Ministers asked to back £109m plan to boost growth in region

Flooding in Brighouse, December 2015. Picture by Steven Lord
Flooding in Brighouse, December 2015. Picture by Steven Lord

Schemes to increase flood resilience and build new homes are among a £109m package the Government is being asked to support to help grow the West Yorkshire and York economy.

If ministers back the proposals it is estimated they could help create almost 10,000 new jobs and add £1bn to the area’s economy.

In the aftermath of the winter floods which devastated large areas, improving the area’s ability to cope with extreme weather is one of the central aims of the package put forward by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).

Around £20m would be spent in some of the areas worst hit by the Boxing Day floods including Leeds’s Kirkstall Road, Canal Road in Bradford and Clifton, Mytholmroyd and Brighouse in Calderdale.

This spending would be in

addition to the promises the Government has already made to fund improved flood defences.

In its bid document submitted to Ministers, WYCA warns businesses have already reported £150m in losses connected to the floods and “the next 12 months will bring the greatest challenges as they try to deliver orders which have been delayed, as well as balance the effects of delaying in getting new equipment and possible site relocation”.

WYCA is seeking a further £25m to spend on making the area’s enterprise zones ready for development as homes for new businesses by clearing land and upgrading road and broadband connections.

Money will also go into preparing sites that could be used for housing schemes worth £25m including Hunslet Mills

in Leeds, Halifax town centre and the British Sugar site in York.

The bid includes a request for £24m to help businesses seeking grants and loans so they can expand.

Ministers are also being asked to give the area £30m to help build and refurbish college campuses in West Yorkshire to help improve skill levels.

Projects that could be in line for support include the Leeds City College Quarry Hill Campus and developments at Kirklees and Calderdale colleges.

If agreed by the Government, a further £10m would be spent on “low carbon innovation”.

The money would be used to help companies to trial new technology in the region.

WYCA has submitted its bid as part of the Government’s latest offer of “growth deals” to support local economies.

The Government has made £1.8bn available in the latest round of growth deals.

WYCA has already secured more than £600m in the first two rounds of growth deals which it says will help create 36,000 jobs and add £3.7bn a year to the economy.

Alongside the growth deal bid, the combined authority is asking the Government for £1m to help develop plans for the proposed North Kirklees Orbital Road.

The road would connect junction 25 of the M62 to junction 40 of the M1.

It is expected the full cost of the road would be around £150m and a separate bid would have to be submitted if the project progresses that far.

The Government is expected to announce how much areas will receive in the latest round of growth deals later in the year.