Proposed Retail Support Schemes will improve look of Wakefield city centre

Members of Wakefield Council’s Cabinet are set to discuss a scheme to improve footfall and increase the attractiveness of Wakefield city centre, and the retail space on Doncaster Road and Westgate on the approach to the city centre, for businesses, visitors, and residents.

The proposals, which include a City Centre Retail Support Grant Scheme, will replicate and build on best practice gained through delivery of existing schemes targeted at other town centres across the district.

A strong, vibrant city centre is an essential part of the Wakefield district’s economy, key to its vitality and competitiveness. Providing more variety in the shopping, hospitality and leisure offer will increase visitor numbers, in turn supporting the sustainability of the city centre.

Over the last five years, Wakefield has seen the growth of an independent retail and food offer, alongside existing, established retailers. However, persistent vacancy problems continue to exist within some areas of the city centre. This has led to a deterioration of the look of these areas with an increased number of poor-quality shop facades.

Darren Byford smiling
Cllr Darren Byford

There is now an opportunity to improve the attractiveness of the city centre which will make it more appealing to new businesses and increase investment from new retail and hospitality operators.

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Growth and Property, said: “This scheme will support landlords and tenants to carry out improvements to vacant retail units, creating a positive impact on the general appearance of the city centre.

“This contributes to a number of objectives within the City Centre Masterplan, including the creation of a clean, aesthetically pleasing environment and the attraction of professional, commercial uses in the city.

“The scheme forms part of the Council’s wider strategy to regenerate and revitalise centres across the district, building on and complimenting a range of existing schemes that already support retail businesses in Wakefield.”

In addition to delivering improvements to the look of shop fronts and the quality of the retail, hospitality and leisure offer in the centre, the proposal will also support wider regeneration of the city centre, attracting businesses to office space; new residents to city centre living, and creating a hub for the growing community, which will support the local economy. This is a key theme identified within the proposed City Centre Masterplan.

Members of Wakefield’s Cabinet are meeting virtually on Tuesday 18 January at 10.30am. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website. Formal decision making will take place after the meeting.