Come on people – ‘Slide One Out for Kingsgate!’

The next phase in our campaign to stop the Kingsgate Shopping Expansion in Huddersfield is a side-running Campaign to Erect Kingsgate Water Slide Park!

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Yes, Kingsgate Phase 2 might well be on its knees for now because of Kirklees Council’s planning approval of the redevelopment of the iconic Palace Theatre in Huddersfield, which should ensure that Kingsgate owners W D Huddersfield can never build through it and thus not take out The Parish, the town’s premier alternative music venue, with it. Hopefully, that runs for several other properties in the surrounding area too, because who knows if Kingsgate 2 is gone for good?

While we wait for the next move from Peter Everest and co., we should inform you of a side-running campaign that perhaps originally began purely as spoof, through the form of two local news reports detailing plans to turn Kingsgate into Huddersfield’s premier venue for slip n’ slide action…

Look North – Huddersfield Kingsgate Water Park Development – 23.03.12
 

Look North – Kingsgate Swimming vs Shopping – 13.04.12

Thanks to those reports the campaign has even had backing from Kirklees Council’s Green Party Councillor for Newsome, Andrew Cooper. Now, the campaign has taken a new turn with the release of a campaign song.

‘Slide One Out for Kingsgate’ is a song dedicated to the dream of erecting a water slide park at Kingsgate Shopping Centre, in the hope that we can get this approved instead of more bland high street shops. The song is sung by local pop superstar Bona, featuring producer extraordinaire Hercalees Kelk and a triumphant solo from none other than Evile’s very own guitar king, Ol Drake!

The song is streaming below people, and now, more than ever, we need you to spread the word of this noble cause. It’ll bring a touch of diversity that Huddersfield’s town centre sorely needs, but more importantly, it’s a water slide park. So hit that play button below, and spread the word. Cos all we wanna do is slide! (Slide, slide, slide, slide…)

Peter Clegg

Bona feat. H. Kelk – Slide One Out for Kingsgate

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The Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Expansion: Palace Theatre approved!

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Resounding 11-0 in favour of redevelopment

Very recently, we promoted planned action against Huddersfield’s Kingsgate Shopping Centre by issuing direct support for a plan to redevelop the Palace Theatre, the historic venue that once hosted Harry Houdini, into twenty three student flats to accommodate 87 students, with an additional bar and restaurant. The owners of the Palace Theatre, Kirkgate Residence, argued that this would boost the local economy, the university and college, and indeed the surrounding area for years to come. We Must Obey, backing the Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Expansion, wholly backed this, ourselves seeing it as a chance to additionally protect Huddersfield’s burgeoning alternative music and arts scene (with top music venue The Parish directly under threat from Kingsgate), and to retain vital aspects of its history and architecture.

After months of deliberations in an application that was vigorously opposed by W D Huddersfield and Kingsgate; that was yesterday recommended for approval for a THIRD time, we have some exciting news.

The plans were approved!

That’s right – Kirklees Council’s planning committee finally got decisive, not bowing to some emotive language used by W D Huddersfield MD Peter Everest when, among other things, he attempted to implicate that scaffolding work outside Kingsgate would endanger jobs inside, and efforts to state the flats would cause untold traffic problems in the area were described at one point as ‘clutching at straws(indeed, it overlooks the traffic issues that Kingsgate Phase 2 itself would cause). But the main devil in the detail is the decisiveness of the vote. 11-0. That’s right. All eleven sub-committee members voted in favour, with only the chair, Cllr Cliff Priest, and his Labour colleague, Cllr Ken Smith, abstaining. The decision was widely applauded in the council chamber and Everest was left to skulk off like the proverbial bulldog chewing a wasp. Face it Everest, you snoozed…you lost.

Mr. Simmy Sekhon, owner of Kirkgate Residence, says he has the funding and contracts in place to begin work in three months. The Palace certainly needs it – I pass it on the bus nearly every morning travelling to work and for such a historic building, it is in such a decaying state. I applaud any efforts to make it useful and proud again and more so for the overall good it will do for the town.

It’s just a shame that not everyone sees it that way, with local paper The Examiner skewing firmly in favour of Kingsgate by echoing Everest’s sentiments, from the off about disruption and loss of jobs inside Kingsgate. They’re still reporting that Kingsgate 2 offers 23 new stores and 900 new jobs, when a later report have suggested only 10 new stores, six of those large ones – therefore presumably less new jobs. Sure, I might be skewed the other way, but I’m a supporter of the Palace and against Kingsgate 2 and my views are purely those. Views. News outlets should be completely unbiased. Besides, if there are to be jobs lost at Kingsgate in the meantime – and believe me, I don’t want anyone to lose their job – the impact of Kingsgate 2 would surely have a detrimental effect across the whole town, as it already has. The loss of jobs in existing town centre stores, whether high street or independent, in the much greater cause for concern. So Everest, give me the proof of which jobs are at risk. And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll believe you.

With media like this and the spectre of Everest hovering about, I personally don’t think the Campaign ends there, certainly if we’re looking at protecting businesses along Cross Church Street which are possibly still endangered by Kingsgate’s Phase 2 proposals – certainly the word is businesses along that street haven’t been consulted, and that even then the various owners are unwilling to sell. It certainly won’t stop W D aiming to swallow up whatever existing land they can get. I would like to think that the Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Expansion doesn’t end just because of victory for a neighbouring building that potentially acts as a safeguard to the Parish. If we’re truly about something, I’d love to see us carry on our work and at least fight for an independent local economy. Therefore, if you’re reading this and you’re already a part of the campaign, and even if you’re not; this is one victory in a wider campaign. Kingsgate 2 might well be on its knees, but I personally suspect Everest won’t take this lying down, even if it means every dirty trick in the book. It isn’t over until it’s truly over.

For now though, we celebrate. Congratulations to Kirkgate Residence, and a big pat on the back for Ian French for organising the supporting action for the Palace to help get it over the line. In fact, thank you to everyone who has been a part of this campaign thus far. Its a pleasure to be associated with you all.

This is hopefully the beginning of the regeneration that Huddersfield really needs – with its place as up and coming hotbed of live music hopefully now assured, we should now look to encouraging boosting its high street in a way not really considered by the likes of Everest. Through diversity and innovation, without blinkers and a view to changing where and how people shop.

And if Kingsgate 2 rears its ugly ahead again – we will be ready.

Peter Clegg

Campaign to Stop the Kingsgate Expansion (Facebook)

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