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Montague, LM., Powell, A., Swindells, S., 2015.

The Civic Role of the University in Post-Industrial Towns: Public Memory, Urban Identities and Creative Consultation

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:The Urban University Conference: Universities as place makers and agents of civic success
Venue:The Collaborative Centre for the Built Environment (CCBE), The University of Northampton, Northampton
Dates:2/7/2015 - 3/7/2015

With a population of approximately 146,000 and rising, Huddersfield is a large Pennine town originally built on a booming textile industry. It boasts a rich vista of historical architecture, including a much celebrated neo-classical railway station and a plethora of striking Victorian mills set in a distinctive rural landscape. A large amount of the town is listed for protection by English Heritage. However, this architectural legacy is contrasted against areas of the town centre that exemplify the principles of 1960s/70s architecture, planning and urban design: for example a ring road which prioritises motorised transport over the pedestrian, physically and perceptively segregating the town centre from the surrounding communities including the university campus.

However, despite these challenges, there exists an aspiration within the University to be more civic minded. This paper explores the concept of the civic university and cultural leadership in context to public engagement in Huddersfield - and whether the concept of the civic university can address and ameliorate challenges within society and the university sector towards a greater good. For the purposes of this paper the term 'civic' could be defined as good citizenship; processes for citizen engagement; a healthy democracy; community participation; culture, skills and education. It is to notions public memory and urban identities; and to how methods of creative consultation might be used to engage with the town.