Mixed reception for £50m Knottingley transformation

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Plans to transform Knottingley and Ferrybridge over the next 10 years have been given a mixed reception from the town’s public.

The council is pumping £50m into the area in a bid to improve economic prospects and people’s health.

Hill Top and the Warwick Estate, Knottingley

Hill Top and the Warwick Estate, Knottingley

But at the project’s official launch at Kellingley Social Club, a number of residents voiced fears that some of the proposed ideas won’t go deep enough to tackle the area’s problems.

Around £25m will be spent on building a relief road, connecting Womersley Road with the M62, slightly east of Junction 33.

Cash will also be used to fund skills training for the unemployed and on extra sports provision for those unable to get to the soon-to-be-built leisure centre at Pontefract Park. But several people cited the closure of Knottingley Sports Centre in 2017 as an example that the area is losing out, and suggested that the picture was unlikely to change soon.

Resident Philip Butterfield said: “There is scepticism. I’ve lived here since 2000 and in that time all I’ve seen, predominantly, is things taken away from the town.

“So after all those years that scepticism is understandable. Promises have been made and not kept. There was a development plan a few years ago for the sports centre here and we know where that is now.”

Kellingley Social club’s steward Paul Green runs the building on behalf of the council. It’s used by several different community groups throughout the week and also hosts receptions for funerals and christenings. But Mr Green said that the venue was being hurt by anti-social behaviour and that cash was desperately needed to secure its future as a place to unite the community.

“There’s kids here pretty much every night causing problems,” he said. “It’s because they’re bored and they’ve got nothing to do.

“Now the sports centre’s closed and they’ve got even less to do.

“The meeting was all very positive and lovely, but when’s something going to start happening?” Others pointed to the plans for skills workshops to help the unemployed as evidence that the school system is failing to prepare young people for life as adults.

Nearly 40 per cent of people in Knottingley have no qualifications.

A further drop-in session will held next month at Kellingley Social Club for residents to look at the plans.

The session will run 3pm to 7pm on Tuesday, April 2.

Plans on display will include the proposals for a £1 million extension and refurbishment to the Kellingley Sports Pavilion.

There are more than 90 projects planned as part of the scheme and the council said nearly two thirds to be completed within two years.

‘Projects will help town’

Wakefield Council has outlined objectives for its £50 million plan for Knottingley.

It hopes to help residents become financially stable by helping hundreds of people into work or education.

It hopes to build up to 2,500 new homes and create more than 200 hectares of new employment land.

It wants to “diversify” the town centre and improve the night time economy.

And it wants to support businesses to make an impact in the district and provide a range of business spaces that would encourage companies to relocate to and invest in the area.