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MONEY FOR MORLEY: Towns Fund

 

MORLEY TOWNS FUND | Morley will be “unrecognisable for all the right reasons” in the coming years.

That’s according to one of the architects of the town centre’s changing face, as millions of pounds of funding is set to pour into the area over the coming years.

As part of the Government’s Towns Fund, Morley was granted £25m to make improvements to areas in and around the town centre – which is expected to go on improvements to roads and services.

Indeed, some of the money is already being spent, with changes being made to roads around Morley Bottoms – a move which has had unexpected knock-on effects for business at the lower end of town.

Town centre manager Rachael Kennedy said: “It came to our attention that Morley Bottoms was one of the highest polluted areas of Leeds, and Leeds City Council highways knew we had to do something about that, to disperse the traffic.

“Although that was the initial reason it was looked at, there has also never been any safe pedestrian crossings there, and while it becomes a more popular area for business, we are spending some of the money making it a safer place.

“A lot of people think it’s all about footfall and supporting businesses, which is kind of an unexpected outcome of the project. It’s not the initial reason why we have done it, but it happens to be that there is a growing number of bars opening down there – there are seven in total now.

“The new pedestrianised safer space means businesses can spill outdoors and use the area.”

Works started earlier this year aimed at reducing traffic in Morley Bottoms in order to help reduce pollution levels.

The project, which involve closing the lower end of Queen Street to general traffic, and increasing pedestrian crossings have had their critics.

“Social media is rife saying it has caused congestion around other areas of Morley,” Ms Kennedy added. “But obviously it is going to while work is being looked at.

“Following completion of the works, highways will do an assessment of traffic volumes in the area. After a few months of reviewing it, we will possibly permit one-way traffic to go through Morley Bottoms.

“Morley Bottoms has beautiful buildings, and it has never really had any investment, in fact, the whole of Morley has been kind of forgotten in terms of the bigger city, but it is really exciting that we are getting some investment, not just from the town deal but from individual businesses and investors.”

Reported earlier this year, Morley’s towns deal bid stated that the New Pavilion Skills Campus – on the site of the former Orbit/After Dark night club – would see the historic site redeveloped into a “high-quality adult skills hub”.
Other planned work includes improvements to Morley Town Hall and Town Square, “delivering a high-quality refurbishment of the Grade I listed building and developing a cluster of arts and culture spaces”.
An improvement to the so-called Morley Station Gateway, would help “better connect the train station to the town centre and wider Morley area.”

 

Leeds City Council says work will now begin on developing the approved projects in further detail over the next year.

Rachael believes the work in Morley Bottoms could be the catalyst the town needs to kickstart the town’s regeneration.

“It’s become a really exciting, alternative destination,” she said. “It’s putting Morley on the map, with a different type of demographic we’ve not seen out and about in Morley before.”

“I think in the next five to 10 years, Morley is going to be quite unrecognisable, but for all the right reasons.”

(LDRS | Richard Beecham)


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