Workington Town Deal
Workington was invited by Government to develop proposals to support the town's economic growth prospects with a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture. Communities, businesses and local groups had the opportunity to help draw up a Town Investment Plan which was submitted to Government in October 2020.
In March 2021 as part of the Government's budget, it was announced that Workington had been successful in securing £23m from the Towns Fund.
What projects are included?
The following projects were included as part of the Town Investment Plan (TIP) and were successful in gaining funding:
To retain its role as West Cumbria’s primary retail and commercial hub, Workington needs to offer a town centre that is attractive, accessible for all and complementary to its heritage. Recognising this, the Town Deal Board have developed a series of projects focused on providing high quality public realm, urban connectivity and green infrastructure across the town centre.
Proposals are being developed in detail, but are likely to include:
- Improved pedestrian crossings on key highways such as Washington Street, better connecting heritage areas to the retail centre, and at the junction of the A597 and Station Road, directing rail users to the town centre.
- New public realm and pedestrian improvements on Murray Road and Oxford Street, helping support retail footfall.
The Workington Sports Village projects aims to build on existing and proposed sports and leisure facilities close to Workington Town Centre to create a multi-purpose sports village that will provide high quality inclusive and accessible sporting facilities for both community and professional clubs that will be sustainable in the long term.
The proposals would include:
- the redevelopment of the existing ground at Borough Park to create a new shared stadium for Workington Reds and Workington Town to provide a new modern stadium that will meet the aspirations of the clubs and provide a foundation for their future progression.
- the new stadium would sit alongside a new community facility based around an artificial grass pitch with the potential to introduce other facilities to support a range of other sports.
- the new facilities would be located closed to the Workington Leisure Centre where a new outdoors events space and outdoor gym is to be built and close to the well-established cricket and bowling club and the aim would be to provide a hub of sporting excellence.
- it is also proposed to provide investment in the improvement of existing playing pitches at Moorclose to provide a satellite facility for the Sports Village and meet to meet the wider demand for high quality playing pitches in Workington
The Workington Innovation Centre is a proposed flexible town centre office space solution for start-up and growing businesses in West Cumbria, as well as high quality co-working space for local knowledge workers.
This major investment recognises the limitations of existing office provision in Workington. Similar schemes have been successful around Cumbria and in comparable communities around the country. The project will help to ensure west Cumbria’s entrepreneurs can invest locally, as well as allowing local residents to benefit from changing employment patterns, particularly following COVID-19.
The facility will be housed in a flexible, energy efficient office building, on the Central Car Park site on Central Way in Workington. This will be part of a wider planned regeneration of this major town centre site, designed to augment and extend the existing town centre. Other uses for the site are likely to include housing, café/restaurant provision and community facilities.
The Port of Workington is a key asset for the town and has the potential for expansion and growth. The Towns Fund offers the opportunity to enhance the role that the port plays in the local economy by bringing forward new development land there, and on the Oldside site, to its north.
As key landowners Allerdale Borough Council and Cumbria County Council would work together develop serviced land around the Port and at Oldside, allowing it become a key location for the logistics and the clean energy sector within west Cumbria.
These are sectors where Workington and the wider region already excels, and this investment will support new jobs and help place the town further at the heart of the national government’s clean growth agenda.
In today’s economy digital skills are no longer optional. Employers report significant numbers of difficult to fill vacancies due to the lack of general or specific digital skills.
This project will secure the provision of high level, specific digital skills – the skills required to build a career. These are the skills that employers report a difficulty in sourcing and identify as the skills required to drive productivity growth. Crucially these are also the skills that will provide resilience in a turbulent labour market.
Workington benefits from a range of high quality institutions within the Cumbria skills system. These institutions deliver a range skills interventions to young people, adults and employers in the area building the workforce that employers need now and in the future.
This project builds on the breadth of the skills offer in the area and focuses on addressing what is widely considered one of the most significant skills challenges facing the economy – digital skills.
The Workington Digital Accelerator will be an investment in a high quality skills cluster within existing facilities to provide Workington with an axis for the delivery of high level, specific digital skills which can be summarised as follows:
- Data analysis, curation and visualisation
- Client relationship management (CRM)
- Digital Design and Marketing
- Machining and manufacturing technology
In addition, the Workington Digital Accelerator will look to promote the acquisition of baseline digital skills as a route into employment and digital skills as a driver of enterprise and entrepreneurialism.
Central Way improvements
We have started some work on improving parts of Workington already using the government's accelerated funding scheme. One project is improvements to the underpass and footway/cyclepath on Central Way near the leisure centre.
Several stages of consultation have taken place throughout the Towns Fund programme. Local residents, businesses and visitors could make initial suggestions for the scheme through the MyTowns website run by Government.
In September 2020 a larger-scale public consultation took place allowing interested parties to comment on the projects that were being suggested to be put forward for inclusion. The response to the consultation has been overwhelmingly positive. Over 500 responses were received which demonstrated a good level of support for all of the projects.
The majority of respondents (more than 50%) either agreed or strongly agreed with the each of the projects.
How is the Workington Town Deal process being run by the Council?
The Council set up a Workington Towns Deal Board to oversee the drafting of the Town Investment Plan. The Board's agendas, papers and meetings are published here, please click the box below for further information.
The Town Deal Board’s Workington Town Investment Plan outlines a vision for the town, focusing on:
- growing the Workington economy and employment through focusing on its strengths in manufacturing and clean energy, and its role as West Cumbria’s primary service centre.
- attracting new and growing businesses through offering a skilled workforce, a competitive cost base, and localised support.
- offering high-quality academic and vocational education and training opportunities to its residents and people across West Cumbria.
- bolstering its natural and built environment offer for residents and visitors.
- ensuring Workington's town centre prospers through attracting residents and public and private investment, diversifying existing uses.
- developing excellent digital and physical connectivity.
- distributing the proceeds of Workington’s growth are shared widely in the local community.
- ensuring Workington remains a safe, healthy, affordable and sustainable community.
What can the money fund?
The Towns Fund will provide the core public investment in Town Deals – additional funding may come from other sources or parts of government. The objective of the Fund is to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic and productivity growth through:
- Urban regeneration, planning and land use: ensuring towns are thriving places for people to live and work, including by: increasing density in town centres; strengthening local economic assets including local cultural assets; site acquisition, remediation, preparation, regeneration; and making full use of planning tools to bring strategic direction and change.
- Skills and enterprise infrastructure: driving private sector investment and ensuring towns have the space to support skills and small business development.
- Connectivity: developing local transport schemes that complement regional and national networks, as well as supporting the delivery of improved digital connectivity