Plans for a new £18 million Huddersfield Market have been thrown into doubt after the Government rejected a bid for Levelling Up funds.
Kirklees Council had submitted four bids to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund but all three Huddersfield schemes – including the new market in Northumberland Street – were knocked back.
Kirklees was successful in securing £12 million for the pedestrianisation of Batley town centre but the £18 million scheme to restore the existing grade II* listed Huddersfield open market turning it into a food hall seating 300 people, and creating a new 60-stall open market on the nearby Tesco car park was rejected.
The council was also unsuccessful with a £48 million bid for re-opening the Penistone Line linking Huddersfield, Barnsley and Sheffield and a £5.6 million investment in the private sector regeneration of Marsden Mills in Marsden, turning it into a retail, offices and apartments complex.
The council was relying entirely on the Levelling Up cash for the market project and must now look for alternative sources of funding – or come up with something completely new.
On Wednesday night the Government confirmed spending of £2.1 billion on more than 100 projects but Kirklees only secured £12 million from its four bids worth a combined £83 million.
The council’s Cabinet member for regeneration, Clr Graham Turner, welcomed the money for Batley but was still left disappointed.
“One out of four in the second round of funding is disappointing and we also missed out on the first round,” he said.
“It doesn’t feel like levelling up to me and it feels we’re a bit of a poor relation. There was a real opportunity with the Penistone Line in particular which would help drive the economy.
“Linking Huddersfield to Sheffield, the biggest city in South Yorkshire, would have connected to Leeds and also connected Huddersfield into the West Coast line.
“The route is already twin-tracked and while the sum of money wasn’t insignificant it would have provided a good return.
“Many rail projects – not least the £1 billion TransPennine Route Upgrade – are expensive but we felt this was value for money, would provide economic benefits and was deliverable quicker.”
Clr Turner said he was hoping for some formal feedback from the Government but didn’t know whether there would be a third round of funding or if the same schemes could be submitted again.
He added: “While I’m grateful we’ve secured funding for the Batley scheme I do feel we have been neglected in Kirklees.
“But if the Government doesn’t want to help us we are still ambitious in Kirklees and we will do it in spite of the them, not because of them.”
Clr Turner said it was too early to say what would happen to the Huddersfield market scheme.
The various schemes were supported by the local MPs – Batley (Batley & Spen Labour MP Kim Leadbeater); Huddersfield market (Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman); Penistone Line (Dewsbury Tory MP Mark Eastwood); and Marsden (Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney).
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove visited Batley in December and Ms Leadbeater said she was “over the moon” to secure the funding.
“I brought Michael Gove to Batley before Christmas and I’m delighted he was won over by the plans he saw,” she added.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority was also successful in securing £41 million for bus service improvements across West Yorkshire. That includes making bus stops and bus stations more accessible and improving roads to speed up bus journey times.
Mayor of West Yorkshire and former Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin said: “The injection of cash announced for Batley will mean so much for local people.
“Regenerating our town centres and high streets is a priority for us in West Yorkshire, and it’s great that Government have backed the community’s ambitions.
“I’m pleased that we’ve received £41m to continue improving West Yorkshire’s bus network but it’s incredibly disappointing that no other local community was successful in their bid, despite investing huge amounts of hope, time and energy.
“Forcing local areas to compete against each other for funds in this way cannot be the way we level up.
“In West Yorkshire, our ambition is our strength – it shouldn’t be another area’s weakness. And until we ditch piecemeal beauty contests and agree a large-scale, region-wide settlement with the Treasury, we’ll not be able to take control of our destiny.”
On the West Yorkshire bus investment, Clr Turner said: “We will have to wait and see what that means for Kirklees.”