A £1.4bn programme of transport improvements for West Yorkshire and York has been agreed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Road improvements, a new junction on the M62, rail line upgrades and increased opportunities for park and ride at more accessible stations are among schemes to be undertaken under the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund. Over 30 projects are scheduled for completion by 2021 with a further six, including a second NGT Line to the Aire Valley between Leeds and Wakefield, are scheduled for delivery by 2025.
All of the schemes in the programme have been devised and assessed for impact on unlocking economic benefits in terms of creating GVA created, employment and housing growth across West Yorkshire and York. These objectives are in line with the Strategic Economic Plan drawn up by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and adopted by the Combined Authority.
As part of the Growth Deal settlement announced in July 2014, West Yorkshire and York secured a unique 20-year settlement of £30m per year to support the West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund. This will deliver a further £420m in government funding from 2021-22 to 2034-35.
The programme approved today has been drawn up to deliver the Fund’s benefits equitably across the six Combined Authority districts. This includes a better-than-average improvement in employment accessibility for people living in the most deprived 25% of West Yorkshire communities and although they have been designed to provide better transport links, the schemes will not increase overall carbon emissions.
A number of West Yorkshire plus Transport Fund projects are already progressing through the Gateway system established by the combined Authority to ensure projects deliver value for money. These include Harrogate Road New Line in Bradford, Wakefield Eastern Relief Road and York Outer Ring Road, Pontefract Northern Link Road (on-site).
Combined Authority Chair Cllr Peter Box said, “This vital programme of transport development focuses on delivering benefits which transcend district boundaries. They will improve businesses to business and employees to businesses links, unlock areas for potential commercial and housing development and give companies and individuals better access to the strategic national transport network.
“Establishing the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has made it possible for us to develop initiatives like this through which we can overcome the previous competitive environment forced on us by Whitehall where we have had to compete for developments rather than being able to take this wider inclusive approach designed to achieve the wider benefit.
Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Chair Roger Marsh said, “Developing a connected City Region with the 21st Century infrastructure to support, is a core part of our Strategic Economic Plan to grow the economy. This investment is vital if we are to achieve our goal of becoming a net contributor to the public purse, as it enables businesses and residents to connect to people, places and markets more efficiently and has the potential to create an extra 20,000 jobs in the City Region.
“This investment supports the LEP ambition of transformational growth for the City Region and will ensure we are ready to maximise the benefits of HS2 and HS3. I look forward to continuing the partnership working with the Combined Authority to ensure that the benefit of this investment is felt across the entire Leeds City Region.”
Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair Cllr James Lewis said, “This is an ambitious programme designed to meet the objectives we set out when we established the Combined Authority and we are committed to ensuring it is delivered.
“When we signed the City Deal the Transport funding was conditional on our raising finance locally through the levy. This won’t be easy to find given the substantial cuts facing us locally. However, if we want to meet the ambitious objectives we set out when we established the Combined Authority, we also need to be prepared to take the difficult decision required to achieve them.”
Bradford Council Leader David Green said, “This fund will deliver economic benefits for Bradford and the whole region."
“An efficient regional transport system is the key to increasing economic prosperity and sustainability over the next decade, especially for people living in more deprived areas.
“Better transport will increase employment options, as well as providing faster journeys, decongestion and improved air quality.”
Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Stephen Baines said, “This is great news for the region, providing the essential investment in our infrastructure which is needed to fuel economic growth, create new jobs and stimulate business productivity. For Calderdale it will bring improvements to the A629 Halifax to Huddersfield corridor, to Halifax town centre and much needed enhancements to the Calder Valley rail line.”
Commenting on the proposal for a new Junction24a on the M62 near Brighouse, Kirklees Council Cabinet Member for Place Cllr Peter McBride, said, “This scheme will unlock the economic potential of the whole area, is much needed and has been a priority for us for some time. Our priority now is to work with partners to ensure that it is delivered in a way which focuses on improving access to business, access to employment opportunities, and making the most of the employment land we have. Today’s announcement is another step on the way to achieving that goal.”
He added that the scheme is a huge plus for Huddersfield and Kirklees as a whole, importantly improving connectivity between Huddersfield Brighouse and Bradford, linking all together and more quickly to the M62.
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said, “The approval of this package represents a further major step in the progression of the largest investment in the city’s transport network since the 1970s. The programme offers a wide range of benefits with the prospect of major improvements to our roads and public transport system. We are committed to moving these schemes forward as quickly as possible to provide the significant benefits they offer for our residents and the economy.”
Cllr Denise Jeffrey, Deputy Leader of Wakefield Council with responsibility for economic growth, said, “This is excellent news for Wakefield and a massive boost for economic growth and investment.
“New roads mean new jobs and we are delighted to see the West Yorkshire Transport Fund being used to benefit the district. The Wakefield Eastern Relief Road, which is awaiting planning permission next week, is a key scheme for the district and we look forward to rapid progress now the funding has been agreed.”
Cllr Dafydd Williams, leader of City of York Council, said, “This decision represents a significant move forward in the economic ambition for this city. It’s the next key step in securing and progressing funds to upgrade York’s Outer Ring Road. We’ve been working cross party with political colleagues in the region and nationally, and this demonstrates a clear benefit of being in the combined authority and the benefits of working together across council borders to progress schemes.
“As part of the WYCA we aim to invest in and address long overdue transport needs, including better bus interchange at the Railway Station and the provision of access to the York Central development site. This is crucial to the city’s sustained growth and economic prosperity and allows us to strengthen the links between our key supply chains and shared markets, and enable vital improvements in the city’s transport and economic infrastructure.”
The West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund Report is Item 8 on the Combined Authority Agenda (opens in new window).