£8m grant for troubled estates

Community groups celebrations at Top Street demolition site Hemsworth. Another street awaiting it's fate.
Community groups celebrations at Top Street demolition site Hemsworth. Another street awaiting it's fate.
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AN ESTATE once branded the worst in Britain is one of four areas set to be regenerated with £8.1m of government money.

More than 800 homes could be built on the City Estate in Fitzwilliam, Hemsworth’s West End, South Elmsall’s Westfield Lane and a site in Featherstone after Wakefield Council was awarded a Regional Growth Fund grant.

It will mean the completion of major regeneration schemes at the sites, and is expected to generate £70m of investment from private developers creating 147 construction jobs and 69 apprenticeships.

Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We are delighted that the bid has been successful and that we can now lead the completion of our regeneration aspirations for this area of the district.”

During the 1990s the West End Estate, City Estate and Westfield Lane area all fell into rapid decline, leading to abandoned houses, crime and anti-social behaviour.

The City Estate was once branded the worst estate in Britain.

Since 2005, 750 houses have been bought and demolished by the council to make way for new developments on all four sites. But the economic downturn delayed the start of these projects.

The scheme will create 818 new properties, including 227 affordable homes.

And the grant will pay for roads and an improved infrastructure

First time buyers will also be helped to get on the property ladder with a shared equity scheme.

Work will now start on appointing developers for the sites. The first phase of environmental work, which will include improvements to the main route through Fitzwilliam and Kinsley, is about to begin.

The successful bid will now have to pass a process of due diligence, to make sure the information is accurate, which could take up to three months.

Then the council will agree a detailed programme of work over the next three years before the formal funding offer will be made.

The council, which worked with the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, submitted the bid earlier this year. It was one of only a few bids in Yorkshire that was successful.

Joanne Roney, Wakefield Council’s chief executive, said: “We now have an opportunity to effect real change in the southeast. This regeneration will not only create new and affordable housing, but will increase employment opportunities and bring new private sector investment into the area.”