Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Investment plans move forward for trio of town centres

The progress and next steps of major investment work to revitalise three towns in Calderdale are being presented for consideration by Calderdale Council’s Cabinet.

Investment as part of the Future High Streets Fund in Halifax and Elland and Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) funding in Sowerby Bridge represent significant opportunities to revitalise these towns and support the borough’s wider economic recovery from the pandemic.

Work is moving forward on all three schemes and at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday 8 August, Members will note the progress of each of the projects to date and consider the next steps.

In December 2020, the Council was awarded funding of £18 million from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as part of the Future High Streets Fund, to support town centre improvements in Halifax and Elland (£11.7 million and £6.3 million respectively). Significant work has been taking place since the funding announcement and these projects are now progressing through the detailed design stages.

In Halifax, the work is focused on delivering key priorities including supporting the revitalisation of key historic buildings, developing connectivity through the town, improving public spaces and increasing opportunities to live in the town centre. The funding is also directed to areas in the town centre that have seen limited funding recently.

The project scopes include major improvements to Halifax Borough Market and the Victoria Theatre, as well as investment in George Square and the historic alleyways, linking to the top of the town. These projects will encourage visitors and residents to move around the town, rather than visiting just one area.

In Elland, projects include the pedestrianisation of the Southgate area to make it feel safer, look more attractive and encourage new business and increased footfall. Funding has also been allocated to improve Market Square and following strong support as part of public consultation, refurbishment work is planned for the local community asset building, the Cartwheel Club.

The provision of seating, places to shelter and green space would increase time spent in the town, and plans are also in place to reconfigure road layouts and introduce new and widened pavements.

Funding of £1.8 million was secured from Historic England in 2020 for the Sowerby Bridge High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme. The programme has been progressing since this time and has included work on the Fire & Water complex (the former Council offices, swimming pool and fire station) and the Old Town Hall. A further scheme to improve the junction of Hollins Mill Lane and Town Hall Street is due to complete over the coming months.

Remaining elements of the HAZ programme concentrate on grant allocations to small businesses on the high street to enable improvements to shopfronts and further community engagement.

It’s recommended that Cabinet approve the work programme for each project and formally accept the associated grant funding, taking into account strict government guidelines for its spend.

Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for towns, engagement and public health, Cllr Sarah Courtney, said: “Investment in strong and resilient towns is one of the Council’s three corporate priorities which support the delivery of our Vision 2024 for Calderdale.

“As many of the projects or proposals for the FHSF and HAZ schemes reach key milestones, it’s important that we’re able to assess the progress to date and ensure that the next steps fully support our vision for the future of these key towns.

“All of the projects associated with this funding support the revitalisation of our town centres, with much of the work focused on our historic buildings and community spaces. At the Cabinet meeting, we’ll discuss the significant opportunities offered by this major investment and ensure the many benefits can be successfully realised.”

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