Vision of Wakefield’s future

Change, it has been said, is the only constant and rightfully so because that is how we modernise and progress so that we can realise the potential of the district.

We are looking ahead to see what’s needed in the next 10 years so that everyone can be prepared and able to respond to new challenges we all face.

Wakefield has an interesting history. The city centre did not start as a place for trade but was originally a meeting place. Later, market stalls sprung up to take advantage of the captive audience. Eventually, it has evolved into what we know as the high street.

With changes in consumer shopping habits, including the growing popularity of internet shopping, high streets up and down the country need to respond to these challenges and repurpose themselves to meet the changing needs of customers, and Wakefield is no different.

This is not an issue that the Council alone can solve, it; needs collective thought and action and that’s why we’re bringing together partners to address these challenges, and is why earlier this year we held a High Street summit, to discuss ideas.

Graphic
Wakefield District economic strategy sets out long-term goals.

By working with people in education, arts, business, marketing and other disciplines, we are looking ahead to what the changing face of Wakefield will be in the 2020s and 2030s.

To help put some plans into action we’ve secured a share of the Stronger Town Funding and the High Streets Development Fund as we continue to play our part in the goal of revitalising our town and city centres.

We are also working with partners to address the skills and training that’s needed to respond to changes in work.

For example, we are looking at how technology will be changing, how it will affect job roles and how we as a district can collectively prepare so that the employees of today do not lose out to robots of the future.

Our economic strategy sets out our long-term goals. One year into that programme we have achieved much in a short space including:

  • 1,140 new jobs
  • 2,100 new homes including 350 affordable homes
  • £350million+ of inward investment secured
  • Helping 400 residents, furthest from the job market, into employment or training
  • £1.8million of capital grants provided to Wakefield businesses, leveraging £17million of private sector investment and creating more than 790 jobs.

As part of our continued commitment to local communities we are also developing Masterplans for Knottingley, Pontefract Castleford and Wakefield city centre, to drive forward the revitalisation of our town and city centres.

Wakefield District’s Economic Growth Strategy goals

Our Step Up programme is providing advice on employment and skills. Whilst the Employment Hub will support and engage 800 young people and aim to secure employment for more than 300.  It received a boost when we recently secured a £3.4million funding pot to provide tailored support and training.

We also have a strong cultural offer and have secured £4.4m of funding to support us to grown this sector, to support investment in training to skill up our workforce. This is part of our role to encourage business growth and provide opportunities to help people to get better jobs.

We’ve looked across the globe at how cities and countries have successfully adapted to change. We know if relies on raised productivity, good jobs, better incomes and well-being, high-level skills in a higher-value economy, great places and a cultural offer – all things we’ve included in our economic strategy 2018 – 2023 to make sure that our people, places and businesses succeed.

My ambition for our district is as strong as ever as we work hard with partners to meet the challenges of the present and the future, securing long-term prosperity for the district.

Peter Box CBE
Peter Box CBE
Councillor Box has been Leader of Wakefield Council since August 1998 and has succeeded in leading the transformation of Wakefield MDC into a modern, efficient and high performing authority. His political career has seen him holding numerous posts including Chair the Council’s Employment & Economic Development Committee, the Regional Assembly for Yorkshire and the Humber, LGA’s Economy and Transport Board and chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee, among numerous others.

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