A Wakefield Council initiative to reconnect Pontefract’s historic castle with the town centre, by creating safe and healthy streets, has won a national award.The ‘Streets for People’ scheme claimed the win for ‘fostering a healthy high street’ at the Planning Awards 2021.An initial design for the project was open to public consultation back in February 2020 as part of a package of work led by built environment consultancy Nash Partnership, including the Re-Connecting Pontefract Masterplan. The scheme focuses on traffic management, reducing air pollution, creating places which help people to interact and encouraging sustainable methods of transport such as cycling, walking and public transportation.Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Growth and Property, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this great scheme has received national recognition.“The aim is to re-connect the castle to the town centre, so that visitors to the castle can walk along Horsefair to discover the town centre and vice-versa. It will benefit residents and businesses as well as encouraging visitors to come and enjoy our district.”

Cllr Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Highways, said: “Streets for People represents a new way of looking at highway and public realm improvement work. A successful project will set the benchmark for similar efforts in our town centres in the future and I am very pleased that our efforts to do things differently have been recognised. Massive congratulations to everyone involved in the project.”

The initiative has been awarded £1m of funding through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Integrated Transport Block programme as part of its West Yorkshire Transport Strategy 2040 programme. It is one of a number of pilot projects in the region.

The Horsefair scheme is the first step in efforts to deliver the wider Masterplan for Pontefract. The Masterplan aims to regenerate the area, introduce more town centre living, improve town centre connectivity and encourage more people to visit and live in a sustainable and healthier neighbourhood.

A representative from Nash Partnership, said:

We’re over the moon to be named the winner of the ‘healthy high street’ category at this year’s national Planning Awards. Congratulations to Wakefield Council, Pontefract Civic Society, the Nash consultant team and everyone else involved!”

Paul Cartwright, civic society chair, said:

“A number of key members of the civic society were actively involved with a number of workshops for the Pontefract Masterplan, and this proposed scheme for Horsefair, also working with WDH residents and school pupils. We’re pleased to see the scheme being recognised, and we’ll now look forward with some urgency to see public realm and other associated areas being worked up into a fully deliverable, funded project”.

A detailed design for the ‘Streets for People’ scheme will go out to public consultation later this year and the Council hopes to begin work on site in 2022.

The awards ceremony can be watched at https://www.planningresource.co.uk/planningawards2021

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