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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Kirklees Council stands risk of losing funding if £15m Batley regeneration plan is not delivered by 2026

Kirklees Council’s £15m regeneration plans for Batley must be delivered by 2026, or the local authority will be at risk of losing funding.

The Batley scheme is made up of four parts – an improved link between Tesco and the town, improving Commercial Street to remove clutter and make it more suitable for pedestrians, bringing a multifunctional event space to Market Place and introducing a one-way system in part and refurbishing 39 Commercial Street, the former JBM Bargains, to a marketable standard.

The vast majority of the project’s funds are coming from the £12m secured earlier this year as part of the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF). A further £1.5m has been allocated from the council’s Local Centres funding and just over £880k from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Streets for People initiative.

At present, work on Commercial Street, Market Place and the Tesco link are projected to be completed by March 2026, with the other scheme’s timeline still to be confirmed.

Meeting of the council’s Growth and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel, on 25 September, heard how the plans for Batley were moving forward and that a team was appointed to oversee the project in June. The panel was also told that costs had been reviewed and the council has sufficient funds to deliver the four stages of the project.

However, Simon Taylor, Head of Town Centre Programmes told the meeting that the March 2026 end date is “just about deliverable at this stage”. He added: “We will have big problems with our funders if we slip very much beyond that actually. There’s a little bit of flexibility. I suspect another year wouldn’t be acceptable to DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities).”

This followed a question from Chair of the Panel, Cllr Moses Crook (Labour, ) around the phasing of the project. Cllr Crook also asked whether the council could lose some funding if the time frame slipped and Mr Taylor said that this was a possibility.

Other questions were raised around the proposals for parking, with Cllr Zarina Amin (Ashbrow, Labour) expressing concern that people visiting the town may use residential streets for parking due to the proposed rationalising of parking space at Market Place.

Mr Taylor said there was a “balance to be struck” between good town centre parking and reducing the area’s problems with some said to be “abusing” the existing parking arrangements and driving unsafely.

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