Kirklees Council’s regeneration leader, Clr Graham Turner, enthusiastically declared a triumphant day for Huddersfield as the Government unleashed a series of transformative announcements on Monday 20th November, marking a significant economic upswing for the town.
In an unprecedented move, not just one but three substantial developments were revealed, signalling a massive economic injection. The council’s duo of Levelling Up Fund proposals, totalling an impressive £65 million, garnered approval. Additionally, the unveiling of the West Yorkshire Investment Zone, centred around Huddersfield’s Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor, was announced.
Clr Turner expressed his elation, stating, “It’s an exceptional day for Huddersfield and a testament to our unwavering dedication. This step will pave the way for a contemporary town for generations to come.”
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove directed a substantial investment toward the Penistone Line, a vital link connecting Huddersfield with Barnsley and Sheffield. The £48 million initiative, deemed pivotal for economic revitalisation, aims to expedite connections to South Yorkshire. Moreover, it promises enhanced access to the West Coast Main Line and the South West. Notably, the project entails bolstering train services along the Penistone Line and refurbishing its smaller stations.
Another successful bid in the Levelling Up scheme secured £17 million for the Huddersfield Open Market project. This initiative will transform the existing open market building into a bustling food hall, while a sprawling 60-stall market will be established on the nearby Tesco car park.
The Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor, strategically anchored by the University of Huddersfield’s National Health Innovation Campus, represents a pinnacle among Yorkshire’s economic prospects. With its inclusion in the West Yorkshire Investment Zone, lucrative financial incentives are poised to beckon high-tech and digital enterprises, promising a surge in skilled, well-paid job opportunities for Kirklees.
While previous attempts to secure funding for the market scheme and the Penistone Line had faltered, Clr Turner remained quietly optimistic about a favourable outcome. “A considerable amount of effort was invested by the council, and the Government recognised the readiness of our projects,” he affirmed.
Speaking on the long-standing advocacy for the Penistone Line investment, Clr Turner emphasised its economic rationale, citing the potential to link Sheffield, Huddersfield and Leeds, and connect to major lines like the West Coast Main Line, potentially reaching cities such as Bristol. He highlighted the extensive support garnered from various political figures, stressing the collaborative effort that facilitated this achievement.
Regarding the Huddersfield Open Market endeavour, Clr Turner emphasised the preparedness of the project’s design team to swiftly resume work pending planning permission next year, with construction potentially commencing the following year.
Recent political tensions surfaced when Dewsbury Tory MP Mark Eastwood questioned the fiscal competence of the Labour-run council, citing the need for substantial budget cuts to avert bankruptcy. However, Clr Turner juxtaposed these criticisms with the government’s subsequent substantial investments in Kirklees, suggesting a disconnect between perspectives.
“Despite certain criticisms, we have a track record of competence and delivery,” Clr Turner affirmed. “Our foresight is paying dividends, positioning us to capitalise on the eventual economic resurgence. Huddersfield is primed for success, and we are resolute in our mission to elevate it into a thriving town.”
The approval of all four Levelling Up Fund bids by the Government marks a significant milestone for Kirklees Council, including allocations for the regeneration of New Mills in Marsden (£5.6 million) and £12 million for Batley town centre.