Millions of pounds are on the way for the regeneration of Batley after Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, was won over during his visit.
Kirklees Council has secured £12m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) after making a bid in August last year. This will be used to finance the vast majority of the Batley Blueprint project.
On 15 December, MP Kim Leadbeater showed senior Cabinet Minister Michael Gove around Batley town centre to argue for government investment in the town following Kirklees Council’s £12m bid to the government’s LUF in August 2022.
After a period of uncertainty, with the government delaying the announcement of successful applicants, it has now been revealed that Batley has secured funding.
The cash will be used for a number of projects, including the second phase of the regeneration of Commercial Street which will reduce the level of car traffic and improve access for pedestrians.
Two and a half million pounds of funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Kirklees Council was already in place for phase one of the Commercial Street plans which will see improvements to the western end between Branch Road and Wards Hill.
Other improvements include those to Market Place, which is currently ‘failing to maximise its potential.’ This will see Market Place and Cambridge Street become one-way to reduce negative impacts from traffic, a new events space in front of the town hall and the addition of a water feature, art and greenery.
There will also be an improved link between Tesco and the town centre with a new accessible ramp and staircase, and the refurbishment of a disused building on Commercial Street that once housed JBM Bargains to bring the space back into use.
The council hopes that the transformation will bring up to £60m of economic investment into the town over the next few years.
Reacting to the announcement that the Levelling Up bid for over £12m to regenerate Batley Town Centre has been successful, Kim Leadbeater MP said: “I am over the moon to hear that the bid I supported for investment in the regeneration of Batley town centre has been successful. It has been a lot of hard work, but when I was elected I promised to fight for funding for our local area and that is what I have done.
“I brought the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, to Batley before Christmas and I’m delighted he was won over by the plans he saw.
“This project, involving a major redesign and part-pedestrianisation of Commercial Street and the area around Market Place, will bring real benefits to local businesses, shoppers and residents.
“Batley, like other towns and villages across the constituency, has been starved of investment for many years so I’m delighted that the case we made has been accepted.
“I’ve never been happy that we had to compete against other areas of genuine need to secure so-called levelling-up funding, and I’m bitterly disappointed that colleagues who worked equally hard for their areas have not been successful. But this is very good news for Batley and I‘d like to thank everybody who has done so much hard work in designing the bid and all those who contributed their thoughts during the consultation process.
“Combined with funds already committed by Kirklees Council, this will mean the town centre will be more attractive and welcoming, as well as safer for everybody who comes into the town. Local organisations will have a better location for community events, and I hope shoppers will be encouraged to stay longer, visit a wider range of shops and businesses, and enjoy something to eat or drink.
“I took the opportunity of the Secretary of State’s visit to make the case for other towns and villages including Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton and Birstall and I will continue to press for the funds we need to breathe new life into all our high streets, town centres and villages across Batley and Spen.”
Leader of Kirklees Council, Cllr Shabir Pandor, said: “This is great news for Batley. The successful bid will kick start our plans to transform the town centre and bring opportunities for the whole community.
“The bidding process has shown the very best of Batley. Our bid has been a true team effort between the council, our MP Kim Leadbeater, Batley councillors, the Fire Service and Police alongside local residents and businesses. Their hard work has paid off and I can’t wait to start delivering the project.
“We’ll continue to work with local businesses and residents as we deliver these major improvements.
“We submitted four Kirklees bids during this round of bids for Levelling Up funds. I want to thank all the MPs, businesses and local people who supported us to put some brilliant plans together. We will keep working to bring investment to all parts of Kirklees and we have a great selection of ambitious plans that will help us deliver the economic growth we all need.”