54 years of celebrating, enhancing and safeguarding Halifax's built and natural environment.

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AGM 2014

2013   2012

CHAIRMAN'S REPORT Dr John A Hargreaves

A glance at June Paxton White’s review of the activities of Halifax Civic Trust over the past year reveals the scale and diversity of the issues in which we have been engaged in the first year of our second half century of operation. No less significantly it also reveals the strength of June’s commitment to Halifax Civic Trust in insisting that she complete her review whilst still convalescing from major surgery last December. We are delighted both that June continues to make a good recovery and also that she has expressed a desire to resume more of her secretarial duties as soon as she feels able.

In paying tribute to June’s tenacity I want also to thank all the members of the executive who have in a variety of ways fulfilled additional responsibilities in a variety of ways ensuring that Halifax Civic Trust continues to remain an effective voice in celebrating, enhancing and safeguarding both the natural and built environment of Halifax and its environs. We are particularly grateful to David Hanson for undertaking the role of acting minutes secretary as well as administering the annual Halifax Civic Trust Awards scheme and collating contributions to this annual report.

Some changes we have made in June’s absence have been to establish a redefined role for a new membership secretary David Witcher, who will now communicate directly with our existing members and also seek new ways of recruiting new members, which is one of the greatest challenges we face. David has already conducted a review and revision of the Halifax Civic Trust’s constitution which has been approved by the executive committee and which is brought to this AGM for the approval of our members. We are pleased that Richard Lister has agreed to act as independent examiner of accounts, which is one of the provisions of the revised constitution.

We are also pleased that Eileen Connolly has offered to assist in the organ-isation of our events programme. We are grateful for the service given by other officers and committee members who retire from some of their res-ponsibilities at this AGM and especially to Ken Northcott, who retires as vice-chairman but who will continue to circulate to the executive inform-ation from Civic Voice and the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies and also remain a member of the planning sub-committee. David Glover has offered to step into his role as vice-chairman whilst continuing to fulfil his responsibilities as publicity officer. We also place on record our thanks to John Gaukroger for many years' service as a member of the executive committee from which he retires at this year's AGM.

We are always keen to recruit new members to the executive which meets on the first Thursday of each month at Halifax Town Hall and to welcome as observers anyone who cares to join us on any of these occasions. Within our membership we mourn the loss of Mark Andrew, a stalwart of Halifax Civic Trust and former Freeman of Calderdale, so soon after the loss of his beloved wife, Roma.

During the past year we have maintained our interest in suburban as well as town-centre concerns in supporting, for example, directly or indirectly, groups in the Upper Shibden Valley and Cragg Vale concerned about the potential impact of wind turbines on the Calderdale landscape; the efforts of groups in north Halifax seeking to find viable futures for Illingworth Gaol and Mount Zion Chapel; and exploring historic Warley with members of the Warley Community Association for our Christmas social, efficiently organised by Gwyneth Crawley.

We have extended further into the suburbs with our blue plaques scheme by erecting plaques in Bell Hall to commemorate the life of Halifax Civic Trust founder member Jocelyn Horner and in Siddal to commemorate the residence there of the historians Edward and Dorothy Thompson on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of E. P. Thompson’s influential social history, The Making of the English Working Class, which was written in Halifax and first published in 1963.

Both events were linked with other related activities. On the day of the placing of the commemorative plaque for Jocelyn Horner, one of her best-known sculptures locally, of the shepherd boy David, was dedicated at the Church of Holy Trinity and St Judes’s. The sculpture had been donated to Halifax Civic Trust by the Tallis family in memory of Peter Tallis for exhibition in the church porch. Our thanks are also due to Halifax Civic Trust members Clive and Virginia Lloyd for their involvement in the resolution of a challenging problem.

On the day of the dedication of the plaque commemorating the Thompsons at their former residence at Siddal I led a guided walk from Square Chapel to Siddal, the route of which we published in a commemorative booklet sponsored by the Society for the Study of Labour History. I wish to thank Stuart Crowther for his liaison with the residents of the Thompsons' former home and his assistance in planning and stewarding the walk which, together with the dedication of the plaque, received international publicity. We were also grateful to the Lawrence Funeral Service for the sponsorship of the Horner plaque and the Lipman-Milliband Trust for the sponsorship of the Thompson plaque and to the Mayor of Calderdale, Councillor Anne Martin, and her deputy, Councillor Lisa Lambert, for representing the council on each of these occasions.

Other highlights this year were our involvement in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Halifax Town Hall, where I was privileged to speak, together with Ben Crossley, a descendant of the Crossley family. We have also engaged in dialogue with the architects planning the refurbishment of Princess Buildings as new civic offices and commented on the plans for the redevelopment of the new library and archives on the Square Church site. In the centenary of the introduction of legislation to protect ancient monuments we have also been involved in securing the conservation of the medieval route into Halifax, which Halifax Civic Trust, under the leadership of the late Herbert Morris, was instrumental in restoring, and in drawing attention to the need to conserve sections of the Hebble Way, which the late Geoffrey Washington played a key role in devising.

We continue to express our concern about other buildings and artefacts at risk including the former railway goods warehouse at Shaw Syke, Martin’s Mill, Pellon Lane, and the interior of the domestic chapel at Bankfield Museum, together with a remarkable collection of artefacts illustrating the history of the free hospital movement in Calderdale, which remains woefully underrepresented in existing museum collections. We have been pleased with the removal of inferior cladding at number 8 Bull Green, a reward for our own and Calderdale MBC’s persistence on this issue, and have worked closely with the council in developing a photographic audit of buildings in central Halifax.

Our capacity to engage in such a wide variety of projects depends upon the dedication of our officers and also the loyal support of our membership and I would like to conclude by offering everyone in both these categories our grateful thanks and encourage anyone who is here tonight who might be interested in joining us to speak to our new membership secretary, David Witcher, before they leave this evening.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR  June Paxton-White

April

The trust's AGM was held on April 25 at Halifax Town Hall, hosted by the Mayor, Councillor John Hardy, accompanied by the Mayoress. The following officers were re-elected: chairman, John A. Hargreaves; vice-chairman, Ken Northcott; secretary, June Paxton-White; treasurer, Gill Hurl; publicity officer, David Glover. The following committee members were re-elected: David Brearley, Stuart Crowther, John Gaukroger, Susan Hargreaves, David Hanson and Pam Northcott. Two new members were elected, Eileen Connolly and David Witcher, and Neil McDonald kindly agreed to take over management of the website.

On completion of the business the Mayor presented our annual awards. The plaque went to Trinity Academy; the community kitchen and garden set up by the Halifax Opportunities Trust at Lightowler Road, Halifax, was highly commended and commendation certificates were presented for new hard landscaping at Dean Clough, the restoration of the sundial at Mount Zion Chapel, Ogden, and a replica stone plaque at 16t- century Backhold Hall, Siddal. We then enjoyed the presentation by our speaker Hugh Crossley, Lord Somerleyton.

At our April committee meeting Brian Hill told us about his ideas for a "materials centre" at the Piece Hall. So far his efforts to obtain support from Calderdale MBC officers and councillors had been unsuccessful and although various professional bodies and university departments were in favour of the idea, none was able to provide the necessary funding. The committee thought the idea was attractive but might not fit as well in the Piece Hall as, say, at Eureka or Shaw Lodge Mills.

HCT had offered to pay reasonable expenses for the removal of the sculpture by Jocelyn Horner from the scrapyard to St Jude's Church and to mount a plaque stating it was donated in memory of Peter Tallis, the late owner of the scrapyard. A sub-committee was set up to assist in a town-centre photographic survey which might result in local listing.  Eileen Connolly, Gwyneth Crawley, David Hanson and David Witcher were keen to participate. We heard that the building that had housed the Working Horse Museum was at risk as parts of the roof had fallen in. We contacted conservation officer Chris Edwards to see if CMBC was prepared to enforce the terms of the lease.  A reply was awaited from minister Eric Pickles on Halifax Central Library and the Piece Hall environs.

We were pleased to note that work was in progress on the Old Cock Inn and that Manor Heath fountains had been found in the old stable buildings there, although it was not clear what the contractor would do with them. We made enquiries to see if listed building consent had been obtained for the removal of tombstones at the former Holy Trinity Church on Harrison Road.  We were informed that the Shibden Valley Society intended to object to a planned huge wind turbine on Swales Moor Road, details of which were awaited. Two of our members had attended a meeting on the fate of the Halifax Town Team, which has been in limbo since the abolition of Yorkshire Forward and Action Halifax and Calderdale MBC had withdrawn financial support. We were disappointed to learn that the council had failed to enforce a judgement against illegal operations at the recycling plant at Siddal which had been closed down.

May

The committee heard a presentation by Terry Melia and Sarah Tuszynski on Illingworth Gaol (1823) and stocks (1697), following correspondence with concerned members. They had set up a community group devoted to saving it, having heard that Calderdale MBC had accepted a bid of £25,000 which proposed to convert it to residential use. We contacted conservation officers who informed us that the building, which had been listed grade II* since 1954, was on the English Heritage "at risk" list, so a potential buyer would not be permitted to demolish it or make inappropriate alterations.  We saw slides of its current poor condition. The group was seeking a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to put in an alternative bid but without positive ideas for its future use or financing. The committee was in favour of their efforts and helpful suggestions were made as to other organisations that might help with a bat survey, advice and funding.

Enquiries had been made about the council's intentions regarding the condition of the  former Working Horse Museum building, revealing that no action was being taken. We heard that Linda Riordan, MP, had supported Civic Voice at the all-party parliamentary group for civic societies over new planning legislation and we had emailed our thanks. We received notification that English Heritage was considering listing the 18th-century  warehouse in the Upper George Yard and expressed our support. David Hanson had attended a meeting on procedures for local listing. Calderdale MBC was not sure it was feasible to undertake local listing at present and we resolved to find out what other civic and historical societies had done about it.

We were informed that the Manor Heath fountains were likely to be sold on e-bay by the owner of the stables property. Members had noted the poor condition of the chapel at Bankfield Museum due to damp and enquiries were made. Concerns had been expressed about the whereabouts of various historic artefacts that had belonged to the Royal Halifax Infirmary, such as portraits, plaques, silver and sundry mementos, thought to number 60 to 70 items. We understood that they were in poor condition in storage in a cellar and a letter was received from the NHS trust indicating its intention to put them up for auction. Dr Hargreaves pointed out the need to preserve evidence of the 19th-century  free hospital movement in Calder-dale and we contacted Bankfield Museum to see if it would be interested in taking the items.

June

We were sad to hear of the death of Mark Andrew, a long-standing trust member, and several members attended his funeral. We were disappointed to find that, due to lack of response to plans for a members' trip to Ripon, we had to cancel it. On the plus side we learned that Bankfield Museum would be interested in taking historically important items relating to the hospitals to complement its collection of old photos. Regarding the condition of the chapel at Bankfield, the senior curator shared our concerns but explained that Calderdale MBC was responsible for maintenance. The roof had been repaired but she did not think it would be feasible to restore the painting in the chapel.

We received various briefings from Civic Voice on changes to planning legislation, predictably that priority should be given to high-density schemes on brownfield sites, and welcoming the new rules on wind farms. Civic Voice president Griff Rhys Jones had complained to the minister that localism ignored local opinion and the minister had replied: "In reality it has always been about how things will be delivered, not what would be delivered."

We learned that the expansion project at Square Chapel was going ahead and that Piece Hall traders had been offered alternative accommodation near the town hall during major alterations to the hall. The sale of Illingworth Gaol had fallen through and the group of volunteers had been offered six months to come up with a practical business plan. A meeting had been held regarding the Working Horse Museum roof, which appeared to have been tidied up. We heard that the boundary wall of All Souls' Church had been repaired and that the church was to be opened by volunteers every Saturday from 12 to 3 pm.

July

We heard from the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust that the curator of Bankfield Museum was to put forward a list of hospital artefacts which he proposed to take to the museum; the remainder of the items would be put up for sale by public auction. We heard from the council's conservation officer regarding 8 Bull Green that the external repainting had been agreed but the colour had come out more orange than expected and the owner wished to paint the quoins and window surrounds a darker colour. In response to a query from a member of the public we were informed that changes had been made to  plans for the Field House site due to the discovery of a natural spring. The planners said the trees were to be replanted in accordance with a detailed scheme submitted.

After various consultations HCT expressed our disapproval of the location of the proposed new library below the Piece Hall. On the assumption that the new building would go ahead regardless, we made some constructive suggestions, including that local stained glass specialists who had worked on York Minster be used to provide coloured panes for the old windows of Square Church, and that a modern clock mechanism be installed in the spire. We were pleased to learn that copper cladding proposed for the Piece Hall extension was now to be abandoned in favour of the same buff coloured brick to be used in the new library building. In response to a consultation we welcomed the provision of a new engineering department at the Maltings College, Ovenden Wood, which would only affect the external appearance to a minimal extent.  

September

Arrangements were made for the transport of Jocelyn Horner's Boy David sculpture to St Jude's Church and the engraving of a metal commemorative plaque. The sculpture was duly installed in the entrance to the church. A service of rededication was held, attended by Virginia Lloyd in her capacity as High Sheriff of West Yorkshire. The party then went to Green Hayes, the sculptor's former home, where a blue plaque was unveiled.

The trust's sub-committee carrying out the town-centre conservation area photographic survey had begun their work with David Witcher liaising with Calderdale Council officers over plans for a data base and link to the trust's website. The conservation officer considered that whole streets in the town centre merited local listing. Several trust members attended a Halifax Town Team meeting at the Elsie Whiteley Centre at which the speaker was the architect Will Alsopp. David Glover hosted a visit by Wakefield Civic Society at very short notice.

We were informed by English Heritage that the central post office and the warehouse in the Upper George Yard had been listed at grade II. We also learned that a walking and cycling route was to be created between Halifax rail station and the Hebble Trail. We opposed another planning application for large wind turbines that would be visible from Halifax town centre. We had no objection to amended plans for altering the access to the Square Church site from Square Road.  Members enjoyed a talk by Brian Harkness on Halifax Diamonds.

October

Enquiries were made about some replacement masonry features at Halifax Minster which were thought to be out of alignment but the council's conservation officer told us that the work had been carried out in accordance with the instructions of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, that is cut to the original size therefore not in line with the weathered originals. We also expressed concern about the lack of protection for the east window, which had been damaged by thrown missiles. We were told that the parish council had considered wire mesh too costly and that it would block out the light so we asked them to consider a plastic coating.

It was decided to support the Shibden Valley Association in opposing more applications for wind turbines. Members enjoyed an entertaining talk by Greg Christie on The Curse of Lassie. Few people were aware that Eric Knight, the writer of the book on which the film Lassie Come Home was based, had lived in Halifax. We agreed to consider providing a blue plaque for the writer if a site could be found, as his home had been demolished. We were informed about the improvements to Lister Lane Cemetery with seating and three new information boards.

November

The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds was consulted about repairs to Jocelyn Horner's Boy David sculpture and had given a helpful reply. Dr Hargreaves had asked for her to be included in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. We were sorry to hear that Chris Edwards, Calderdale Council's conservation officer, had left the area and sent him a copy of the illustration he had admired on the cover of our annual report.

A blue plaque for the historian and writer E P Thompson and his wife, Dorothy, to mark the 50th anniversary of his seminal work The Making of the English Working Class, was unveiled by the Mayor of Calderdale at the Thompsons' former home in Siddal. The ceremony followed a walk to Siddal and talk by Dr John Hargreaves, attended by people who had been to a conference at Square Chapel on the Thompsons' work and legacy. We were informed that the condition of one of our buildings at risk, Ovenden Hall, was again deteriorating and members would keep an eye on it.

December

Following incapacitation due to major surgery, the writer was grateful to the following committee members for assistance: David Hanson with secretarial duties and the collation and printing of the annual report, David Witcher as membership officer, Gwyneth Crawley and Eileen Connolly with the organisation of events.

Our December meeting was preceded by a presentation by representatives of the architects Bauman Lyons and the Calderdale MBC conservation team on a £7.5 million scheme to convert several linked council-owned buildings between Princess Street, Crossley Street and Northgate, into council offices as part replacement for existing offices at Northgate House, now to be demolished. The scheme would deal with problems caused by different floor levels and rationalise the many existing small spaces by eliminating internal walls. It was proposed to demolish an inappropriate modern building on Princess Street and construct an extension at the centre of the complex to solve problems of access, circulation and airflow. This presentation followed a visit by trust members to the existing complex, which was found to be seriously run down and in need of regeneration. Proposed materials ranged from ashlar stone for the Princess Street frontage to dressed split-faced stone for internal facing elevations and zinc for roof lights. Members expressed some concern over the "severity" of the proposed design of the Princess Street façade alongside the high Victorian facades of the former bank and the White Swan Hotel opposite.

The committee was still concerned about the fate of various artworks and other artefacts from the former Halifax hospitals as the Bankfield Museum, which was taking some items, was unable to accommodate others that members considered should be found a suitable home. A meeting was planned with the former hospitals archivist Mike Barnes to view the items and the inventory. Our Christmas lunch was held at the Maypole Inn, Warley, where we enjoyed an interesting talk by David McCallam and Maryke Deahl, of the Warley Community Association's history group, while, outside, festivities took place round the tree, the Mayor switched on the Christmas lights and a councillor acted as Santa Claus in his grotto.

January

It was reported that English Heritage was considering an application to list the former Heath Grammar School building dating from 1877, incorporating an "apple and pear" traceried window from the original school founded in 1585. It was decided that, despite many alterations, the existing buildings retained fabric of merit, especially the main façade facing Free School Lane. It was agreed that HCT would support the listing. On the proposed alterations to Princess Buildings it was decided to comment on the severity of the treatment of the new façade and at roof level.

David Witcher had taken over responsibility for communicating with members and suggested that HCT produce an information booklet for members and potential members as the existing literature needed updating. The original constitution was also out of date and would be reviewed. A letter had been received about the deteriorating condition of the Magna Via. As HCT had been instrumental in leading a project to restore the route some years before it was agreed that to approach Calderdale MBC to ascertain where  responsibility for maintenance lay.

February

An enquiry had been received about a house in Savile Park that had been empty for some time and appeared to be undergoing renovation work that might not be in keeping with the conservation area. We obtained an assurance from the new owner that the work would be appropriate and shall keep an eye on it. We welcomed the news of a proposal to use the former Heath Grammar School building as a school. David Witcher had prepared a review of the trust's constitution and proposed amendments to be brought to the AGM.  

Photos were received of the damaged parts of the Magna Via and our con-cerns about that and a missing information board were sent to the Calderdale MBC's Rights of Way section. We heard that the last tenant was to vacate premises at the grade 2-listed Deal Street warehouse, which were in very poor condition. In response to a request for advice the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds had expressed interest in helping with the repair of Jocelyn Horner's sculpture of the Boy David at St Jude's Church and requested close-up photos and further information on her work.

March

Despite the reduction in income caused by loss of members due to death or removal from the area, it was decided to retain subscriptions at their existing level, subject to review in a year's time, and ask members to help make up the shortfall with donations. HCT continued to subscribe to Civic Voice and the Yorkshire and Humber Association of Civic Societies. Following an invitation in the Halifax Courier, several nominations were received for HCT annual awards and a sub-committee was formed to visit the sites and assess the projects.

Halifax Civic Trust has had another busy year and the committee is endeavouring to maintain its involvement in local matters.  It is expected that due to changes in legislation affecting planning and building there will be plenty to do next year and we would therefore welcome any member with an interest in participating more directly in the work.

TREASURER'S REPORT Gill Hurl

Bank balances at 31st March 2014 were £3623 compared with £3792 last year. Subscriptions totalled £353 compared with £446 last year, the reduction being partly due to more members paying before the year end in March 2013.The loss for the year of £182 (£813 last year) has been held down by comparatively fewer expenses for post, stationery and awards.

The total funds of £22710 include £19000, the value of the Soil Hill pots donated by the now defunct Friends of Soil Hill Pottery to Halifax Civic Trust. They are currently held at Bankfield Museum with HCT acting as trustee.

 

I have examined the balance sheet and income and expenditure account of the Halifax Civic Trust for the year ending 31st March 2014 and found them to be in accordance with the account book and vouchers for the trust.

R C Lister.
(Richard C Lister, Independent Examiner, 2nd April 2014)

 

PLANNING APPLICATIONS  Pam and Ken Northcott

November 2012 marked the second full year of working to the system of accessing planning information online. Coincidentally November 2012 also saw the closure to the public of Northgate House, to be replaced, as far as obtaining planning information is required, by Calderdale Council's "one- stop shop" in Horton Street, in what was the JobCentre Plus.

Schemes which have received planning permission include the following:

Old Lane Dyeworks, Old Lane, Halifax: Construction of 64 dwellings.

Former Police Station, Ovenden Road, Halifax: Change of use to three dwellings.

Square Road: New central library and archives incorporating steeple and ruins of Square Church.

8-12 Cross Hills, Halifax: Conversion of former restaurant to 27 bedsits, and construction of stairway.

Former depot site, Maltings Road, Halifax: Demolition of existing depot and construction of 51 affordable dwellings with gardens and car parking.

A major scheme awaiting a decision is the conversion and extension of Princess Buildings, 1-3 Crossley Street, 17-23 Northgate and Star Yard, to form council offices. There has been a noticeable number of developments providing a modest number of dwellings on small sites, for example on land adjacent to 5 Wakefield Gate, Halifax, four detached dwellings and a detached garage. An application for a 60-bed multi-storey hotel east of Hollas Lane, Wakefield Road, Copley that caused some controversy was withdrawn.

English Heritage has produced a consultation report on the former Heath Grammar School, now Heath Training Centre, Free School Lane, Halifax, with a view to its possible listing.

CALDERDALE LOCAL PLAN

Part 1: Core Strategy

During the last 12 months no formal consultation stages have taken place in relation to the core strategy; however that is not to say that there has not been plenty of work going on in the background! The responses to comments made on the "Preferred Options" document have been finalised and published on our website. A significant amount of evidence-based research work has been going on in the background and is available to view on our website. The "Publication" version of the core strategy is currently being drafted for an anticipated consultation late summer, following full council approval after the local elections.

Part 2: Land Allocations and Designation Plan

Early engagement work has commenced looking at sites that have been put forward to the council us as having potential for development. A series of 11 workshops was held  around the district in February and March. It is the intention to prepare the first official consultation stage of this document (the 'Issues and Options' version) alongside the core strategy "Publication" version; it is hoped that this will therefore be in late summer 2014.

The "Preferred Options" version of the core strategy was published in autumn 2012 and the proposed distribution of new growth in the district was presented in the summary document. This showed that land for the provision of some 5,050 new dwellings may need to be allocated in the Halifax area, although the number may change as more up-to-date information and data become available.