Cabinet to receive update on Towns Fund programmes

Wakefield Council’s Cabinet will be given an update on the £48.8m Towns Fund programmes for Wakefield and Castleford – which will drive forward major regeneration – during their meeting next week.

In the March 2021 Budget speech, the Chancellor announced that both bids for Wakefield and Castleford had been approved in principle, with an allocation of £24.9m for Wakefield and £23.9m for Castleford (£48.8m in total), as part of significant funding to support the regeneration of towns across the UK as a part of the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda. Before the funding can be drawn down, the Council has up to March 2022 to submit business case summaries for the agreed projects to government, for their final approval.

This will enable the transformation of Wakefield city and Castleford town centres through the delivery of projects that will stimulate the local economy and drive footfall that will help to support existing and new business development. It is also expected to attract further investment as businesses are drawn to these improved centres. The funding will support high quality town centre living and clean growth.

A fundamental repurposing of both town centres is required to breathe new life into them, creating service and experience driven centres, which can support thriving office, residential and visitor offers alongside reduced retail provision. The programmes and investment proposed will support this process of reinvention, acting as a catalyst for longer-term improvements in Castleford and Wakefield.

Darren Byford smiling
Cllr Darren Byford

The vision for Wakefield city centre is to improve both city centre living conditions and create new working locations, whilst also improving amenity space in the surrounding areas, while Castleford’s vision is for it to become recognised as a ‘distinctive riverside market town’.

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Growth and Property, said: “We were absolutely delighted to be allocated this significant funding from Government back in March. It will help to deliver major investment and transformational change to both urban centres, which will act as a catalyst for further investment and improvements as businesses grow in confidence and the perception of both centres are enhanced.

“Given the recent Covid pandemic and the significant impact this has had on our district, investment on this scale will not only assist the recovery, but it will help to re-shape and re-define the purposes of these centres, making them more resilient to future challenges.

“For local residents this investment, alongside that of the wider Town Centre Regeneration Fund will increase pride in their local area. It will encourage footfall into urban centres from across all age groups as centres become destinations. It will also continue to place the Wakefield district on the map as a great place to live, visit, work and invest and complement wider regeneration activities across the rest of the district.”

This is part of a wider strategy of investment across the Wakefield district, which includes the previously approved £10m Town Centre Regeneration Fund, which will see investment across places including Ossett and Horbury, Featherstone and Normanton, with a pilot presently underway in the South East.

Members of Wakefield’s Cabinet are meeting virtually on Tuesday 20 July at 10.30am to discuss the plans. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website.