City centre to bloom as over 50 new trees planted

Mature trees from the nursery that grew the saplings in London’s Olympic Park will line Hull’s public realm as the first phase of works nears completion.

Fifty-six trees are currently being planted along Jameson Street, King Edward Street and Queen Victoria Square, with more planned for Beverley Gate and Queen’s Gardens in the spring of 2017.

Once all of the planting is complete, the number of trees in the city centre will have risen overall.

Back in 2015, each new tree was individually selected from a nursery in Holland that specialises in providing mature trees; something not currently available in large quantities in the UK.

Species include Acer Zoeschense, Platanus acerifolia and interesting multi-stem trees for Jameson Street.

Garry Taylor, City Major Projects Manager said:

“The inclusion of trees and high quality street furniture into the city centre public realm is incredibly important in creating a place that people want to spend time and enjoy.

“These trees are already 15 – 25 years old and have been moved and re-planted several times to ensure they have strong fibrous roots that will help them to settle into their new homes successfully.

“They may have their winter coats on now but be assured, once we reach spring, these trees will bloom beautifully and prove to be a valuable addition to our new city centre.”

Tree planting will continue into the New Year with some of the largest, reaching 47ft, installed into Queen Victoria Square this week.

Solar Gate given the green light

Plans for a bespoke timepiece in Queen’s Gardens have today been given the go-ahead by planning councillors.

 The 10m tall artwork is now set to become the centrepiece of a new, grand entrance to Queen’s Gardens, currently under construction.

Once installed, Solar Gate will act as a sundial, highlighting up to 24 key dates that have shaped the history of Hull and the world.

Created from discs of etched stainless steel, the artwork will be crafted by award-winning architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu and integrated in the new York stone paving now being laid in the area.

Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council said:

“I am really pleased with today’s decision from the Planning Committee who have listened to public views on the previous application, and have agreed that this is the right location and design for this very special sculpture.

“The commissioning of world-class artists and the integration of art and creativity into the public realm will reinforce our reputation as a city of culture, not just in 2017 but for decades to come.”

Mike Tonkin, Tonkin Liu said:

“Tonkin Liu are delighted to be delivering a truly innovative structure in the centre of the city to mark the rich history and positive future of the Hull.

“We are very pleased to be marking 2017 City of Culture with a piece that celebrates time through cultural references to the city of Hull.

“The time piece has been designed through computer programming to create a highly accurate alignment with specific solar angles relating to moments in the cultural calendar tailored to Hull. As with the experience of an eclipse, the waiting for the alignments brings the future, the past, and the present into play.

“At night Solar Gate is illuminated with an ever changing lighting display where its delicacy and undulating geometry is revealed and experienced.

“The advanced technology and the innovative undulating structure employs the latest fabrication techniques to make a deceptively delicate but very robust structure.

“10m tall and 4m wide, the artwork is boat-like in plan, gate-like in elevation, mast-like in side elevation, with a taper to just 10cm. The artwork learns lessons from 500 million years of evolution in sea shell form to make a very strong very light piece produced with the latest digital technologies.”

Work will begin on the sculpture immediately and will be crafted off-site then lifted into place to coincide with the completion of the revamp of the entrance to Queen’s Gardens in the New Year.

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Key milestone reached to run Hull Venue and work begins on site

Hull City Council has today (Friday 2 December) confirmed that SMG Europe Holdings Ltd has been awarded preferred bidder status to run Hull’s newest music, events and conference centre. This follows a decision last year for BAM Construction Ltd to build the facility.

Subject to finalisation of the legal agreements for occupation, operation and management, SMG Europe Holdings Ltd will be awarded a 25-year contract to operate Hull Venue, having demonstrated that it offered the best value, following a competitive tendering exercise.

The company, which operates internationally, also runs the nearby First Direct Arena in Leeds, Manchester Arena, York Barbican, and The Baths Hall & Plowright Theatre, both in Scunthorpe, amongst many others, booking acts including Kings of Leon, Strictly Come Dancing Live and Little Mix to name a few.

BAM Construction has already designed and started to build the centre along with a new multi-storey carpark. The company were confirmed as the builder in December 2015 when a Pre-Construction Services Agreement was signed, followed by an Enabling Works package earlier this year. A full contract will follow early 2017.

The company, whose previous projects include First Direct Arena in Leeds, One Angel Square in Manchester and Bridington Leisure Centre, has already started work to clear the site and started the piling for the venue.

Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council said:

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the commitment from the council to this project.

“SMG and BAM both have fantastic reputations in their respective industries and I am delighted to have them both on board.

“Hull Venue is a key landmark scheme, which is critical to the development of the city and our plans to make Hull a world-class visitor destination. 2017 is just the beginning for Hull and these legacy projects will ensure that Hull continues on the journey as a great cultural city after its year in the spotlight.”

John Sharkey, Executive Vice President, European Operations for SMG Europe said:

“We’re delighted to be selected as the preferred bidder to operate the new Hull Venue and we look forward to working with council and the destination marketing team to bring a range of new events to the city, building on what looks like an exciting City of Culture programme.”

BAM Construction Director Jason Pink said:

“We’re bringing a lot of skill and experience to Hull Venue. Several of the team worked on Leeds Arena and bring an understanding of the design issues with them which is helping already.

“We’ve been on site for a few months with preparatory works, and have been working hard on the design challenges of the building so we’re now confident and ready to start on the construction programme.”

The centre will include a 3,500 capacity concert auditorium, with the flexibility to reduce to a 2,500 all-seated event and a 2,000m2 exhibition space, plus an 800 capacity conference auditorium. The centre will open in 2018.

Legal and technical information is being drawn up with SMG prior to the formal documentation being finalised shortly.

Art to return as revamp of Ferens Art Gallery nears completion

Fifteen months after the Ferens closed its doors, the upgrade to the gallery is now complete and contractors, Geo Houlton & Sons Ltd, have packed up and are moving out.

Today (Tuesday 29 November) marks exactly 89 years since the Ferens officially opened to the public and now the keys have been handed back to staff ready to begin the mammoth task of re-hanging the gallery’s beautiful collection.

The refurbishment, that began in September 2015, included the installation of new lighting, humidity and temperature control systems which will allow the gallery to secure the long-term preservation of its important collection and to stage the very best in national and international exhibitions.

The addition of a twelfth gallery to occupy the space currently given to the gift shop, which will now be incorporated together with the extended café area, will offer residents a much-improved experience and ensure the gallery’s future well into the 21st century.

The  carefully cared for collections that have been held in secure, climate-controlled storage will now begin to arrive into the gallery and teams will work around the clock to ensure the gallery is ready for re-opening at the beginning of the year.

Trinity Market early works agreement

Hull City Council has today published a decision record entering into a second early works agreement with Hull Esteem Consortium LEP Limited for the redevelopment on Trinity Indoor Market.

As the market is a listed building, the design and planning process is incredibly complex and therefore plans can take longer to be agreed and signed off. This agreement will ensure the work to the centre will remain on track whilst financial close is reached with the contractor.

Work has already started as food hall stallholders have moved into the mall to clear the area for a complete overhaul. Other works will include the conversion of the old Rumours nightclub into a restaurant space, upgrade of the existing toilets, installations of new floors, roof and lights and improved stalls and layouts.

These further early works will commence this week and include the strip out of the food hall and the installation of hoarding and roof walkways.

Food hall stallholders are expected to be back in the hall in the spring with the total project complete by October 2017.

Woodford early works agreement

Hull City Council has today published a decision record entering into a second early works agreement with Hull Esteem Consortium LEP Limited for the expansion of Woodford Leisure Centre.

The agreement will ensure the work to the centre will remain on track whilst financial close is reached with the contractor.

Work has already started on the extension which will see a brand new 25 metre six-lane swimming pool and learner pool, as well as improved changing facilities.

Additional plans also include new sauna and steam facilities, a café located at the new entrance and enhanced parking facilities. The installation of new environmental technologies will also look to reduce longer term operating costs.

These further early works will commence on 23 November and will include site clearance, design, manufacture and installation of piling mat as well as highways works.

The project expected to complete in early 2018.

Work to begin to restore Pearson Park fountain

Work is to begin on restoring Pearson Park’s historic MacFarlane drinking fountain bowl.

Following the granting of Listed Building Consent in July, the owners of the MacFarlane brand, Hosiers Ltd, will remove the drinking fountain bowl on Thursday (3 November) to allow for its detailed inspection in their workshops in Glasgow.

Once complete, Hosiers Ltd will carry out restoration works on the cast iron structure before re-installing the drinking fountain bowl in the park. It is anticipated that this work will be completed by later this year or early 2017.

Councillor John Fareham, Chairman of the Pearson Park Trust said:

“The restoration of the drinking fountain bowl is being undertaken ahead of the announcement on the outcome of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Parks for People bid for Pearson Park.

“This is to allow Hosiers Ltd to take castings from the drinking fountain bowl that will allow for the reinstatement of an identical MacFarlane structure in Jamestown on the South Atlantic island of St Helena.

“The Pearson Park Trust is keen to support this opportunity to help the national heritage movement and additional restoration work to the drinking fountain canopy which is included within the HLF Parks for People bid.”

The restoration project has already been awarded initial supportfor a grant of £2.3m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) as well as a development grant of £156,600.  An announcement from the HLF on the outcome of the Pearson Park bid is expected in early 2017.

More information on the proposals to restore Pearson Park is available at

Kingswood Parks Primary School set for expansion

Plans to expand Kingswood Parks Primary School have been approved by Hull City Council’s cabinet.

The plans will see the school almost double in size with the now 315 pupil capacity increasing to a 630 pupil capacity school and 52 full time equivalent place nursery.

The extension will provide additional classrooms, group rooms, play space, small hall, studio, staff room and associated toilet provision. It will also see the existing hall extended, the existing Foundation Unit remodelled and the external play areas, car park and multi-use games area altered.

The extension is a result of the success of the ever-growing Kingwood development, which saw 300 new homes built in 2015.

Phil Webster, Portfolio Holder for Learning, Skills and Safeguarding Children said:

“We have a duty to ensure that there are sufficient school places for our children and today’s decision is good news for families.

“These improvements will make a significant difference to the learning environment as well as offering much needed school places on Kingswood.”

Discussions will now begin with the Hull Esteem Consortium LEP Ltd and the scheme is expected to begin in July 2017.

Albion Square Development Plan gets approval from Planning Committee

Planning Committee has today accepted the development brief for Albion Square in the city centre for ‘each or any of the recommended purposes’.

The development brief provides a concept of what scale of redevelopment could be delivered on the site.

When identified in the second wave of Enterprise Zones across the city in 2015 there became a requirement to provide a simplified planning process for assessing applications for the site.  As with other Enterprise Zones across the city this has led to the production of a development brief.  Albion Square was allocated in the Local Plan (which was consulted on over the summer) as a retail-led mixed use development.

The development brief identifies Albion Square as a prime site for regenerating into a space that is likely to feature retail, housing, leisure and enhanced parking facilities. The area earmarked for development encompasses the BHS and Coop building, the Edwin Davies building and the Albion Street car park.

Councillor Martin Mancey, Portfolio Holder for Energy City, said: “The approval of the Albion Square development brief by the planning committee demonstrates the desire to continue the renaissance of the city centre and should support bringing this site forward as a priority in the next few years.

“The creation of the new square outside the former BHS store and the vacation of the entire block now provides an opportunity for a comprehensive redevelopment of the site.  This is the only site of scale within the primary shopping area which could deliver a significant element of the additional retail floor space projected to be needed in the city over the next 15 years.

“The redevelopment of this area is dependent on attracting a private sector developer who is capable of funding, and committed to delivering, redevelopment on this scale within a reasonable timescale.

“We believe that our current investment in the Public Realm, the Ferens, Hull New Theatre and Hull Venue, coupled with major private sector investments including those by Siemens, RB, Smith & Nephew and others, together with the greater visibility of the city on the national and international stage as a result of City of Culture, will make this potential redevelopment a much more attractive proposition to the private sector. We are keen to ensure that parts of the area do not remain vacant indefinitely or are acquired for landbanking purposes.”

Alex Codd, City Planning Manager, added: “It is important that any development in this site is sympathetic to the area, and respects the Georgian New Town Conservation Area, and the retention of the monumental Italian glass mosaic called ‘The Three Ships’.

“This is a key transitional site linking the retail offer on Jameson Street through to the residential offer on Albion Street, and on to the new University Technical College and enhanced New Theatre beyond.”

Plans for Hull’s first public square for 100 years unveiled

Stunning new images of the future King Edward Square have today been revealed. The space is thought to be the city centre’s first new public square in over 100 years, following the development of City Square, later re-named Queen Victoria Square, in the late 1890s.

At the junction where King Edward St and Jameson St meet, King Edward Square will become an open space for use during events, a base for street performers and as a place for people to relax and enjoy the city’s new public realm. Fresh tree lines and street furniture will stretch through the square reaching down to the end of Jameson St that meets George St and new lighting will complete the new look.

The current roadways of Jameson and King Edward Streets are also be pedestrianised and incorporated into the square to create a much larger and open space than the area previously offered.

Councillor Steven Bayes, Portfolio Holder for Visitor Destination said:

“King Edward Square will be an exciting new events space, as well as the city’s newest public space for many years.

“With our year as UK City of Culture just around the corner, the square will provide a central point for visitors from each end of the city centre and a great location for summer events as part of the fantastic programme the Culture Company are designing for next year.”

The work to the square will continue as part of the current public realm works and will be completed by March 2017.