in an extensive redevelopment programme which has included the Broad Street Plaza, the opening of the Orangebox youth complex, the new Customer First Centre in Horton Street and the continuing work on the £19m transformation of the Piece Hall.

Despite protests by residents when plans were announced to relocate the library and archive, Coun Swift said the right decision was made.

Coun Swift said the Council didn’t want a situation similar to Bradford where the city’s main library was closed as major work took place.

“The main issue with relocating the library was down to the age of the existing building and need for refurbishment and that hasn’t changed.

“The location will work extremely well next to the Piece Hall.”