Ambitious projects in Sowerby Bridge are progressing well as part of the £2 million programme to revitalise the high street.
The Old Town Hall and the Fire & Water complex are two of the key schemes benefiting from £2 million from the Government’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme.
The national programme is a £95 million Government-funded initiative led by Historic England and designed to secure lasting improvements to historic high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery and breathing new life into them for future generations.
Sowerby Bridge Town Board members visited the Old Town Hall (the former bank) in the town centre to see the latest progress, ahead of their meeting on Tuesday 11 October.
Working with Calderdale Council, Historic England and Dimestage Construction, 22 The Square is restoring the Grade II listed building to bring it back into commercial use after being empty since 2018. As one of the most historically and architecturally important structures in Sowerby Bridge, the project is a significant part of the ongoing regeneration of the town and the protection of local heritage.
The Town Board members saw the works undertaken so far, including structural steelwork to stabilise the roof, replacement roof coverings and leadwork, extensive cleaning and repointing of the stonework and the removal, restoration and reinstatement of the beautiful 19th century clock. Windows have been repaired or replaced and secondary glazing for thermal and acoustic insulation has been provided throughout. The electrical services have been replaced and the ground floor banking hall restored with materials appropriate to a building of this age and importance.
The building was also recently visited by the Council’s Cabinet Member for Towns, Engagement and Public Health, Cllr Sarah Courtney, Council officers and representatives from Historic England, Richard Butterfield (Partnerships Team Leader, North East & Yorkshire Region) and Craig Broadwith (Historic Places Advisor for Yorkshire), who also viewed the progress being made at the Fire & Water complex (the former Council offices, swimming pool and fire station).
Work is well underway to transform this heritage building into a thriving community hub. The initial works, including a new roof, new windows and ensuring the building is watertight, are due to be complete this year. The Sowerby Bridge Fire & Water community group recently won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Cllr Sarah Courtney, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Towns, Engagement and Public Health, said:
“It’s wonderful to see so much positive work underway in Sowerby Bridge as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. This partnership between the Council and Historic England will revitalise the high street through its distinctive heritage, culture and community – supporting our commitment to see Calderdale’s towns thrive.
“The new Fire & Water community hub and the refurbished Old Town Hall will help to bring more visitors and local people into this vibrant, historic town centre.”
Craig Broadwith from Historic England said:
“We are excited to be helping to fund the transformation of the Old Town Hall and the Fire & Water complex through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone. Once completed, these two handsome historic buildings will play a valuable role reenergising Sowerby Bridge’s town centre and be a source of local pride.”
Further projects in the Sowerby Bridge High Street Heritage Action Zone programme include the planned improvement of the junction of Hollins Mill Lane and Town Hall Street, and a high street shop front improvement scheme, which is now open and offering businesses and property owners on Wharf Street up to 80% contribution towards improvement works. Businesses and property owners interested in this scheme can contact Rob Shipway, Calderdale Council’s Programme Manager, at email@example.com
Complementing the Heritage Action Zone investment into Sowerby Bridge, plans to reopen Foundry Street Youth and Community Centre are moving forward. In January 2022, the Council’s Cabinet gave approval to offer the building as a community asset transfer. A community group expressed its interest in reopening the building as a community centre for local groups and organisations. At the Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 10 October, Members gave approval for officers to work with the community group to progress its expression of interest to a full business case within six months.
Preserving the unique heritage features in Sowerby Bridge supports the Vision 2024 for Calderdale to be distinctive and resilient. In the year 2024, Calderdale will celebrate its 50th birthday. Where do we want to be by 2024? Join the conversation by following #VisionCdale2024 on social media and visit www.calderdale.gov.uk/vision