The Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Expansion – protests Thursday 12th July, 2012

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Action taking place Thursday 12th July

A while back, when I was still basing We Must Obey on Blogger, I wrote a lengthy article asking for support for a campaign based in Huddersfield to prevent what, if it is allowed to go ahead, the potential damage to Huddersfield’s vibrant alternative music and arts scene, as well as more of its proud architecture, history, and indeed its local economy. The ‘it’ in question, is the proposed development of Kingsgate 2, an extension to the already existing Kingsgate Shopping Centre that will see it expand outwards by 50%, swallowing up the historic Palace Theatre, the Parish pub (Huddersfield’s premier music venue and oldest pub at 292 years old) and Oldgate House, all listed buildings, as well as numerous smaller businesses and reputable establishments in the nearby vicinity. Such a development, we argue, will lead to further cannibilisation to a town centre already struggling with numerous empty shops following the UK’s recession, stuttering recovery and indeed the aforementioned local effect of Kingsgate.

A ray of light has emerged in recent months that I have personally kept silent on the blog until now. The Palace Theatre, which sits over the road from the Parish, was bought by Kirkgate Residence who have submitted plans to turn the Palace, a former theatre that once hosted Harry Houdini, into 23 flats to house 87 students, as well as a bar and restaurant. A decision was due to be taken on this proposal back in March – however, the local planning sub-committee arm of the council have deferred the decision numerous times based on traffic flow concerns, despite concerns appearing to have been allayed by traffic officers and the developers. The latest decision, due just over five weeks ago, was again deferred after a corrupted disc, purportedly containing data showing the negative impact of increased traffic in the Kirkgate area in light of the development going ahead, was submitted at the 11th hour.

W D Huddersfield Ltd, the owners of Kingsgate Shopping Centre, are strongly opposing these plans and have made their case in person and in writing several times. They already have outline planning permission to develop Kingsgate 2, but failed to seize the Palace Theatre when it was available on the market. The Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Expansion, therefore, is moving to support the application to renovate the long derelict Palace into student accomodation for the long-term benefit of Huddersfield.

A demonstration is to be held on Thursday 12th July, setting off from The Parish at 12pm and marching towards the Town Hall for 1pm. It’s recommended you meet at The Parish. The protest is expected to last until 2pm, making our voice heard when the Palace plans are again put to crucial vote by the planning sub-committee. We aim to rid them of indecision and convince them instead to make a decisive decision on the plans for the Palace Theatre, one we hope will see the plans approved and Kingsgate 2 thrown into disarray and possibly KO’d altogether.

If there is anyone out there not already a part of our group but behind our campaign, your support is vital.

More information is available directly from the campaign’s Facebook page, where you can have your say prior to the day and be up to date with all information about the day of action.

Our voice will be heard. High street retailing as we know it is dead. Innovation is required. Through this action, not only will Huddersfield’s music scene be protected, so will its architecture, its history, and its local economy will begin to thrive – which is what is needed for Huddersfield to ultimately innovate – which itself is another battle for the future.

Thank you for reading. We hope to see you on Thursday.

Peter Clegg

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