Pioneer House must be given to Kirklees Council

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DEWSBURY’S iconic Pioneer House will be handed to Kirklees Council after a ruling by the Secretary of State.

The decision was announced late this afternoon and means that the Stayton group, which owns the Northgate building, must give the building to the council.

Kirklees applied for a compulsory purchase order on the grounds that the owners had not kept the building in a good enough state of repair – an allegation which Stayton refuted.

A public inquiry was held in November with council, Pioneer House Apartments Limited (part of the Stayton group), mortgagees BM Samuels Finance Group PLC and Best Direct Limited, which leases the first floor of the building, all presenting their cases.

But a detailed report by planning inspector Ava Wood to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, listed the history of the building since Stayton bought it in 2005. It included details of orders the council had served on Stayton to try and force it do repair works and information on what work had been done and what was outstanding.

The report said repair works amounting to £1.3m were still be be done.

It added: “The objectors have shown no desire or intention to address the necessary works in a proper timescale.”

It later said: “If the objectors cannot get the work done or adhere to timetables provided when under the threat of a CPO, there can be no hope of them doing so once this threat is lifted.”

But Stayton argued that much of the work that needed doing was not urgent and would be done as part of development plans to turn Pioneer into retails space and apartments.

A Stayton group spokesman said: “We accept the decision but we are bitterly disappointed.”

Kirklees Council has set aside £3.5m to cover the costs of repairing Pioneer House.

• What do you think? What would you like to see done with the building? Is it too late to save it? Email robert.cooke@ywng.co.uk with your views.