A DEVOLUTION deal for West Yorkshire has been announced in today's budget - and it includes major investment for Bradford.

The Chancellor's budget announcement includes a commitment to a mass transit system in West Yorkshire, a £317 million from the Transforming Cities Fund to improve access to public transport, cycling and walking and £500,000 to support "master-planning in Bradford City Centre to maximise regeneration opportunities from Northern Powerhouse Rail."

There will also be an "Act Early" research hub set up in Bradford to build on the work of Born in Bradford and find better ways to improve the lives of the District's children.

The devolution deal will also see a new Mayor for the region elected in May 2021.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority had submitted a £500 million bid to the Government for the Transforming Cities Fund for schemes across West Yorkshire. That bid included the pedestrianisation of several streets in Bradford City Centre, including Hall Ings and Market Street, the creation of a park and ride near the M606, improvements to Bradford Interchange and a new cycle route down Thornton Road.

More details and images of plan to transform Bradford city centre

Although the government has not granted the full £500 million, the full package of investment announced for West Yorkshire today is likely to mean that most of the proposed schemes go ahead.

The deal also includes a new West Yorkshire Investment Fund, money to develop plans for future housing sites and a new heritage fund which will support the creation of a new British Library North in Leeds.

The devolution deal brings:

  • £38m for 30 years into West Yorkshire Investment Fund with a 25%/75% capital/revenue split
  • Government commitment to work with West Yorkshire to develop modern mass transit system through access to a new five-year integrated transport settlement
  • £317m from the Transforming Cities Fund to dramatically improve access to public transport, cycling and walking
  • Access to bus franchising powers
  • Control of the £63m annual Adult Education Budget for West Yorkshire to closer align spending on skills to the opportunities and needs in the local economy
  • A £25m fund to support the development of a British Library North in Leeds
  • £500,000 of Government funding to support master-planning in Bradford City Centre to maximise regeneration opportunities from Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Funding for the next stage of development of the Outline Business Case for Leeds station redevelopment.
  • The creation of a West Yorkshire Mayor to be elected in May 2021
  • A commitment to work towards policing and crime powers to be transferred to the Mayor in 2024. The planned Police and Crime Commissioner election in May will go ahead.
  • Government commitment to engage with the Combined Authority on priorities emerging from the Future Ready Skills Commission
  • Access to the Government’s new Brownfield Regeneration Fund to support housing growth and £3.2m to support the development of a pipeline of housing sites across West Yorkshire.
  • £200,000 funding to support the work of the Yorkshire Leaders Board

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “I’m delighted we have finally managed to secure a strong deal for West Yorkshire, the biggest per capita devolution deal in the UK so far, and that Bradford has played a leading role in the negotiations.

“The deal gives West Yorkshire access to significant funding and powers over the next 30 years to meet the needs and ambitions of our communities, including better public transport, improved skills, support for business and investment in our heritage while also tackling the climate emergency.

"We need to spend the money so that every resident, from Keighley to Kippax, feels the benefit of it. Growth is no good if its benefit is only felt by a few, it has to be inclusive growth for the many.

“We will have the freedom to decide locally on our priorities and how this money is spent, enabling the region to make its full contribution to the UK economy and putting West Yorkshire at the front of the queue for further funding and powers.

“Also announced today is that Bradford is set to benefit from £500,000 direct funding to help us develop a masterplan for Bradford city centre, maximising regeneration opportunities from Northern Powerhouse Rail.

"This is a significant year for Government to decide which route Northern Powerhouse Rail will take and therefore getting the investment now shows what confidence Government have in the city.

“The announcement of the funding for Transforming Cities Fund today means we can go ahead with our plans for pedestrianisation of more of the city centre, cycling improvements and better access to Bradford Interchange; plus a new park-and-ride for South Bradford to give alternative access to the city centre and key employment sites.

“The Government has also committed to working with us on developing the district’s Act Early research hub which focuses on early interventions in childhood health to improve lives and opportunities for children and their families. This builds on the world-renowned work of Born in Bradford.”

Professor John Wright from Born in Bradford said: “Since we created Born in Bradford over ten years ago it has grown into one of the largest research projects in the world, drawing on cutting edge data from 50,000 people from across Bradford.

“Our scientific evidence has helped shape local, national and international policy to improve health and wellbeing. Our work on air pollution has been a catalyst for clean air legislation. Our work on diet has highlighted the harm of chemicals in our food. Our work with schools has helped improve the care of children with autism and prematurity.

“We are delighted to see that the Government are offering their support to develop the case to expand Born in Bradford to create the Act Early Institute, which will bring international experts to Bradford to build a City Collaboratory to improve the health and life chances of future generations.”

Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, said: “I’m proud that Born in Bradford, one of the largest health and social policy research studies in the world, is based in our district. The Budget recognises the importance of this work and commits to work with us to create a new Act Early institute. This will help create an evidence base to help policy makers make decisions to improve the long-term outcomes for children. It is fitting that this work is taking place in Britain’s youngest city.”