Huddersfield Open Market is in line for an overhaul. Credit: via Counter Context

Kirklees at the double among LUF third round winners

The largest single award, at £47.9m, in the Levelling Up Fund allocations went to the Penistone Line rail upgrade, with Huddersfield market also among the Yorkshire schemes backed.

The Huddersfield-Sheffield rail link improvement scheme also comes under the Network North banner.

The bid was led by Kirklees, supported by Barnsley Council and both South and West Yorkshire mayoral combined authorities and will see investment in infrastructure to add frequency and speed to services.

In all, Yorkshire & Humber projects received £169m in backing.

Promoted originally as a flagship Boris Johnson policy, the Levelling Up Fund is available to all local authorities through an application process, with the first two rounds having already awarded £3.8bn on a competitive basis to projects with one of the following themes: regeneration and town centres; local transport; and cultural and heritage assets.

The government said that it has moved away from this model for the third round, instead looking to recognise “high quality” bids that were submitted in round two: in total, 55 bids are to receive a combined £1.1bn.

“Priority places” were identified based on “levelling up need” metrics covering pay, skills, productivity and health.

Local authorities making winning bids were:

Bradford: Keighley projects, £19.8m

The flagship development of the Keighley proposal is an advanced robotics and engineering institute, with support also asked for the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and the development of brownfield sites.

To be built over two floors, the institute could accommodate up to 250 full time undergraduates and 40 postgraduate students in the study of robotics, advanced engineering, automation, artificial intelligence and computer science.

The institute will benefit students at all levels of technical education, from secondary school-age to PhD, by offering clear progression pathways in a familiar, state-of-the-art centre of excellence. The railway funding ask includes upgraded signalling to enable more services, and the overhaul of the fleet’s diesel units.

Bradford Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchliffe said: “This is excellent news for Keighley and the wider district in so many ways. The town has a proud engineering and manufacturing tradition.”

Doncaster: Doncaster North, £17.9m

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said that while she was glad to see funding committed to regeneration of Mexborough (where a masterplan is in the works) and Moorends, she was disappointed that Edlington had been overlooked.

Jones said: “Levelling Up Funding should be targeted at areas that need it most and have a strong case for regeneration. I believe that both of our bids evidenced this clearly and demonstrated positive change for local communities. We will of course ask questions as to why our other bid was not given the thumbs up.”

Kirklees: Huddersfield Open Market regeneration £16.6m, Penistone line rail upgrade £47.9m

Along with the rail investment described above, Kirklees’s largest town will receive a funding boost to support the £18m redevelopment of Huddersfield’s open market hall on Northumberland Street

The project, a key part of the Huddersfield Blueprint, involves restoring the grade two*-listed structure and improving the surroundings. The new market’s offer will include a street food element, strengthening the evening economy and providing a new focal point for the north of the town centre.

The plan for the new outdoor market is to locate it next to Tesco with approximately 54 stalls and accompanying storage units.

Kirklees has now ben successful with all four of its LUF bids.

Leeds: Heart of Holbeck, £15.9m

A key strand of the £15.9m investment is support to local charity Holbeck Together through improvements to St Matthew’s Community Centre where it currently delivers services, and an expansion into the adjoining Old Box Office in partnership with current owner, Leeds Building Society. The regeneration of both sites will enable a wide range of new services including a gym, cafe, social supermarket, and space for local microbusinesses.

There will also be investment into public spaces, with safety and accessibility at the forefront. This includes significant investment into local retail centre, cycle and pedestrian infrastructure and renewal of the main community park, Holbeck Moor.

The investment will also help improve housing conditions for around 200 back-to-back homes.

North Lincolnshire: Scunthorpe town centre vibrancy, £15.9m

Job creation and town centre homes are the focus, said North Lincs.

Cllr Rob Waltham, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “Levelling-Up is alive and well in Scunthorpe – the cash will make a huge difference to Scunthorpe and residents in communities who visit the town centre.

“The plans we have are ambitious and the Government has backed them. We know there are challenges for high streets up and down the country and with this cash we can start to move these plans forward by creating new jobs and building new homes.

“We are determined to improve Scunthorpe and we will back businesses to invest so we can create a new future together.”

Sheffield: Parkwood Springs, £19.4m

Part of the park formerly housed a dry ski slope. Credit: SCC

The investment will fuel the council’s plans for under-utilised Parkwood Springs to become a full country park, both a regional leisure destination and a valued amenity for local residents.

The cash will cover improved access to  the park, with a focus on active travel and public transport; site clearance, clean up and enabling work on the former dry ski slope attraction; and investment in walking and bike trails along with improved wayfinding

A new visitor centre and bike hub along with information boards, event space and improved boundaries will allow Parkwood Springs to strengthen the appeal as a destination in its own right.

Cllr Ben Miskell, chair of SCC’s transport, regeneration and climate committee, said: “We recognised that Parkwood Springs needed a new lease of life and have continued to push for the funding to support our ambition and to deliver for the city.”

Wakefield: repurposing the Ridings shopping centre, £15.3m

Recent years have seen Wakefield consider, like other councils, taking full control of the destiny of its main shopping centre by acquiring it, a move it eventually decided to not pursue. The buyer, Zahid Iqbal, announced an investment programme this summer.

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