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Byline: Richard Porritt ,

Wind and rain blamed for demolition delay on shell TODAY the half-built Castle Hill Hotel should be gone. When owners the Thandi Partnership were told last November the shell of the planned hotel had to come down, January 11 was the date given for completion.

But due to a late start and bad weather a lot of work still needs to be done. Kirklees Council have acknowledged the problems and are giving the partnership more time.

The Thandis have to return the site of the hotel back to its original state - building gone, holes filled and the land re-turfed.

It will be the first time since 1811 there has been no public house - or at least a half-built shell of one - on the hill in the shadow of the landmark Victoria Tower.

In 1998 the Thandi Partnership bought the pub with a view to improving the building.

Their initial plan included a mock turret on top of the pub but this led to a public outcry.

Already the people of Huddersfield had made their voice heard about what they thought was suitable for the historic site.

The vast majority were also against proposals to extend the building to allow more bar space downstairs and a restaurant on the first floor.

A petition was organised by campaigner Barbara Dworskyj, of Lindley, and more than 2,600 people signed to show their disgust at the plans.

The developers took heed and the turret was scrapped.

Plans were modified and by February 1999 the new improved drawings were on display at the Town Hall.

But people were still not happy with the ideas. The kitchen was still to be extended to cater for the restaurant but the Thandis now offered a mini bus to take people from a car park elsewhere to the pub in an attempt to address worries about parking and increased traffic.

Speaking to the Examiner at the time protester Clifford Hardy, of Castle Hill Side, said: "I don't see how anybody in Huddersfield can be happy with these plans.

"How can anybody even contemplate destroying 4,000 years of history?

"People go up to Castle Hill to enjoy the beautiful countryside not look at a car park."

Another plan submitted to councillors was refused. But in May 2000 the plans that would finally be approved went before the planning committee.

Finally after a marathon two years of talks, arguments and negotiations in June 2002 a planning meeting had to decide on the future of Castle Hill.

At that final, heated meeting Mr Clifford spoke out again claiming the crowds that would be attracted to Castle Hill would ruin it.

"Any town in the country would be trying to preserve something like this, not having it run over by thousands of people. This is a beautiful spot and it's going to be ruined unless something is done," he said.

"This pub has got big enough as it is. It doesn't need to be any bigger."

His pleas fell on deaf ears and it was agreed developers could begin work on knocking parts of the old building down and extending to make room not only for a larger kitchen but 10 bedrooms as well.

More delays meant the wrecking balls did not move in until September 2003 and a nervous public were watching.

Almost as soon as the workmen began people grew concerned about the amount of demolition.

The developers claimed much of the building was in disrepair.

Even the famous central tower was unsafe and would have to be replaced.

But the Thandis had a target to get it rebuilt and ready for business by Easter 2004.

By May 2004 work was not complete - in fact Kirklees Council had dramatically halted it and slapped an enforcement notice on the Thandi brothers after it was discovered the hotel was being built too big and too high.

The Thandis appealed but a massive public outcry left them and the council with no choice but to face the people.

More than 250 people packed in to the Town Hall in August to make their views known.

Deputy leader of the council John Smithson said: "To put it simply, planning permission was given for a refurbishment of the Castle Hill pub which we were pleased with.

"But the problem is what has been built so far is not what was agreed."

In November, just weeks before a public inquiry was to be held, the Thandis dropped their appeal and work on finally getting the skeleton of the new Castle Hill hotel down began.

But wind and rain has hindered the demolition. It is now expected the building will be down in the coming weeks.

The Thandis have not given up and now Lockwood-based design firm One 17 AD are working on new plans for Castle Hill.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2005
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