Build on the past - but don’t be stuck in it!

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I feel that I must write to add my support to others who support the Councils’ proposed Town Centre Development plans, part of which involves the demolition of Northgate House and the building of a new Library attached to a re-developed Piece Hall.

In this context, I feel that I must take issue with Muriel Morgan’s letter (Yoursay – 09-03-12).

“Northgate House probably just needs a little TLC . . . “ I am sorry but it needs a huge amount of TLC and, perhaps even more importantly, there is cross-party and Calderdale senior management agreement that Calderdale no longer needs the office accommodation provided at Northgate House.

In addition, however often some people may say that only TLC is required, the facts are that a huge expenditure would be required to make this building fit for purpose in the long term AND the accommodation is not needed – that truly would be a waste of money at this time of cutbacks and to call getting rid of Northgate House “selling off the family silver” really is a wide of the mark.

The “purpose-built library with a superb inbuilt safe archive” is also, in fact, in need of serious investment to to maintain its fitness for purpose; not least, when Northgate goes, as go it must, there will be an £800,000 cost to give the existing Library its own independent power supply before any essential and expensive refurbishment work was carried out.

The sale of the whole Northgate site will provide improved shopping facilities for everyone in Calderdale and will encourage visitors to the borough.

It will provide jobs for the people of Calderdale and generate significant amounts of additional business rates which will help fund essential services in a time of cutbacks. The income generated will also help fund a new library and archives – for the 21st century.

Whether we “need a monster of a glass building” is down to personal preference but I don’t think that ‘glass building’ and ‘monster’ are synonomous – they can be very attractive and effective buildings, whilst attempts at copying older buildings can end up looking like a pastiche in a Holywood musical!

As far as supermarkets and “killing off little shops” is concenred – the Northgate site is not appropriate for a supermarket in retail terms and the objective would be to bring in one or two key high street stores that Halifax does not already have.

Retail development principles actually show that a mix of large and small stores work very well, with the former generating footfall which benefits the latter.

I would urge people to think about all of the people in Calderdale; the shoppers, the book readers, the tourists, the workers and the users of council services.

In my view, the creative proposals for town centre development will benefit all of those people, moving Halifax positively into the 21st century but maintaining its pride in its earlier and Victorian roots with the likes of Shibden Hall, the Town Hall, Princess Buildings, Wainhouse Tower, the Piece Hall etc. Not stuck in the past but, building on the past, for the future.

Ashley Evans


Sowerby Bridge