Approval for Huddersfield scheme too late for firm

jcaPractice that designed £100m regeneration plan closed last year
Winning planning permission for a £100 million regeneration project would be cause for celebration at most practices. But for the architects who designed HD One — a mixed-use scheme in Huddersfield that features an artificial ski slope, a casino, a hotel, housing, offices and shops — the granting of permission last week was bittersweet. It has emerged that the firm responsible for the plans, London-based John Clark Associates, closed last year, a victim of the recession. Richard Walters, a former director of JCA, said a decision was made to wind up the firm after it lost three of its biggest clients in the credit crunch. Walters and three other JCA directors have now set up a new firm, WCB Design, and hope to continue to work on the Huddersfield scheme. JCA was founded in 1981. Its main areas were retail, commercial, residential and leisure and it had offices on Charing Cross Road and a client roster that included British Rail, HBOS, the Hammerson Group, Land Securities and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. “It became obvious that it wasn’t working, and all the directors wanted to go off in different directions so we decided to cease trading,” said Walters. He also dismissed this week’s news that the recession is now officially over. “It is still extremely tough out there,” he added. Ralph Rimmer, managing director of KSDL, the developer behind the HD One project, said he intended to lodge a full planning application for the site by the end of this year, and to begin the 40-month construction project within 12 to 18 months of that. “HD One will have the wow factor,” he said. “It’s a statement of intent, a chance to take the town’s destiny in our own hands.” Following last week’s approval by Kirklees Council, the development will be built on a 21ha site close to the city’s Galpharm Stadium, home to Huddersfield Town football club and Huddersfield Giants rugby league club. Despite the size of the proposal, a spokeswoman for Cabe confirmed that the design watchdog had never reviewed HD One.

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