MILLIONS of pounds will be spent on regeneration projects in Featherstone, starting with the opening of a new supermarket today.
Years of strife over the town’s controversial supermarket plans ended this morning as a branch of German food giant Lidl opened for business.
The multi-million pound shop marks the start of a number of projects geared towards promoting tourism and improving the appearance of the town.
Mayor of Featherstone Coun Kay Binnersley said: “Over the last five years the town has struggled without an anchor supermarket. Because this is opening, people will come into the town centre to spend money. What it clearly says to future investors is this is a place on the up.
“The town is starting to turn around and that brings forward work, money and jobs to the local economy, so it’s a welcome addition – people are excited.”
Further projects are also in motion including a new housing development at Girnhill Lane. Private sector funding of £30 million will pay for 260 new homes on the condemned estate, a quarter of which will be affordable housing.
Developers, Strata Homes, aim to submit a planning application next month and to start work within the next 12-18 months, a move which Coun Binnersley hopes will provide a “gateway” to the proposed Nine Lakes Country Park, an 8,000-acre tourist attraction accessible via Featherstone.
She said: “It’s the start of a bigger strategy. Girnhill Lane has been an eyesore for years so if we want the town to be a gateway to Nine Lakes, we want the town to appear cared for. It’s the little things that make a different to move forward.
“The Featherstone Steering Group has been monitoring all the projects to try and improve the whole outlook of the town centre. We’ve done up the disabled ramps in the precinct and the canopies have been replaced, and we’ve had a lot of old signage cleaned up around the town.”
A further £600,000 will be spent on developing a link road between Green Lane and the industrial estate.
The project includes upgrading Green Lane and improving the junction between Girnhill Lane and Station Lane to reduce congestion and improve access through the town.
It will be included in the council’s three-year Local Transport Plan which starts in April.
“This is millions of pounds worth of investment for Featherstone over the next ten years,” said Coun Binnersley. “It’s not going to happen tonight, tomorrow or next week – regeneration is a long-term project.
“When all this started it was the vision for the next ten or 20 years, now it’s starting to come to fruition and I believe Featherstone will look a very different place in ten years time.
“People will feel and see the difference.”