Cabinet to consider plans for town centres 

Cabinet will consider plans to make Kirklees a safer more attractive place to walk, cycle, shop and socialise as we recover from Covid-19 at their meeting on Monday 29 June.

What will this include? 

Councillors will consider plans for creative interventions and temporary or experimental road alterations in Huddersfield and Dewsbury to help support social distancing and encourage people to walk or cycle when possible.

We brought in a selection of temporary emergency road changes in Huddersfield on 15 June to coincide with shops re-opening in the town centres. Further temporary measures to support social distancing and active travel are being planned for the end of the month. The details of these changes are being finalised and will be shared with the public and businesses before they are made live.

The report asks councillors to agree on a proposed approach to implementing improvements to roads to allow for cycling and walking moving forward.  This includes plans to focus on investigating the feasibility of extending the cycle only streets within the town centre and the creation of traffic management schemes to link with wider, longer-term initiatives to create high environments in Huddersfield, as well as looking into potential improvements to routes around schools and in other town centres.

Officers propose that these measures would be set up in a temporary way that makes them easy to remove or amend as their impact becomes clearer and in response to consultation with businesses and residents.  The council is also proposing to complement the schemes with a pop-up cycle and e-scooter hire facility on St George’s square and a modest increase in cycle parking provision in the towns.

The measures are in line with the Government’s Active Travel plans,  the Government see the temporary re-allocation of road space as a first step to encourage active travel, and also helping with social distancing and road safety in town centres and outlying areas

In addition to the road measures, we will also make a decision on £200,000 of creative installations that would help make the town more attractive whilst encouraging social distancing.

Where are the proposed works? 

Proposed works in Dewsbury include:   A rainbow river of ribbons above the town centre, an outdoor gallery along long causeway and around the town hall,  new planters and green planting around the town,  artworks in shop windows, a pop-up sculpture trail and a hidden gallery in the bricked up windows or old buildings.

In Huddersfield we are considering; A rainbow river of ribbons above the town centre, new planters and green planting around the town,  artworks on hoardings and in shop windows, a pop-up sculpture trail and a hidden gallery in the bricked up windows or old buildings.

These activities have been drawn from earlier consultation exercises that fed into and shaped several council policies, strategies and plans, from culture to planning and regeneration. The artworks will also form part of the council’s Woven Festival legacy, which took place in 2019, and is scheduled to take place again in 2021.  The festival celebrates the areas rich textile history and includes artists, businesses and crafters among its contributors.

If Cabinet approves the plans works will begin to appear in July and grow throughout the summer.

Cllr Naheed Mather Cabinet Member for Greener Kirklees said:

“We are all still learning how to do things in this new normal,  we have to make decisions quickly in response to what is happening nationally and that often means trying different things, being flexible and adapting as we move forward.  Our first priority remains public safety,  but by bringing in these temporary road closures we also have the opportunity to test how impactful they are on social distancing, the climate, public health and the economy.

Any changes will include the opportunity for public consultation, and we will provide details of how to share your views on our websites and social media accounts at the appropriate times. There have never been more people cycling and walking and with public transport being restricted to essential journeys only, now really is the right time to do this.”

Cllr Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Culture said:

“The proposed art installations are part of our journey to come back stronger following the pandemic.  They will help encourage people to explore beyond the shops and to find safe spaces amidst the buildings to enjoy the visual experiences in socially distant ways.  The installations are all about the threads that connect us to our past, future and present and at times like these those connections are more important than ever.“

10 comments

  • In order to attract footfall into the town centre you have to attract cars. Drivers bring in much needed buying power to the local shops, Cyclists coming into town wont spend anything like the amount that is needed to make shops viable,and how many safe spaces are there to park a cycle? its time we woke up!!!

  • We are a local business based in Mirfield that specialise in providing Art Display Panels for sale and hire.We have more than 500 in stock as our business has been badly hit due to the cancellation of Exhibitions due to COVID-19
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  • An easy and inexpensive start to making walking and cycling safer throughout Kirklees would be to make sure existing foot and cycle paths are not obstructed by parked vehicles. This could even be income generating through fines. Please set an example by asking drivers of council vehicles not to park on pavements.

  • How about a 20mph speed limit in all town centres?

    • Another daft idea! Drivers want to get into town, park up easily, buy whatever it is that they came to buy and then get out again fast. See John Haigh’s extremely sensible post at the top of these comments for details. A 20mph speed limit will just clog up the town with slow moving traffic and persuade shoppers to go elsewhere where the traffic can move a little faster. People on push bikes don’t spend much cash and that’s what counts in a recession.

  • Stephen Kennedy

    Is this the limit of your vision?? Putting up ribbons and artworks!! We need traffic free routes into and through Huddersfield, Greenways, safe cycle parking, speed reductions for vehicular traffic, electric buses, penalties for polluters. Putting up a few artworks – total waste of money. Collectively as a council you are totally lacking in ambition

  • It is clear that we will never return to the model of town centres being largely retail centres with large shops. It is good to see that the council is continuing to think creatively on how to revitalise the two major town centres in Kirklees. Thee are many successful and prosperous towns and cities elsewhere that have excluded private cars and it is right that we should have the courage and imagination to consider the same here

  • Ribbons, sculptures, art-work …….What about public toilets?

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