Council dismisses ‘Sunak favouritism’ claims over Catterick Garrison town centre funding

An artist's impression of the new town centre.

Government funding for a £21m project to regenerate a town centre in Rishi Sunak’s constituency is justified as it will help boost one of North Yorkshire’s most deprived communities, a meeting has heard.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive marked a major milestone in a proposal launched by Richmondshire District Council to enhance Catterick Garrison town centre, by accepting £19m from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The scheme will see land at Shute Road, Richmond Road and Coronation Park, which is owned freehold by the Ministry of Defence, handed to North Yorkshire Council on a 125-year lease basis for a peppercorn rent.

When it was announced earlier this year the proposal had been the only successful Levelling Up Fund bid in the county, questions arose around the fairness of the allocations.

Critics slammed the move to include the Catterick Garrison scheme as among 100 projects awarded a share of £2.1bn as “favouritism” towards what was described as “Rishi Sunak’s wealthy rural constituency”.

Labour claimed London, which received £151m, was getting more than both Yorkshire, at £121m, and the North-East, at £108m.

The plans will provide more community facilities and space and to improve walking routes and pave the way for further improvements that will deliver extra retail and commercial premises and drive further investment into the area and the wider town centre for both the military and civilian communities.

The plans include a new town square and landscaping improvements, including upgrading Coronation Park and Shute Road by proving enhanced play/ active spaces and provide enhanced accessibility routes linking into the existing town centre.

The scheme will also aim to enhance key footpaths and cycleways through Coronation Park and on the approach to the town centre and see a community and enterprise facility with glass pavilion and outdoor seating area created.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation has agreed in principle to make the four acres of land a contribution towards their financial obligations, the value of which is estimated up to £1.395m.

The meeting heard the Ministry of Defence’s proposed total match funding contribution was expected to be £1.73m, alongside £382,000 of grants from Richmondshire and North Yorkshire councils.

The meeting heard the council’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, underline the project had been the sole successful bid for Levelling Up funding from the Government.

The project is running three months behind schedule, officers said, due to “the late announcement of the bid result by Whitehall officials, but the pace of the development had since “picked up considerably and all site survey work is now complete”.

However, it is anticipated the project will not be completed before June 2025.

Councillor Derek Bastiman, executive member for Open to Business, described the Government grant as “a really exciting and encouraging amount of money”.

Catterick Garrison councilor Kevin Foster added: “It is a really needed development for both our civilian and our military establishment and residents. I see it as a really good open green space to be used by our families both civilian and military.”

The authority’s deputy leader, Councillor Gareth Dadd, said when the funding was announced “fingers had been pointing” because it project was in the Prime Minister’s constituency, but the perception by some that “North Yorkshire is a land of milk, honey and green fields” was also wrong.

He said: “We have areas of poverty that are not exactly visible, but do exist. Given that the Levelling Up Fund was five times oversubscribed I think it’s justified that we accept this, and very much needed.”

1 Comment

  1. Has any thought been put into who is going to maintain this expensive town centre and grassed area’s etc or will this be like many projects once finished and the glories gone everyone walks away and it soon looks a mess as no one then will put the money up for maintenance etc.
    This happens with the road maintenance etc, everyone makes a big song and dance about building new roads then they just walk away and as we all can see most roads are in a shocking state through the lack of maintenance.

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