Wheldon Road upgrades spinoff job creation



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Castleford Tigers stadium update February 2024 Image: Castleford Tigers

The professional rugby league club Castleford Tigers and Axiom Yorkshire has confirmed that the planning applications for a major upgrade to the Wheldon Road Stadium in Castleford, England (UK) and a significant new employment development on the Axiom site, at Junction 32 on the M62, have both been recommended for approval by the Planning Officers and will be discussed at the Wakefield Council’s Planning Committee meeting to be held on February 15th.

‘Castleford Tigers’ stated that if planning is approved for both projects, the circa £200 million Axiom Yorkshire proposals will deliver new employment, logistics and manufacturing floor space, providing around 1,830 permanent full-time jobs in Castleford, with a further 365 ‘spin-off’ jobs created within the Wakefield Council area. Furthermore, during construction approximately 1,500 on and off-site construction jobs per year are likely to be generated at both the Wheldon Road and the Axiom employment site.

The Castleford Tigers are a professional rugby league club in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England (UK). They play their home games at Wheldon Road, also known as ‘The Jungle’, and compete in the Super League, the top flight of the British rugby league system.

The 10,500-capacity Wheldon Road (known as the Mend-A-Hose Jungle for sponsorship purposes) is the home ground of the Castleford Tigers rugby league club in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England (UK). It is on Wheldon Road, just outside the Castleford town centre. The record attendance of 25,449 was for a Challenge Cup match in 1935.

‘Castleford Tigers’ further stated that once fully operational, this significant job creation at the Axiom site is calculated to generate around £142 million of local economic activity per year. The Axiom site will also provide approximately £3.2 million per year of additional Business Rates when fully occupied.

In addition to major economic benefits for Castleford and the surrounding area, the Axiom proposals would provide £12.2 million of funding towards major upgrades at Castleford Tigers’ Wheldon Road home. With a further £2 million from the Wakefield Council’s Rugby League Resilience Fund, improvements to the Wheldon Road Stadium will bolster the club’s ability to meet the Grade A status required to secure long-term Super League status.

The Wakefield Council’s Rugby League Resilience Fund is a £6m funding pot to support the district’s three rugby league clubs, boosting grass roots rugby and community use for other sports. It will offer a grant of up to £2m each for the Castleford Tigers, the Wakefield Trinity (a professional rugby league club which competes in the Championship, the second tier of the British rugby league system) and the Featherstone Rovers (a professional rugby league club which competes in the Championship, the second tier of the British rugby league system).

The plans will deliver a much improved matchday experience for the fans, the players and the officials alike. Proposed improvements to Wheldon Road include a new all-seater main stand and refurbishment of the three existing stands. A new banqueting suite and corporate hospitality function will help the club to generate much-needed additional revenue, including on non-matchdays. An upgraded stadium will also enable the Castleford Tigers Foundation to deliver additional work of social value to the community, which has been calculated as being worth the equivalent of an extra £19.6 million of spending per year.

The Castleford Tigers Foundation is a registered charity that can help change people’s lives, no matter what their age, background or ability. It offers an innovative range of sporting, educational, entrepreneurial, health and welfare programs allowing individuals to aspire, dream and excel.

Axiom will also deliver £15 million of highways improvements to the Junction 32 roundabout.

According to the Council’s Planning Committee report, the Wheldon Road proposals have been supported by 2,256 people and the Axiom application has had 2,101 representations in support.

Maintained Mark Grattan, Castleford Tigers Rugby League Football Club (RLFC) Managing Director, “Everyone knows how important the club is to the town and we take seriously our responsibility to maintain professional rugby in Castleford. However, it is no secret that the available money within the sport is diminishing. Without significant external funding, like that offered by the Axiom proposals, there is no realistic prospect of us raising the money required to pay for the major improvements to our stadium which are necessary over the long term. In turn, significantly improved banqueting and hospitality facilities will help us to substantially increase non-matchday income to the benefit of the club. We are also desperately keen to improve the facilities for supporters with disabilities. The proposed stadium improvements will also deliver a new base for the Tigers Foundation which does so much important work within our community.”

Added Grattan, “It is critically important that we secure approval for both the planning application for the Wheldon Road improvements and the Axiom proposals which pay for them.”

A spokesperson for Axiom Yorkshire, owners of the Junction 32 site, said, “We are pleased that both the planning applications have been recommended for approval by the Wakefield Council’s Planning Officers. If approved, the Axiom proposals alone will deliver around 2,200 permanent jobs, alongside further jobs at the stadium and during the construction period. The cumulative beneficial impact of this level of job creation, combined with the social-economic benefits to the area and the circa £142 million boost to the Wakefield economy, will deliver significant and lasting benefits for Castleford. It is now for the Planning Committee members to make their decision on both applications.”

The planning application for the Axiom site at Junction 32 proposes development of up to 141,085 sq. m of employment floor space, across approximately 13 units of varying sizes. The development will benefit from a total of 22 acres of public open space and landscaping, which will help to minimize the visual impacts of the development. In total, some 40,000 new trees will be planted and around three miles of new public paths and cycle routes provided, opening the site up for community use and linking the residential areas to the East of the site with Xscape, the Junction 32 Outlet Centre and the Glasshoughton Railway Station.

Axiom is a large single phase commercial development project situated in the North of England. It will be a 43 hectare ‘next generation’ retail and leisure destination comprising in excess of 75 retail, restaurant and leisure units, along with a Community Stadium which will be home to the Castleford Tigers RLFC all set within a contemporary country park. Axiom is one of the most significant out-of-town retail developments in England and is one of the largest out-of town retail planning consents to be granted in the United Kingdom in recent years.

Axiom is located in the heart of Yorkshire, the United Kingdom’s largest county, with direct access from Junction 32 of the M62 (one mile from the A1 and eight miles from the M1).

The Wheldon Road will benefit from a new all-seater main stand. As well as much improved ‘back-of-house’ sporting facilities for the players and officials, a banqueting suite and corporate hospitality function rooms will provide new opportunities for income generation. The upgraded facilities at Wheldon Road will deliver major improvements to be enjoyed by all fans, including new catering facilities and toilets. Importantly, improved accessibility and much enhanced viewing areas will transform the matchday experience for fans with disabilities.

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