CSOS’ Halifax Town Centre Consultation Response

This is our response to the Halifax Town Centre / Halifax Central Library Consultation:

“Calderdale Save Our Services (CSOS) wishes to make the following response to the “Your Calderdale Your Future” consultation:

1. CSOS acknowledges that there may be a case for a new library building. If the existing library building cannot provide good working conditions for staff, be made energy efficient, or be maintained in a planned way at a reasonable cost, the case for a new library building might be valid. However, there has not been any technical information available during the consultation to evaluate this properly.

2. If the case for a new Library building can be justified on the grounds set out above, CSOS believes that a new library building needs to offer facilities that are as good and extensive as, if not better than those offered at the existing Halifax Central Library.

3. CSOS maintains that the Square Spire Site suggested for relocating the Central Library is vastly inferior to the present site in Northgate. It is like comparing a high street location for the library with a backstreet location. CSOS is therefore opposed to the relocation of the Central Library to the Square Spire site.

4. CSOS was alarmed to learn that as part of the Halifax Town Centre Office Strategy a decision was taken this summer to close and sell off Horton House, which houses Halifax’s Adult Education Centre. The decision to dispose of Horton House was taken with few people knowing about it, no consultation and no alternative plan for adult education provision. CSOS believes that full and extensive consultation with adult education students, tutors and the wider community is essential and should have taken place before any decision to dispose of Horton House was taken. Part of such consultation could have been through the Halifax Town Centre consultation. Why wasn’t it? CSOS believes that Adult Education in Halifax may best be served by reversing the decision to close Horton House.

5. CSOS is not convinced that redevelopment to attract retailers such as Primark to Halifax Town Centre would bring great overall benefits to the Town. CSOS is also concerned that a strategy that relies on private sector redevelopment to deliver a new Library building is somewhat risky. The stalled Westfield development in nearby Bradford does not increase confidence in this regard.

6. CSOS believes that the Halifax Town Centre consultation could have been a lot more genuine, meaningful and extensive in its scope. The consultation effectively offers a choice of two options – building larger retail units on the Library / Northgate House site or retaining the library and turning the Northgate House site into open space. While there may be merit to providing open space in Halifax Town Centre, with imaginative planning, other options for the Northgate House site must surely be possible. Inclusion of such options would have made the consultation more meaningful. Further, the consultation leaflet states that if the existing Central Library is to be retained main services would need to be separated from Northgate House and a new Plant Room would need to be built. However, the Halifax Town Centre Office Strategy report to June’s Calderdale Council Cabinet meeting budgets £830,000 for the separation of services to Northgate House and the Library apparently irrespective of the long term future for the Halifax Central Library building.

Calderdale Save Our Services hopes that these views will be reflected in the outcome of the Halifax Town Centre consultation.”

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