The plans replace earlier hopes for a shopping centre. Credit: via Royal Pilgrim

Axiom Yorkshire and Cas hopeful for green light

Approval is recommended for a 1.5m sq ft logistics development and a £14m upgrade to Castleford Tigers’ rugby league stadium at Junction 32 of the M62.

The applications will be discussed at Wakefield Council’s planning committee on 15 February.

In its £200m plans for the logistics site, Axiom Yorkshire proposes 1.5m sq ft across around 13 units of varying size. SMR Architects and planner Profectus Town Planning lead the professional team.

Around 22 acres of public open space and landscaping will be included in the project, with up to 40,000 new trees planted and 3m of new public paths and cycle routes provided, linking residential areas to the east of the site with Xscape, Junction 32 Outlet Centre and Glasshoughton railway station.

This is a hybrid application, with full consent sought for development platforms, highways and access work, and outline permission for units.

Prior to the pandemic, the Axiom site had been proposed as Yorkshire’s first purpose-built shopping destination in 20 years, plans for a “brand playground” of 570,000 sq ft and a new rugby ground being brought forward under the Lateral Property Group banner.

As planning officers outline, the retail consent has been lawfully implemented, by the digging of trenches and other preparatory works.

Regarding the new plans, officers establish the main points at issue being the obvious socio-economic benefits of a major employment site, versus the impact on the Green Belt, concluding that the benefits “clearly outweigh” the harm caused.

In a project of around £14m, which will see Wakefield Council’s Rugby League Resilience Fund contribute £2m and Axiom £12.2m, the Wheldon Road stadium will benefit from a new all-seater main stand, along with much improved ‘back of house’ sporting facilities for players and officials, a banqueting suite and corporate hospitality function rooms.

Improved accessibility and new catering and toilet facilities are also included, as are improvements to the three other stands.

Profectus is again the planner, with Sheffield-based WMA Architects the designer.

A new main stand for Castleford Tigers is the centrepiece of the stadium scheme. Credit: planning documents

Axiom Yorkshire said its scheme will provide around 1,830 permanent full-time jobs in Castleford, with a further 365 ‘spin-off’ jobs created within the Wakefield Council area and 1,500 jobs in the construction period to be generated at both Wheldon Road and the Axiom employment site.

Once fully operational, this significant job creation at the Axiom site is expected to generate around £142m of local economic activity per year and bring in £3.2m in business rates per year.

Axiom will also deliver £15m of highways improvements to the Junction 32 roundabout.

Mark Grattan, Castleford Tigers RLFC managing director said: “Everyone knows how important the club is to the town and we take seriously our responsibility to maintain professional rugby in Castleford. However, it is no secret that the available money within the sport is diminishing.

“Without significant external funding, like that offered by the Axiom proposals, there is no realistic prospect of us raising the money required to pay for the major improvements to our stadium which are necessary over the long term.”

A spokesperson for Axiom Yorkshire, owner of the Junction 32 site said: “The cumulative beneficial impact of this level of job creation, combined with the social-economic benefits to the area and the circa £142 million boost to the Wakefield economy, will deliver significant and lasting benefits for Castleford. It is now for planning committee members to make their decision on both applications.”

The applications can be viewed on Wakefield Council’s planning portal with the references 22/02474/FUL (rugby) and 22/02485/HYB (logistics).

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