University for Wakefield moves closer after £1bn deal for regional economy

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall

A university campus in the city could be a step closer after a £1bn deal was struck to boost the regional economy.

Wakefield Council said plans to build a university campus has been boosted by £150m in funding for the district for transport and infrastructure schemes over the next 10 years.

The cash is part of a £1bn funding package for the Leeds City Region, a group of local authorities which includes Wakefield.

Council chief executive Joanne Roney said the funding would help a separate bid by Wakefield College to the government’s Skills Capital Programme to provide facilities for higher education students in the city.

She said: “The district firmly believes that the way forward for economic growth is through having access to higher levels of skills and that is why we are bidding for funding from the Skills Capital programme to create a university centre for Wakefield.

“We hope that this announcement will help drive this forward.”

Ian Wainwright, assistance principal at the college, said the bid was for cash to build an advanced skills and innovation centre, where students could study degree level courses and apprenticeships.

He said: “It would be a step towards providing a university centre in Wakefield.

“We welcome this funding. It’s great news, and we are hopeful that our bid will be successful.”

Wakefield’s £150m deal will also fund transport projects including the Pontefract Link Road, which is already being built and is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs.

The City Fields development, which is expected to bring 350 homes, 900 permanent jobs and 500 construction jobs on the east of the city, will also benefit from the deal.

Council leader Peter Box said: “This announcement is great news for the district and we will do all we can to make sure that Wakefield continues to benefit from this funding.”

“The deal will be used to accelerate the Southern Gateway of the wider City Fields development which will provide major housing growth in the area.

“It will also enable the removal of old structures and remediation of the former power station site.”

The deal also includes a £573m settlement between 2015 and 2021 from the government’s Local Growth Fund to help business create jobs.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said: “I welcome this funding for Wakefield and the wider region. The new housing at City Fields is sorely needed as under this government house building has fallen to its lowest level since the 1920s.”

People can find out more about plans for a Wakefield Eastern Relief Road, part of the City Fields development, at two drop-in events next week.

They will be held at the St Swithun’s Community Centre, Arncliffe Road, Eastmoor, from 3pm-8pm on Tuesday, and at Agbrigg and Belle Vue Community Centre, on Montague Street, at the same time on Wednesday.