Wakefield Council and Spawforths: infrastructure to facilitate development and attract investment

The Wakefield Eastern Relief Road (WERR) scheme is an important illustration of how the public sector, working closely with the private sector can bring all the components together to deliver significant key infrastructure, in a short timescale, to facilitate future development and encourage inward investment.

The scheme also addresses issues of congestion and poor air quality, along with a whole host of other direct and indirect benefits. This will go on to achieve large scale regeneration and housing delivery in an urban context through true collaborative and partnership working. At the heart of the scheme is sustainable development and long term regeneration. This is underpinned by the accelerated delivery of key infrastructure which in turn, accelerates the ability to meet much needed long term housing and employment needs across the district, coupled with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest and regenerate the most deprived areas of the city.

The relief road is a 5.5km road that provides an alternative route around Wakefield’s city centre. The road runs through the wider, 107 hectare, City Fields strategic urban extension, linking the south of the city of Wakefield to the north. Spawforths’ concept of the Wakefield East (now known as City Fields) strategic urban extension evolved from a holistic approach to a number of interlinked sites on which Spawforths were acting on behalf of a number of landowners.

The relief road is a key component of the City Fields site, acting as both a relief road for central Wakefield and a site access road for City Fields. It had been a long held aspiration for Wakefield Council, but with no means of delivery. Spawforths conceived and promoted City Fields through the council’s local development framework, securing its release from the Green Belt to enable its confirmation as a strategic allocation in the Wakefield Local Plan.

We are really pleased to be leading the delivery of this new sustainable urban extension to Wakefield and accelerating the delivery of 2,500 homes. It is also one of very few schemes where through collaborative working between the public and private sectors, the main strategic infrastructure is in place and open before the first house has been occupied.

David Rolinson, Chairman, Spawforths

Since the relief road was strategic in nature and provided more than site-only development benefits, Wakefield Council took the lead in its delivery utilising the West Yorkshire ’Plus’ Transport Fund and developer funding. This also enabled the relief road to be delivered in its entirety and in a far shorter timescale than if it had come forward on a phase-by-phase basis as the City Fields site allocation was developed.

The road is the first scheme to be delivered as part of the West Yorkshire ‘Plus’ Transport Fund. This Transport Fund is intended to underpin growth by improving the Leeds City Region’s roads and railways, connecting people to jobs, and goods to the market. The Transport Fund project aims to reduce journey times, alleviate congestion and improve air quality, as well as provide better access to jobs.

Spawforths were instructed by Wakefield Council to take forward the relief road planning application to meet the tight delivery programme. In doing this Spawforths led a multidisciplinary consultant team to submit a planning application with environmental statement, for the relief road proposal, demonstrating the continued commitment and benefits to partnership working which has been at the core of the process since its initial inception.

This has all enabled road construction and the relief road’s opening, within programme, in April 2017.

The Wakefield Eastern Relief Road is a game changer for the district. It show the willingness and ability of the council to secure funding and construct major infrastructure to support the delivery of our growth plans. It not only opens up our largest development site but it also brings major benefits to Wakefield town centre through relief of congestion and improvement of air quality.

Neil Rodgers, Head of Planning, Transportation and Highways, Wakefield Council