Kirklees Council will continue to fund blueprint projects in Dewsbury, Batley, Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike despite spending cuts
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The severity of the council’s financial predicament is becoming increasingly clear with more intensive measures agreed by cabinet this week to up the level of savings made.
Some of the measures include the freezing of all non-essential spending and a review of the council’s capital plan.
Councillor Graham Turner, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “It is vital that, even during financially difficult times, we don’t lose sight of the economic future of Kirklees.
“Not only does regeneration bring the benefits of job creation and improved public spaces, it brings significant social benefits and a sense of pride in our places.
“Our Cultural Heart in Huddersfield is one such example. The project will have vital community services that will be free to access, alongside cultural and social offerings that will attract visitors from near and far.
“Of course we have to live within our means and be prudent with our limited funding. That’s exactly why we’re phasing Our Cultural Heart project and we’ll keep reviewing all our investments to respond to the changing economic conditions.”
The Huddersfield Blueprint is the most major of the projects, forecast to cost a total of £250m. Making up the majority of this scheme is “Our Cultural Heart”, which aims to transform the centre of the town and make it a “hive of culture”.
The cultural heart will see an art gallery, museum, library, food hall, public square and urban park brought to the Piazza area.
However the scheme is being delivered using a phased approach and changes have been made due “economic constraints” with the museum and gallery, which were originally proposed to occupy the same building, to share the old library building at Princess Alexandra Walk.
Another massive regeneration project is the Dewsbury Blueprint which has multiple facets. This will see investment into the town’s market, the restoration of the historic arcade and the development of a new neighbourhood in the Daisy Hill area.
On top of this, there will be a new town park, better pedestrian and cycle routes, and a new bus station.
Smaller regeneration schemes will be taking place in Holmfirth, Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton and Batley.
Batley also benefitted from an additional £12m investment from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Cleckheaton will see improved connections with the Spen Valley Greenway, an extension to Spen Bottoms Park and its market refurbished.
Batley will see reduced car traffic and improved access for pedestrians on Commercial Street, a better link between Tesco and the town centre, and a new events space formed in front of the town hall.
The council’s aims for Heckmondwike are “to create safe, pedestrian-friendly spaces and roads in the town centre”.
In Holmfirth, a new multi-functional events space will take the place of the disused market hall, the River Holme will be opened up and made a more prominent feature and Hollowgate will be given a facelift with an improved public realm.