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The Levelling Up Fund “brings together the Development for Transport, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to invest £4.8 billion in high value local infrastructure.” While open to all local authorities, it is especially targeted at former-industrial areas, deprived towns and coastal communities.

Local authorities across the country submitted bids for funding for infrastructure improvements including regenerating town centres and high streets, local transport upgrades and investment in culture and heritage.

The distribution of the first tranche of funding was announced in the Autumn Budget 2021. Projects in Ashford, Brighton and Peterborough are among the areas benefiting from the boost, which we explore further in this blog post.

 

Ashford

Ashford International Studios at Newtown Works has secured £14,773,745 of Levelling Up Funding. Ashford Borough Council submitted the bid in June 2021, as it is among the borough’s strategically important projects in its draft Corporate Plan 2022-24.

Given the green light in April 2020, the £250m project proposes to transform a site which has remained unused since the 1980s into a mixed-use development centred around TV and film studios. It will be delivered by lead developer Quinn Estates who is working with Ashford Borough Council, The Creative District Improvement Company and EKC Group.

The funding will address challenges in remediating the site and help offset the high costs involved in the delivery, as well as enabling the delivery of a digital industries skills and education centre to support local skills growth.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said of the funding: “This strategic project will deliver a key economic driver for Ashford and Kent, much needed inward investment for the UK and will regenerate a nationally important railway heritage site.”

 

Brighton

The Kingsway to the Sea project to revive Hove seafront was awarded £9.5 million, which is “aimed at reviving the green spaces between the King Alfred Leisure Centre and Hove Lagoon.”

Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the city’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, said: “We’re delighted to receive this funding which will help us realise some of the ambitions our residents, businesses and local clubs have for this part of the seafront. We are working to improve our seafront for everyone to explore and enjoy and will continue to take advantage of funding opportunities to continue the regeneration.”

 

Peterborough

Central to Peterborough City Council’s £20 million Levelling Up Fund bid is the proposed development of a Living Lab at the new ARU Peterborough, which will open in September 2022. At the heart of a new culture hub on the campus, the lab will be able to accommodate thousands of STEM students. The project will grow skills, create more than 500 jobs and support economic growth.

Following the announcement of the funding, Chancellor Rishi Sunak visited Peterborough to see how the funding would make a difference. He commented: “It has been fantastic to come to Peterborough and see levelling up in action, with £20 million from our Levelling Up Fund transforming the city-centre site into a vibrant cultural hub that local people can be proud of, all while boosting jobs and the economy.”

 

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Date: 9 December 2021