New West Yorkshire fire headquarters in Birkenshaw set to get the green light

A planned new headquarters for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to replace the current facility in Birkenshaw is set to be approved this week.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 13th July 2022, 6:00 am

The new three-storey complex is to be built on the existing 3.6-acre site on Bradford Road where the existing training centre and occupational health buildings are to be pulled down.

The Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) building at the southern entrance to the site will be extended to become a new fire station incorporating the existing Cleckheaton station, which is to close.

It will be 35m (114ft) wide, 105m (344ft) long and 7m (23ft) high and will have three extra bays for fire service vehicles.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters, Birkenshaw

Parking spaces on site will increase by 19, from 321 to 340.

Grade II-listed Oakroyd Hall, a Victorian villa at the north-west corner of the site that provides office space for senior managers, is not affected by the new plans.

The buildings scheduled for demolition have been described as being “at the end of their useful life”, with their replacements representing “modern, purpose-built facilities”.

A report to Kirklees Council’s strategic planning committee (July 14), where the scheme is recommended for approval, says: “The purpose of the new training centre/headquarters building will be two-fold.

Cleckheaton Fire Station, on Hightown Road

"It will allow existing operations on the Birkenshaw and Cleckheaton sites to be consolidated into a fit-for-purpose building.

"Secondly, the building will be much more operationally and energy efficient.”

Standing three storeys high, the new building will be lower than the existing four-storey training centre and will be “overall less imposing”, though it will be 25 per cent bigger in terms of floor space.

The HQ façade will be in buff brick with the training exterior clad in aluminium above a brick plinth.

The northern elevation will also be 10m closer to some homes on neighbouring Oakroyd View, though the planning report says the increased proximity is “tempered” by the lower height of the new building.

On that basis the development “does not pose a risk to incurring unreasonable levels of light loss or overbearance”.

West Yorkshire Fire Authority decided in 2020 to close the existing Cleckheaton Fire Station on Hightown Road as part of an ongoing 10-year programme of reconfiguration. Fire chiefs said that the move could save £2m.

Critics described it as “a poor decision” and expressed concern that the relocation could impact response times.

Chairman of West Yorkshire Fire Authority, Coun Darren O’Donovan, argued: “The proposal is not to close Cleckheaton Fire Station.

"The proposal is to relocate all the appliances and all the firefighters to the HQ site.”