For those who aren’t aware, the city of Wakefield has had a lot of money spent on it in the last few years.

Our new Pinderfield’s hospital cost £215 million to build. But if you were to compare the new buildings to the old, you will see that it is money very well spent. I’ve heard very good things about the service, facilities and food available.

We have a brand spanking new £210 million shopping mall to bring us up to scratch with other cities. The tired old Ridings Shopping centre didn’t really show Wakefield in the best light. It was old fashioned inside, nowhere near modern enough, and it had a funny smell on the middle floor which only added to the dowdy, down and out feel.

Also, Wakefield is currently part way through one of the biggest urban regeneration projects it’s ever seen. Called Merchant Gate, the £140 million project is seeing a massive mix of office, residential and business space being created. An enormous multi-story car park has already been created, as well as Phase One of the overall project, Burbage Square has been completed. Yet to be started is a proposed hotel next to Westgate train station which is also set to be revamped, a ring of new flats and yet more mix-used office space is also still to be started. So my guess is that £140 million will go up by the time all the work is complete by (probably) 2013.

Not mentioned above is the modernisation of part of the city centre to include a new central water fountain (though it’s hardly ever turned on!) So my estimates put the total amount spent, including some of the other smaller projects that have taken place, to over £600 million. This is a lot of money to be spent on such a small city like Wakefield. However there is a point to this splurge of spending. The people in charge of Wakefield are hoping that all the new facilities, office space and desirable living areas will bring in new investment from businesses, create more jobs and attract new shoppers from further afield who normally wouldn’t consider Wakefield as a shopping destination. 

Wakefield has always been in the shadow of Leeds. They have always had better and more abundant office spaces, far better shopping and more of it, and a better business community. But with these new premises, Wakefield should be set to benefit for many years to come. And even now, people are already reporting busier trading conditions in The Ridings shopping centre.

My personal opinion is that when all the works are completed, Wakefield will be by a far a better place. Hopefully the wealth that will be created will be spread evenly throughout the city so everyone will be exposed to the benefits.