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Workington Town Deal business cases agreed

Andrew Gilbert

Andrew Gilbert

Posted on 03 March 2022

Workington could soon start to benefit from £23.1m in investment. 

On 1 March 2022 Allerdale Borough Council’s Executive committee agreed the business cases for five key projects in the town using funding from the government’s Town Deal pot. This is the first stage in the development of the projects.  

Now that they have been given green light by Executive members, the next stage is for them to be considered by the government. After that the projects would then move into the more detailed design phase before building work starts.  

The projects have been put together by the Town Deal Board which has representatives from local government and the Workington business and third sector communities.  

The projects include an improved community sports and leisure facility in the lower Derwent Park Valley which would include new facilities for Workington Reds football club and the town’s rugby league club, Workington Town.   

At the meeting the Executive acknowledged that further work is required on a number of items in relation to this project, including the business plan and governance arrangements for the delivery and ongoing operation of the sports village.   

The business case makes clear how this project would take place over a number of phases.  

The initial phase would see around £5m from the Town Deal, and a further £1m from Allerdale Borough Council, provide a completely new grandstand and accompanying facilities and an all-weather pitch on the footprint of Borough Park. Subsequent phases would see the construction of further covered terracing.  

Alongside the stadium project are plans to provide a 3G community pitch on Lonsdale Park adjacent to the new stadium facilities. Discussions are underway for further funding for these facilities.  

Without this initial investment from the Town Deal and the council it is unlikely that further funding and investment streams could be unlocked. The project team is already in constructive talks with potential funders for this second phase. The plans also include the possibility of improving pitch facilities at Moorclose too.  

The clubs would benefit from new and attractive, accessible sporting facilities which has the potential for further development phases as both the facilities and clubs grow. The sports village would also meet the council’s commitment to support the clubs, as well as help improve the health and well-being of the wider community.  

The two clubs are due to hold consultation events with their supporters in the coming weeks to give them an opportunity to discuss the plans.   

Another project that was agreed was for a Digital Accelerator scheme. This would provide advanced digital and IT training to local people to meet the demands of specialist local nuclear, defence maritime and advanced engineering sectors for highly skilled workers. The proposal is to base the accelerator at Lakes College.  

A related scheme is to create an Innovation Centre in the town. The plans would see attractive, high quality, flexible workshop and office space, with conference facilities built on what is now the town’s Central Car Park. There is a shortage of good office space in the centre of Workington, and the Innovation Centre will accommodate innovative start-ups from the local area, workers from the knowledge economy, as well as a small number of anchor tenants who are likely to be associated with the nuclear supply chain.    

Workington could also soon see improvements to the streets in the town centre. Plans include revamped connections from the train station to the centre of town, as well as improvements to key locations such as Murray Road and Central Way. Better seating, lighting and safer pedestrian and cycle routes are also all part of the plans.   

The Port of Workington is a key transport hub with good road and rail links. However, historical land contamination issues, has hampered the port’s ability to grow and develop. Therefore, plans also include a scheme to remediate more than eight hectares of land within, and next to, the port. This would allow these areas to be ready for future development with the potential to support the clean energy and logistics sector.  

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Mike Johnson, Council Leader, said: “I’m delighted to present this report to the Executive. It’s the culmination of work by numerous people and I’d like to thank each and every person who has been involved to date.   

My thanks especially go to the Town Deal Board. With representatives from local government, councillors and politicians, businesses and the third sector the board has worked hard to realise our collective ambition for Workington.  

The funding from government through the Town Deal is an opportunity to make a huge difference to this town for local residents and local businesses. 

This investment meets our commitment in our Council Strategy to invest in our communities and have thriving towns and villages. I’m also keen to make the most of the government’s Levelling Up plans which promise to pump even more investment into communities such as Workington.  

I’m confident, when these plans go to government, that they will like what they see, and we will get the green light from them to progress further with the projects.   

It’s at this point that we will start to realise the significant and lasting changes to Workington that this investment promises.”  

Full details on the business case and the meeting agenda can be found on the council’s website.  

More details on the Town Deal projects can be found on the Council's website .

(Image is an artist's impression of the Innovation Centre)