Property deals needed for regeneration scheme

Property deals must be approved to ensure regeneration projects in Castleford do not stall, a council has said.

The town was awarded £24m from the government’s Town Deal programme in 2019.

Wakefield Council is required to meet the government’s deadline for completing the work by 2026.

Officers said the authority must agree on two final property purchases to enable work to progress to meet the deadline.

Negotiations with land and property owners in the Castleford have been ongoing for almost three years, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Cabinet members are recommended to agree to buy two final properties, on Sagar Street and Bridge Street, next week.

Six land and property deals have already been struck to enable the work to go ahead.

Demolition work is expected to start in autumn this year once possession has been secured.

A report to the council said the programme will have a “transformational impact” on the town.

It adds: “Approving the acquisitions allows officers to complete the final purchases required by the programme and for focus to move fully to the delivery phase within the short timescales available.”

The council has so far received £9.6m in instalments from the government.

A “significant proportion” of that sum has not yet been spent due to “challenges” faced over the acquisitions.

“If the ownership of these buildings is not secured, the Town Deal programme, and wider project delivery in Castleford, is jeopardised,” the report adds.

Regeneration plans include the Castleford Riverside Project, where the historic Queen’s Mill is being restored.

Work will also be done to create more green space close to the River Aire and to showcase the Roman bathhouse located nearby.

The Heart of Castleford scheme aims to transform the area around Henry Moore Square into a “new vibrant and active heart of the town centre.”