Fears centre could close

Members of Batley Carr community centre are worried their centre may have to close.
Members of Batley Carr community centre are worried their centre may have to close.

Kirklees Council wants to build new houses in Batley Carr, sparking fears a community centre could close.

The council’s Physical Resources and Procurement team has applied to the planning authority to build 16 new flats in Upper Road.

It wants to demolish the derelict Dewsbury Little Theatre building and replace it with one and two-bedroom flats and a car park.

A council-owned car park would also be replaced if the plans are approved.

The church over the road is home to the Trinity Centre and its members fear it is under threat as a result.

Chairman Bill Thompson said losing the car park would be detrimental to the group.

“The new car park will only have 21 spaces, which is not enough,” he said.

“We host a lot of functions like Asian weddings and receptions and the car park is always packed out.

“If we only have reduced spaces available then it could see people go elsewhere.”

The Trinity Centre hosts groups such as karate, a luncheon club and majorettes.

It also provides hot meals and food parcels for the homeless two days a week.

Mr Thompson believes they will no longer be able to offer these services should the plans be approved.

“My concern is the centre will fall away,” he said. “If it is not viable to hold the events then the centre will close, which could then mean the church will close. It is a great building and has been here since 1841. It is full of history and that would be lost.”

Members from the community group met earlier this week to discuss their next step against the proposal.

The group has a 428-name petition but may start another one should members feel it is necessary.

Mr Thompson said: “Don’t get me wrong, we welcome building houses in Batley and we want more people to come into the area.

“The more custom for the centre will also mean more people coming to the church.

“But at the same time we must have parking. The car park is always full to its capacity and without it we might have people parking on the streets.

“I know a lot of residents would not be happy about that happening.”

Kirklees Council confirmed a site notice would be put up this week.

Public consultation would then be open for the next 21 days.