Wakefield Council task force will lead investment of £50 million towns fund cash for city and Castleford

Wakefield Council has won a £48.8m slice of a £3.6bn Government funding pot to bring forward regeneration and investment projects.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 4:45 pm

The Towns Fund has awarded £24.9m to Wakefield and £23.9m to Castleford after the city and town were invited in 2019 to bid for monies to improve transport, regeneration, digital infrastructure, connectivity, skills and culture.

Both Wakefield and Castleford will now continue to work in partnership with their task force to develop full business cases for each project. The task force groups include representatives from the council, local businesses, key stakeholders, the wider communities and local MPs.

Wakefield’s projects include bringing good quality new homes to the Kirkgate area, and for the city to also house new commercial office space, hotel provision and public realm enhancements.

Castleford’s projects include opening up the riverside at Castleford, and introducing residential homes, a new skills and flexible working hub, and also public realm enhancements.

The Towns Fund monies come on top of investment the council has already made and will be making across the district to support its city and town centres.

This includes, over the next four years the council’s capital programme of £355m of capital investment in the district to positively support the district, its residents and local businesses. This significant investment will be used to drive regeneration and economic growth, while supporting schools and other essential services that the Council provides.

The council has a series of Masterplans underway for Wakefield, Pontefract and Knottingley and Ferrybridge. At full council last week it was announced that masterplans will be extended to include other towns across the district, each with an individual plan, which will shape each place, giving residents and businesses opportunities to input ideas into the process.

Coun Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “This is great news for the district, giving us a great opportunity to progress our ambitious long terms plans to enhance Wakefield, Castleford and our wider district and provide a welcome boost to our local economy.

“Our plans will bring more people to live and work in our city and town centres by creating vibrant communities.

“This funding will help us to move forward with our plans, and the investment will also support out economic strategy and support the district’s recovery from Covid-19.”

Both Wakefield and Castleford set up a Taskforce – (Town Deal Boards), attended by representatives of the the community, business and charity sectors, and politicians to plan for the applications. The successful outcome means proposals can now progress to a Full Business Case stage, involving detailed planning, and for agreements to be made on specific projects.

Cormac Hamilton, Chair of the Wakefield High Street Task Force, said: "This is superb news for Wakefield city centre and testament to the swift, detailed work undertaken by everyone involved. The Task Force brings together private businesses, the Council and our local MP with a focus on four key projects which we can now begin in earnest. There's a lot of work to be done, but given the strides we've already made in just over six months, we're incredibly excited and confident in the future. This funding will enable us to realise some of our plans for the city centre which will benefit businesses, visitors and the entire city.

"Work will now begin to take our four projects forwards which includes the creation of a hotel and accommodation at the old Westgate station, better connections to the city from the Bread Street area and a major revamp of the Kirkgate area. This all forms part of the wider masterplan for the entire city centre which highlights the confidence people have in Wakefield."

It is anticipated that work on projects could begin at the earliest in late 2022.