£25m for Doncaster town centre is a 'hopeful moment' says senior government minister but no word on Stainforth scheme
A senior government minister has said £25 million for projects in Doncaster town centre is a ‘hopeful moment’ for the town but no decision had been made for a separate scheme in Stainforth.
Speaking outside Danum Library and Museum on a recent visit, Robert Jenrick Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the fund would go some way in making Doncaster town centre a more attractive place.
But there’s been no news on a similar pot of money for Stainforth and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said he was ‘pushing the department’ for a decision.
Mr Jenrick, when asked about the Stainforth bid, said the bid was submitted later than the one in Doncaster and no decision had yet been made.
The money for Doncaster includes:
Railway forecourt extension
This scheme will extend the new square outside Doncaster railway station by creating additional public space to ‘further enhance’ the route into the town centre while ‘providing visitors with an even better first impression of Doncaster’.
Multi-use building and public area
This project aims to create new office space close to Doncaster railway station. A four or five storey building aims to help create new jobs, enterprise and try to encourage further investment for the town centre.
This proposal will commission feasibility studies of identified heritage sites to define a new future for these sites. Working with partners the studies will identify how these sites can be brought back to life.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Jenrick said: ““These are going to support projects that will be locally led and at the heart of them, it’s about making the town centre as attractive as possible for people to come, to shop for leisure, culture and to attract new, quality businesses.
“It’s a very encouraging and hopeful moment for Doncaster. We’re very committed to Doncaster, it’s very well connected and it’s got a bright future and we want to make sure it gets the investment it hasn’t had from successive governments so it can now regenerate the town centre and invest in skills.
“At the heart of our wider mission is to level up all parts of the country and in Doncaster we want to make sure it has the transformative investment and the support it needs to have a proper plan for the town.”
The Stronger Towns Fund has drawn criticism from commentators that the money was given primarily to areas with a Conservative MP. Don Valley elected Tory Nick Fletcher back in 2019 - the first since the 1960s.
But Mr Jenrick said: “We created this scheme long before the general election in 2019 and Doncaster was represented by three Labour MPs and I’m here today with two of them who I have worked closely with.
“It’s a result of this Conservative government that we are investing money where they haven’t had that investment and have been undervalued for too long.”
In the Stainforth bid, where a decision has not yet been made, a number of projects include:
This proposal will aim to transform the gateway between the station and the town by creating a better ‘arrival experience’. A bespoke replacement overbridge of ‘architectural significance’ is planned.
Town centre hub
This scheme will focus on improving the ‘sense of place and support business growth’ in the town centre. It includes a raft of initiatives including streetscape and shop front improvements, a new civic space and a new community hub to ‘drive footfall to the town and support the regeneration of Stainforth’.
Council bosses are also planning an enhanced street network in Stainforth which aims to create a ‘safer and more attractive place helping to support regeneration and growth’.
The new CCTV network is also hoped to deter crime and anti-social behaviour along the new link connecting East Lane with the Unity Way roundabout.
This project will result in the former colliery headstocks restored to become a site and visitor centre. New infrastructure will aim to unlock employment land and a new country park will provide new green space for outdoor events and activities.
Asked why no decision had been made on the Stainforth bid, Mr Jenrick added: “Some bids were submitted later than others and we’ve been working through them in tranches and we will be reviewing the bid put forward by Stainforth and we will make an announcement shortly.”
Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central said: “I was very pleased we’ve got the Towns Fund. I’ve been part of the board here in Doncaster and I’ve lobbied ministers about this.
“I have raised my opinions on the fact we didn’t win another pot of money for the High Streets Fund but it was really important that we got this.
“What we’ve been discussing today with the minister is how we need more funding in order to complete the town centre masterplan because you can’t do one little bit. We need to make sure that all of the town centre is regenerated.”