NEWS

 

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

2015  2014  2013  2012 2016

2017 Annual Report

CHAIRMAN'S REPORT Dr John A.Hargreaves

The Halifax Civic Trust lecture has continued to maintain a high profile in the annual Halifax Heritage Festival, which now complements the annual Heritage Open Days instituted nationally by the former Civic Trust, the predecessor of Civic Voice, and now managed by the National Trust with assistance from Historic England. The lecture at the Halifax Playhouse on 11 September 2016, attended by Councillor Howard Blagbrough, Mayor of Calderdale, accompanied by the Mayoress, Catherine Kirk, was by the cultural historian Professor David Russell who presented to a large audience in the theatre auditorium a lively, wide-ranging overview of the Halifax novelist's prolific writing and her association with Halifax Playhouse as a founder member and former President of the Halifax Thespians. The lecture, which will be published in the Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, was preceded by the unveiling by the Mayor and Mayoress of a Halifax Civic Trust blue plaque, sponsored by the Halifax Playhouse, located prominently alongside the main entrance to the theatre. There were also guided tours of the impressive facilities developed by volunteers to support the extensive repertoire of the theatre and refreshments provided for those attending. This year the Halifax Civic Trust lecture will be delivered during the Halifax Heritage Festival by the distinguished architectural and social historian Helen Caffrey at the Waterhouse Homes on Harrison Road, Halifax, where a Halifax Civic Trust blue plaque will commemorate the Halifax merchant and benefactor, Nathaniel Waterhouse (1586-1645), whose charitable foundation is still delivering care to older people nearly four centuries after his generous provision in the seventeenth century.  

Halifax Civic Trust members also attended the fifth Annual J.H. Whitley lecture by Sir Alistair Graham at the University of Huddersfield and a related conference at which the Chairman of Halifax Civic Trust gave one of the presentations on J.H. Whitley's Halifax roots, which will be included in a forthcoming volume of collected essays to be published by Routledge, which he is jointly editing. He has also been invited to write the official biography of the former MP for Halifax who became the first northern manufacturer to serve as Speaker of the House of Commons. This publication will follow his extensively revised third edition of his history of Halifax, published with generous support from the Community Foundation of Calderdale and the Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council Small Grants Scheme, whose cover will feature the transformed and refurbished Halifax Piece Hall on completion and which will be available from the new Piece Hall Visitor Centre.

The regular monthly Halifax Civic Trust Executive Committee Meetings, held here at Halifax Town Hall have been well attended throughout the year and have covered a wide range of issues relating to the Trust's aims, namely the celebration, conservation and enhancement of Halifax's outstanding built and natural environment. These have included concerns about the impact of the devastating Boxing Day floods, particularly on the bridges at Copley and Elland; the continuing unsightly waste in the Hebble Valley and Swales Moor; the condition of the war memorial in West Hill Park and of Wainhouse Terrace and the loss of historical identities in the proposed detachment of Skircoat from the Halifax parliamentary constituency in the Boundary Commission Review, which Halifax Civic Trust has opposed. These meetings, which are open to anyone who wishes to attend, have been reinvigorated by the regular attendance of Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council's Heritage Champion, Councillor Jill Smith-Moorhouse, and by Alan Goodrum, who, like others last year, is listed among those seeking membership of the Executive at this meeting. We continue to respond to a wide range of conservation issues some arising from the regular scrutiny of planning applications led by June Paxton-White, which have included, for example, issues relating to the enforcement of regulations relating to the dimensions of dormer windows in West Hill Park. Other issues have been drawn to our attention by members of the public, for example the question of the disappearance of the commemorative signs in the garden where the Second World War bomb fell in Hanson Lane. Council officers and the Calderdale heritage champion were keen to assist with their replacement. It was decided that David Glover, with the assistance of John Hargreaves, would provide the wording for two new boards, which it is hoped will be more securely fixed. John Hargreaves expressed concern that the children's playground which the plaque had also designated as a commemoration of the charitable work of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, following her tragic death in 1997 should remain part of the commemoration as originally intended in the year of the twentieth anniversary of her death.  Enquiries were also made about the Crossley collection of designs, samples and Jacquard cards, held by Avena Carpets, now in liquidation. CIMA had looked at it previously, but lacked sufficient space to accommodate it. However before Dean Clough expressed a willingness to conserve the collection, these valuable historical artefacts appear to have been inadvertently destroyed.

The Halifax Civic Trust flagship award scheme, ably administered by David Hanson, has enabled us to award a plaque to the final major refurbishments of former industrial premises at Dean Clough, which remains among the most creative, confined ravines anywhere in the world, and which will no doubt delight the Halifax Civic Trust's President, Sir Ernest Hall, to whom we also send our greetings. We remain grateful to members of the Halifax Civic Trust and members of the public for drawing to our attention a range of concerns during the year and encourage others to raise any future concerns in the year ahead.

Networking has continued throughout the year with several members attending various meetings of the Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civic Societies and Civic Voice, which are open to any of our members who wish to attend. Halifax Civic Trust also hosted a visit to Halifax by the Huddersfield Civic Society to view the town centre architecture, led by David Hanson and David Glover. Members also participated in a Halifax Town Team meeting at Calderdale College with presentations on a range of potential town centre developments. We are grateful to David Hanson for his organisation of a programme of guided walks including a further visit to Edgerton, featuring suburban mansions in Huddersfield's Belgravia. David Hanson also arranged the Halifax Civic Trust's enjoyable annual Christmas social at 22, The Square, Northowram, a refurbished historic building, which featured a well-illustrated presentation by Mike Beachill, exploring the development of the Brynscoles Valley, the subject of his recent book. We also visited and received grateful hospitality at the Madni Mosque on Gibbet Street following a guided tour of the extended and refurbished building, which had won a Halifax Civic Trust award during the previous year. We remain grateful to all the officers and executive committee members whose support has been invaluable in ensuring that we continue our vigilance in celebrating, enhancing and conserving Halifax's remarkable heritage, not least to our devoted Secretary, June Paxton White, for co-ordinating the reports; Gill Hurl for producing the accounts and Richard Lister for independently examining the accounts. Finally, we look forward this evening to hearing from Paul Bedwell, a Trustee of Civic Voice, more about the role of Civic Voice nationally.

 

TREASURER'S REPORT Gill Hurl

for year ended 31st March 2017

Bank balances at 31st March 2017 are £4,557 compared with £4,038 last year. Subsc-riptions totalled £753 compared with £731 last year.

The total funds of £23,657 include £19,000 being the value of the Soil Hill pots donated by the now defunct Friends of Soil Hill Pottery to the Halifax Civic Trust. They are currently held at Bankfield Museum with HCT acting as trustees. Also held in trust is the bronze statue of The Boy David by Jocelyn Horner donated by the Tallis family in September 1914 in memory of their late father and husband Peter Tallis. The statue is yet to be valued but is expected to be in the low thousands. It is installed in St. Jude's church Halifax.

 

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT          Dr John A.Hargreaves

 

The Halifax Civic Trust lecture has continued to maintain a high profile in the annual Halifax Heritage Festival, which now complements the annual Heritage Open Days instituted nationally by the former Civic Trust, the predecessor of Civic Voice, and now managed by the National Trust with assistance from Historic England. The lecture at the Halifax Playhouse on 11 September 2016, attended by Councillor Howard Blagbrough, Mayor of Calderdale, accompanied by the Mayoress, Catherine Kirk, was by the cultural historian Professor David Russell who presented to a large audience in the theatre auditorium a lively, wide-ranging overview of the Halifax novelist’s prolific writing and her association with Halifax Playhouse as a founder member and former President of the Halifax Thespians. The lecture, which will be published in the Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society, was preceded by the unveiling by the Mayor and Mayoress of a Halifax Civic Trust blue plaque, sponsored by the Halifax Playhouse, located prominently alongside the main entrance to the theatre. There were also guided tours of the impressive facilities developed by volunteers to support the extensive repertoire of the theatre and refreshments provided for those attending. This year the Halifax Civic Trust lecture will be delivered during the Halifax Heritage Festival by the distinguished architectural and social historian Helen Caffrey at the Waterhouse Homes on Harrison Road, Halifax, where a Halifax Civic Trust blue plaque will commemorate the Halifax merchant and benefactor, Nathaniel Waterhouse (1586-1645), whose charitable foundation is still delivering care to older people nearly four centuries after his generous provision in the seventeenth century.  

 

Halifax Civic Trust members also attended the fifth Annual J.H. Whitley lecture by Sir Alistair Graham at the University of Huddersfield and a related conference at which the Chairman of Halifax Civic Trust gave one of the presentations on J.H. Whitley’s Halifax roots, which will be included in a forthcoming volume of collected essays to be published by Routledge, which he is jointly editing. He has also been invited to write the official biography of the former MP for Halifax who became the first northern manufacturer to serve as Speaker of the House of Commons. This publication will follow his extensively revised third edition of his history of Halifax, published with generous support from the Community Foundation of Calderdale and the Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council Small Grants Scheme, whose cover will feature the transformed and refurbished Halifax Piece Hall on completion and which will be available from the new Piece Hall Visitor Centre.

 

The regular monthly Halifax Civic Trust Executive Committee Meetings, held here at Halifax Town Hall have been well attended throughout the year and have covered a wide range of issues relating to the Trust’s aims, namely the celebration, conservation and enhancement of Halifax’s outstanding built and natural environment. These have included concerns about the impact of the devastating Boxing Day floods, particularly on the bridges at Copley and Elland; the continuing unsightly waste in the Hebble Valley and Swales Moor; the condition of the war memorial in West Hill Park and of Wainhouse Terrace and the loss of historical identities in the proposed detachment of Skircoat from the Halifax parliamentary constituency in the Boundary Commission Review, which Halifax Civic Trust has opposed. These meetings, which are open to anyone who wishes to attend, have been reinvigorated by the regular attendance of Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council’s Heritage Champion, Councillor Jill Smith-Moorhouse, and by Alan Goodrum, who, like others last year, is listed among those seeking membership of the Executive at this meeting. We continue to respond to a wide range of conservation issues some arising from the regular scrutiny of planning applications led by June Paxton-White, which have included, for example, issues relating to the enforcement of regulations relating to the dimensions of dormer windows in West Hill Park. Other issues have been drawn to our attention by members of the public, for example the question of the disappearance of the commemorative signs in the garden where the Second World War bomb fell in Hanson Lane. Council officers and the Calderdale heritage champion were keen to assist with their replacement. It was decided that David Glover, with the assistance of John Hargreaves, would provide the wording for two new boards, which it is hoped will be more securely fixed. John Hargreaves expressed concern that the children’s playground which the plaque had also designated as a commemoration of the charitable work of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, following her tragic death in 1997 should remain part of the commemoration as originally intended in the year of the twentieth anniversary of her death.  Enquiries were also made about the Crossley collection of designs, samples and Jacquard cards, held by Avena Carpets, now in liquidation. CIMA had looked at it previously, but lacked sufficient space to accommodate it. However before Dean Clough expressed a willingness to conserve the collection, these valuable historical artefacts appear to have been inadvertently destroyed.

 

The Halifax Civic Trust flagship award scheme, ably administered by David Hanson, has enabled us to award a plaque to the final major refurbishments of former industrial premises at Dean Clough, which remains among the most creative, confined ravines anywhere in the world, and which will no doubt delight the Halifax Civic Trust’s President, Sir Ernest Hall, to whom we also send our greetings. We remain grateful to members of the Halifax Civic Trust and members of the public for drawing to our attention a range of concerns during the year and encourage others to raise any future concerns in the year ahead.

 

Networking has continued throughout the year with several members attending various meetings of the Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civic Societies and Civic Voice, which are open to any of our members who wish to attend. Halifax Civic Trust also hosted a visit to Halifax by the Huddersfield Civic Society to view the town centre architecture, led by David Hanson and David Glover. Members also participated in a Halifax Town Team meeting at Calderdale College with presentations on a range of potential town centre developments. We are grateful to David Hanson for his organisation of a programme of guided walks including a further visit to Edgerton, featuring suburban mansions in Huddersfield’s Belgravia. David Hanson also arranged the Halifax Civic Trust’s enjoyable annual Christmas social at 22, The Square, Northowram, a refurbished historic building, which featured a well-illustrated presentation by Mike Beachill, exploring the development of the Brynscoles Valley, the subject of his recent book. We also visited and received grateful hospitality at the Madni Mosque on Gibbet Street following a guided tour of the extended and refurbished building, which had won a Halifax Civic Trust award during the previous year. We remain grateful to all the officers and executive committee members whose support has been invaluable in ensuring that we continue our vigilance in celebrating, enhancing and conserving Halifax’s remarkable heritage, not least to our devoted Secretary, June Paxton White, for co-ordinating the reports; Gill Hurl for producing the accounts and Richard Lister for independently examining the accounts. Finally, we look forward this evening to hearing from Paul Bedwell, a Trustee of Civic Voice, more about the role of Civic Voice nationally.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR June Paxton-White

This year has been a busy one which has seen the continuation of a number of matters that were dealt with in detail last year.  

We have pleasure in recording that successful applications were made for assistance with the funding of a third edition of "Halifax", the authoritative history of Halifax and its environs by our chairman Dr John A. Hargreaves.  We express our sincere thanks to the Community Foundation for Calderdale and the CMBC Small Grants Scheme for their generous support.  The new book will be updated to the present day and will incorporate all the latest archaeological and historical research. The launch is scheduled to coincide with the reopening of the Piece Hall. We hope it will find pride of place as the essential reference work on the bookshelves of all our members.

We are also pleased to report that, following the disastrous floods, Elland bridge has been successfully rebuilt to create a replica of the listed original using the same stones and with service pipes and cables in a modern core inside. It is again open to traffic.  Work has not yet started on Copley bridge. It was scheduled for completion in March 2017, but it is due to start in the near future.   Although it was listed it will not be possible to reinstate it in the original form with stone arches. HCT took this up with councillors to no avail. A modern flat metal bridge was proposed, but due to problems with the weight limit on the canal bridge which is the sole access, likewise the narrowness and angle of the railway arch, it was found to be impossible to bring one to site ready made or to use a suitable sized crane. It was then found that the proximity of pylons and overhead cables would prevent the building of a similar unit on the rugby pitch. So it will be replaced by a ready-made metal equestrian walkway, that is just wide enough to take pedestrians or horses and will be supported by the original stone pillars and abutments. It will not permit access by emergency or other vehicles. They will have to come down the unmade, steep, narrow old toll road to  a small number of premises on that side of the valley and to the church which is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust and still allows former parishioners to be buried in the graveyard.  As the original bridge was privately owned when it was built and no present owners could be traced, theoretically the council was under no obligation to rebuild it.  Details with photos were sent to YHACS for publication in their bulletin.

We were disappointed to learn that the opening of the new library would be 29 weeks overdue, with completion expected in October instead of April 2016.  It is still incomplete in April 2017.  The opening of the Piece Hall has also been delayed, possibly until August 2017 when it is hoped some parts may be completed.  The repairs to the structure have been carried out but it is still waiting for an internal refit.  We understand that the number of units has been much reduced to 41 to enable their size to be increased and that they will all be occupied by independent businesses with no national chains. We were surprised to learn that the CEO of the Piece Hall trust, who had spoken to us with such dynamism and enthusiasm last year, had recently left and been replaced.  Meanwhile the extension to Square chapel is still under construction and appears to be copper clad.  The main building has remained open for some events, albeit with portaloo toilets in the churchyard, and has been holding pop-up performances at other venues.  

At long last a planning application has been submitted by the council for a replacement for Copley primary school, which needs to be demolished due to flooding from underneath undermining the floors and foundations.  The proposal is to erect a modern building with better facilities on the adjoining playground and for its handsome Victorian predecessor to be demolished, after the school has been transferred to the new building, leaving space for a playgound on the old site.   We were delighted to learn that funding had been found for the required repairs to the industrial museum and that the keys had been handed over to the CIMA trust which comprises a number of our members.  It is hoped that the official opening will coincide with those of other buildings in the vicinity of the Piece Hall and that it will become a valuable amenity again.

Several events were held during the year. Following our award of a plaque to the Madni Mosque a group of members attended a walk and talk round the greatly extended premises and People's Park and conservation area. Members and friends enjoyed a tour of Shaw Lodge Mills, once one of the largest industrial complexes in the area, conducted by David Holdsworth, the last of the line of industrialists who founded it.  Members also enjoyed a walk and talk round about 60 listed buildings at Egerton where they were hosted by the Ukrainian Club.  A large crowd attended the unveiling by the mayor of the blue plaque at the Playhouse for Phyllis Bentley, who had been a founder member of the Thespians as well as a popular historical novelist.  Refreshments were taken in the cafe and Dave Russell, Professor of Cultural History at the University of Central Lancashire gave an entertaining talk in the theatre about the life and career of Phyllis Bentley. David Glover and David Hanson gave a conducted tour of the town centre to about 20 members of the Huddersfield Civic Society.  Members of our committee attended meetings of YHACS (Yorkshire and Humberside Association of Civic Societies) at the mansion house, Doncaster and the Cedar Court Hotel, Harrogate.  We also participated in a Town Team meeting in November which heard presentations on the town centre development plans and the road widening scheme with financing from the West Yorkshire transport fund.  In September a visit to Ponden Hall, which included tea and a guided tour of a fascinating old house, was a great success.  Our Christmas lunch this year, held at 22 The Square, Northowram, an old pub that has been modernised, went down well.

Regarding some of our on-going projects, we were pleased to learn that the historic artefacts from the infirmary had been transferred back to that site where they are being cleaned and will be displayed and accessible to the public, some in a museum and others such as plaques will be restored to their original positions if that is feasible.  The NHS will retain ownership but they will be available on permanent loan. Having expressed our concerns about the historic artefacts from the former court buildings, we were pleased to hear that 5 oil paintings would go to the Bankfield museum, 3 writs with Queen Victoria's seal to the West Yorkshire archive and 3 court chairs with coat of arms would be placed in the Victoria Hall at the town hall.  Thanks to the kind offices of one of our members, a specialist in bronze work agreed to repair the sculpture by Jocelyn Horner now located at St. Jude's church.

Refuse tips continue to be raised at committee meetings.  No real progress has been made on the major one on the Hebble Trail. We supported the refusal by the Environment Agency to extend the licence and asked for the appeal to be dismissed, which it was.  Although the owner was fined and then jailed for the various illegal activities on the site, a satisfactory outcome, there appears to be no means of removing the unsightly refuse, which is highly unsatisfactory. A submission was also made on the Swales Moor waste tip expressing our concern that inappropriate development might take place on a greenfield site. To this has been added the problem of proposed incineration at 2 tips in the Calder Valley.  This is a subject of great concern to the local residents who have formed a campaign group and submitted hundreds of objections to the planning department, so it looks likely to run for a considerable time.

On a lighter note we were amazed to hear that a proposal had been made, with plans seen at a meeting, for a 9m high Noah's Ark, complete with animals, on Wainhouse Terrace, accompanied by a cafe at the top and a crazy golf course at the bottom.  This is a difficult site, with archways being all that remains of the previous housing.  A telescope installed by the council to view the panorama of the valley had long since been stolen and there had been difficulties regarding the removal of sharps left by drug addicts.  We were later informed that it was again up for sale, the main problem being the lack of access and parking.

As always we rely on HCT members and the public to draw our attention to matters we might otherwise miss. Some of these have attended our meetings, as have council officers and councillors. These included a presentation to the committee by the Friends of West View Park regarding the restoration of the vandalised Boer War memorial, which we supported with the assistance of Cllr J. Smith-Moorhouse, the heritage champion.  We also took up the status of Love Lane footpath which had been partially blocked, leading to a successful outcome.  Members drew to our attention the presence of illegal parking signs which were removed by the Highways Dept and in response to queries about the fate of the cast iron Victorian lamp standards remaining in the town after conversion to the latest LED technology we were informed that some of these would be retained wherever historically appropriate. CIMA offered to take some discarded examples for the industrial museum.  A member of the public raised the question of the commemorative boards in the garden where the bomb fell in Hanson Lane and on the site of the gibbet. It was thought they disappeared a couple of years ago. Council officers and the heritage champion were keen to assist with their replacement. It was decided that David Glover, with the assistance of John Hargreaves would provide the wording for two new boards which it was hoped would be safer hung on a wall rather than on a separate stand. In response to another query enquiries were made about the Crossley collection of designs, samples and Jacquard cards, held by Avena Carpets, now in liquidation. CIMA had looked at it previously but lacked sufficient space, however Dean Clough were prepared to accommodate it.  Unfortunately these valuable historical records could not be found and it is feared they may have been destroyed.  

Your comments and queries are always welcome and we are pleased to take up issues in the appropriate quarters. We now have more active committee members and my thanks go to all those who have contributed so much time and effort to our concerns  about the local environment and the preservation of our rich historic heritage.

 

PLANNING APPLICATIONS  June Paxton-White

The past year has been an interesting one.  Owners of listed historic buildings are showing more inclination to restore or reinstate the original features of their premises by appropriate means.  However this does not apply to smaller houses where the trend is still to extend outwards or upwards as expanding families cannot afford to move into larger premises. If control is not exercised this causes assymetry both in Victorian terraces and C20 semi-detached developments.

In the town centre conservation area the number of vacant buildings, many of them listed, such as the central post office, the county court, the magistrates court, Somerset House, Horton House, Harrison House, the Theatre Royal, Holy Trinity church may become a problem.  A number of smaller buildings have been successfully converted into offices, flats or houses in multiple occupancy,   The outcome of larger conversions such as the former Halifax Courier building into flats or the large building at 27 Horton Street into a university training facility remains to be seen.

The local conservation areas continue to cause concern.  In particular West Hill Park, which was substantially renovated with kitchen extensions in a uniform style when it was designated, has been subject to a proliferation of dormers and rear extensions.  Although the planners are doing their best to keep out oversize dormers, particularly of the flat roof type, and disproportionate rear extensions, they continue to appear, presumably without planning permission.  This gives unsuccessful applicants cause to attach photos showing that the precedent has already been set as grounds for appeal against a refusal. During the year we have objected to numerous applications  from houses in the vicinity. We were therefore pleased to receive an invitation to join a group at the Queen’s Road Neighbourhood Centre who, in collaboration with councillors and planning officers, are hoping to submit a neighbourhood plan which will clarify the position and enable them to issue printed guidelines on what will and will not be permitted.  There have been instances where the planning officers have required owners of premises in other conservation areas to remove inappropriate alterations and reinstate what was originally there, but it is an uphill struggle. So far the planners have succeeded in controlling extensions and dormers on the houses in Copley conservation area, which have the added protection of listing, and they continue their efforts to retain the original appearance of Akroydon.  

On several occasions our objections to the removal of traditional style shopfronts in conservation areas have been upheld. However there have been many instances in other areas where traditional shopfronts have been obliterated by flat metal shutters in bright colours.  This year we have been pleased to note that some owners of Victorian shops in the town centre have been reinstating the traditional style and likewise that several of the premises attached to the Georgian former coaching inn on Northgate have been satisfactorily renovated and brought back into use as shops or eateries.

An interesting proposal was put forward to convert the Theatre Royal into an hotel behind a restored facade.  As most of the original theatre no longer exists, following a fire in 1927 and the interior of the Art Deco cinema dating from 1933 with proscenium arch had been removed due to damage by water, birds or vandals since it ceased to operate as a night club in 2007, this appears to be a good way to retain a landmark feature of the town and we hope it comes to fruition.  Another major proposal was the conversion of the listed St. Mary’s church, Illingworth into a combination of dwelling, flats, nursery, offices. We objected to the first scheme which had an inserted roof terrace with modern windows, as did Historic England, the Victorian Society and the Georgian Society. We are pleased to report that the most recent, scaled down, version is much more appropriate. We therefore withdrew our objection, merely requesting information on the historic internal features that included a war memorial, reredos and stained glass, which subsequently appeared in the conditions when the plan was approved.

Also at Illingworth the historic gaol, dated 1823 and stocks dated 1697, linked to the former Co-op building has been saved. Due to its rarity, this building was listed grade II in 1954, made II* in 1978, acquired by CMBC in 1968, put up for auction in 2009 and in 2010 was put on the English Heritage at risk register.  It is now owned by the North Halifax Historic Building Preservation Trust which has gone to great trouble to consult all relevant authorities and has submitted a suitable conservation and management plan.  The modern garage doors will be removed and the shopfront and interior will be replaced in accordance with archive photos.  Repairs will use original methods and inappropriate alterations will be eliminated.  The addition of a disabled WC, heating boiler and small kitchen facilities will enable it to be used as an educational heritage centre.  We welcome this development and wish it well.

This year has seen a number of applications for alterations to or renovations of listed yeoman’s houses dating back as far as the C16.  In most instances the owners appreciate the historic value of their premises and inappropriate previous changes have been reversed revealing older features that had been hidden.  In these cases the planners ensure that suitable matching materials and methods are used. The most prestigious of these was Barkisland Hall, which strictly speaking is just outside our area, but is described by English Heritage as “one of the finest gentry houses in Yorkshire”.  We were pleased to see instance where the planners demanded that improper alterations be reversed. We were also delighted to be informed that the renovation of Square church spire, which is listed Grade II*, will have the 1885 clock dials restored and modern automatic mechanisms installed, as we requested at the outset.  

An interesting project to watch will be the Pennine shopping centre on Horton Street.  Another outline application has been submitted for this major site which extends from Church Street to Union Street, the previous application having expired.   The details may change over time but it still includes a multi-storey car park clad in Corten steel. As the application is only classed as “outline” at present the scheme is likely to be altered when the official application is submitted and may change after that. We shall be vigilant in case the parts that are invisible in the drawings and computer-generated illustrations turn out to be clad in the grey metal or composite panels that so many of our members disliked on the Broad Street development.

No planning application has yet been submitted for the demolition of Northgate House and the central library.  We endeavoured to persuade councillors that the existing building would convert into a hotel, which we were informed would be badly needed to accommodate the number of people expected to visit the Piece Hall and environs, with the possibility of retail on the ground floor. The plan still seems to be for a complete retail development despite the number of empty units in the town and lack of retail tenants on the Broad Street Plaza.

Please note that it is now easy for members of the public to access all applications on line on the Calderdale Council website under Planning.  We would welcome the participation of any members of HCT who are interested.

Halifax Civic Trust Awards 2017