Compulsory purchase orders will be ‘last resort’ as £48m project offers ‘once in a lifetime’ chance to transform Wakefield and Castleford

Compulsory purchase orders will only be used as a “last resort” to meet a strict deadline to obtain £48m of funding to transform the centres of Wakefield and Castleford, a meeting heard.

By Tony Gardner
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 11:10 am
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2022, 11:09 am

Wakefield Council has approved a plan to use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) “in principle” to enable ambitious development projects to go ahead.

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

The Towns Fund awarded £23.9m to Castleford and £24.9m to Wakefield in 2019 after bids were invited to improve transport, regeneration, digital infrastructure, connectivity, skills and culture.

Illustration shows how the Cathedral Quarter is to be transformed.

Councillor Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration and economic growth, said: “These grants are time limited and the work must be completed by March 2026.

“There is no extension on this date under the current rules and these are very tight schedules.

“Approving this report gives the council, in principle, the opportunity to use CPOs should they be unable to secure the property following extensive negotiations.

“Let’s be clear, we are not saying that we are going to use CPOs on any properties.

Cormac Hamilton, Chair of Wakefield High Street Task Force, and Councillor Darren Byford, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, on Bread Street in Wakefield city centre.

“The CPOs will only be used if necessary.

“We should also stress that implementation of the CPO would be the last resort after all other options have been exhausted.”

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The Cabinet agreed to the use in principle of CPO powers, only if necessary, in relation to seven properties on Bridge Street and Aire Street to enable the ‘Riverside Destination’ project.These powers would only be used as a last resort, following negotiations and discussions, in circumstances when all other options to acquire properties have been exhausted.

Properties include the former Ship Inn pub and neighbouring business units and flats.

CPO powers could also be used to obtain three commercial properties on Carlton Street to enable the ‘Hart of Castleford’ project.

That scheme involves transforming Henry Moore Square into a “new vibrant and active heart of the town centre.”

The proposed residential and commercial development site extends from the former ABC Cinema to the Wilko store on Kirkgate, to Sun Lane and Marsh Way.

The Council is also seeking to “acquire and demolish” properties at the bottom of Bread Street in order to build a new public square.

Coun Byford added: “In order for a CPO to be made, we as a Council must have made an offer to the building owners in line with current market values, plus reasonable related costs.

“Then and only then could we start the CPO process.

“The use of a CPO is not easy, and it is one that we have no desire to use.

“However, this report gives the Council the ability to use them if, and only if, it is necessary.

“When we have completed these two major Towns Fund projects in Castleford and Wakefield, the benefit will be noticable and positive for residents and business alike.

“This level of funding is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a real, positive, difference in Wakefield and Castleford city and town centres.”