Highways Office, Fartown, Huddersfield

Prior approval for the demolition of a Council owned Victorian building in Kirklees:


I can not find any information on the former use of this building. It appears in the earliest historical maps of Huddersfield, but is unlabelled. I would love to know more about it before it is pulled down.

This is an industrial street with buildings of a variety of ages, this being the oldest. The application does not indicate why Kirklees Council are demolishing the building. While it appears to still be in use, and remains a robust structure, for some reason the disposal of this public asset requires a site clearance. Wouldn’t it be easier to sell it as seen? At least then a buyer may well look to repurpose it.

The building is delightful, with a double front facing gable separated by a tall chimney. The detailing is appropriately modest, with ornate iron weather veins on the ridges.

This falls within permitted development, so the Council’s development control officers have no planning control. However it would be unlikely they would refuse one of their own applications even if they did have the power.


Parade of shops, Burley,

Plans to demolish three shops to make way for a student residential tower in Burley, just outside central Leeds:

Not much of old Leeds remains in this part of the city. Once a patchwork of dense back to backs, with a tramway circumnavigating the area, this part of Burley is slowly transforming from a nowhere belt on the periphery of the city centre into a student village.

The buildings are to be demolished to make way for the tower below. Quite a level of densification, which will further the repopulation of the area. Reluctantly the loss of Victorian Leeds is outweighed by the regenerative benefits in this instance.

The buildings are simple, and atypical of the era with painting facia boards and large eaves overhangs. One aspect of the site that would be a lamentable loss is the erasure of Back Burley Street, which is still paved with the original stone sets. Maybe the developer would have integrated the street into the ground floor. A bit of innovation like that would serve to give the building a real identity, and an appealing commercial pull on the ground floor.

Cross Roads Inn, Keighley

Application to demolish a pub for a housing site for 11 dwellings:

The attractive stone pub above will be lost to clear a site for 11 dwellings, the elevations for which can be seen below

While I admire that the development would turn the corner of the roundabout and create a strong street frontage (unlike most residential developments which have no concern for the surrounding built form), intensifying the built form to deliver 1 homes, the elevations are a bit bare. A lack of chimneys, quoins and roof detailing in general would result is a somewhat stark frontage in this village centre location.

And the loss of such a beautiful and robust pub is never acceptable. It would be simple to integrate the pub into a residential scheme and achieve the 1 1 units. The Local Authority Planners should also take note of the increase in scale to a three story building. Its not quite right for this street. A better proposal is possible and ten minutes of well-deployed negotiation would achieve this.

As a local authority planner I know this is eminently possible, and if this landed on my desk I’d be certain to secure the longevity of the pub, whilst delivering homes in this location. Intensification is good. Erasing social institutions is not.

George Hotel, Huddersfield

Application to remove the rear wing of a Victorian hotel for modernisation:


The George Hotel holds pride of place on Huddersfield’s famous St George’s Square, which to my mind is one of the most impressive urban environments in the country. Arriving into Huddersfield is an uninterrupted 360 degree vista of imposing stone buildings. It makes a statement.

This element of the building dates from somewhere between 1870 and 1930. The loss of the chimney would be particularly sad, as it brings a lot to the square. The wing is appropriately austere for its location next to the hotel frontage. It provides an interface between the back end of the railway and the grandeur of the square, and displays a unique hinge that results in an intricate interface with its neighbour.

The proposed demolition of the rear of the hotel would see a modern building introduced into this setting, bereft of stone, adorned in cladding. The renders look highly attractive, but on a cold wet day in the North, stone buildings look resilient and dramatic. The above would resemble a business park off the M6. Architecture like this can really benefit regeneration, and can complement the urban environment very well. But not here. St George’s square is perfection, and any changes here should be considered with utmost caution.

Newall Church Hall, Otley

Plans to demolish a former Sunday School for 8 dwellings:

This building is described as being built in the 1920s, but appears much older by virtue of the weavers cottage style mullion windows.

Built on the grounds of the former Newall Old Hall, which was being demolished simultaneously, the building served the Sunday School congregation of Otley to the North of River Wharf, and was constructed of reclaimed materials from the hall.

8 semi-detached dwellings will replace the building. The hall could have been converted into a dwelling, but arguing against the intensification to 8 houses would need a powerful case for conservation.

The actual building footprint would make way for a single pair of semis and with a bit of creativity the building could be well integrated into the layout to offer an attractive an historic gateway to the new cul-de-sac. The planning industry still has to articulate to the real estate world the notion that identity adds value to property. Until they do, the biggest influence on the design of the built environment will be the land promoters armed with excel.

Ornate house in South Cave, East Yorkshire

Plans to demolish a house to allow for access to a proposed volume housing development:

A very historic component of the Market Place in South Cave, this pair of houses is required to be demolished to allow for road access to a larger development to the rear.

The Humber Historic Environment Record have objected to the loss, stating that previous plans viably retained the house. As such it would be unlikely the planning officer could depart from this recommendation. So hopefully the building will be saved.

Quirky end terrace, Sheffield

An interesting Victorian end terrace to be replaced with a new dwelling near Norfolk Park in Sheffield:

Nowhere near being on the radar of any conservation body, this town house punctuates the end of this Victorian terrace, and is an example of how families would extend their houses before the age of the ubiquitous box dormer.

While its loss would not ruin the street, these quirky terminating buildings always add the story an urban street tells.

UPDATE: This application has subsequently been refused.

Possible former Church? Upper Brook Street, Manchester

(Possibly a house, possibly a Methodist church) to make way for student accommodation in Manchester:

Genuinely flummoxed by the age and origin of these buildings. They appear ecclesiastical, but no reference to a church on the Ordnance Survey is made on historic maps. I can’t see the buildings (to the right) being used as houses, so their purpose eludes me.

Still, attractive buildings nonetheless. And the last of the old stock along Carmoor Road adjacent to upper brook Street in Manchester’s University Quarter. It follows that their replacement is to be a block of mid-rise student flats.

While the intensification of the site is a good idea for such a central location in the city, I still lament the loss of the buildings pictured above, which could only ever be from old school Britain. A recent tirade against the studentification of urban centres has presented itself in the media. I fully support the decanting of students from suburban ‘family housing’ into city centres, but I still wish one of the many surrounding tin sheds could pave the way for such a development.

The street will soon be block after block, rather than building after building. I like to see a city grow upwards, but not at the expense of a good solid street frontage.

Halfway House pub, Wyke, Bradford

Outline application for the demolition of a pub to make way for a vehicle service yard:

The Halfway House pub managed to reopen again after Covid-19 lockdowns and was serving the local community well until quite recently at which point the pub suddenly closed, presumably to create a vacant asset ripe for a demolition application.

Clearly a pub in this location is viable, and its demolition would represent the loss of a vital community facility, further eroding the social capital of this already struggling old mill town. Pubs close and reopen all the time. To have been shuttered for 12 months is no indication that it is redundant.

Particularly concerning would be the building’s replacement with a tarmac hardstanding and industrial utility for car repairs and cleaning. This is town centre street, which is characterised by dense built form and elevations facing the road. A mechanics workshop would see a large hole cut out of the urban fabric of central Wyke.

The fact this in an outline application to test the water suggests the applicant knows that this is folly. I hope the Council agree.

An image of the pub from 1908 shows how the pub contributes to the attractive townscape of Wyke.

Valley Mills, Drighlington

Industrial campus to be cleared for a new suburb:

Not the grandest of Yorkshire’s mills, this dark red brick complex of north-light buildings, houses, and mills is to be cleared for a very dull volume house build in this rural location in between the cities of Leeds and Bradford.

A heritage-led masterplan would see the terraced houses retained, and all the two-story elements utilised as a nucleus from which to design the rest of the site. No such vision from the architects that have put together this layout, which suffers from the usual standardised highway widths, corner radii, and housing types.

Even the retention of the road layout would at least leave a token allsuion to the site’s history. And always worth a mention is the incredble waste of embedded carbon which could be saved if the buildings were rennovated and not demolished.