111 Councils to receive levelling up funding
The government has selected 111 local council projects to receive financial support in its drive for economic growth and urban renewal.
Lancaster City Council has been allocated £50m for the Eden Project North in MorecambeA total of £2.1bn is being allocated in round two of what the government calls ‘levelling up’ funding – but the councils will need to get a move on to make sure they spend the money before the offer expires.
The 111 projects include the proposed Eden Project North visitor attraction in Morecambe, a new train service in Cornwall and Cardiff City Council’s Crossrail phase one project, all of which get £50m of Treasury funds.
Other projects getting more than £40m include a new university campus in Blackpool, enhancements to Peterborough railway station and Dover port access road improvements. Nearly £27m is going towards a new roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands. Overall, £672m is going on improving transport links, £821m to kick-start community regeneration and £594m to restore local heritage sites.
The round two allocations follow the £1.7bn granted to 105 projects from round on of the levelling up fund in 2021. Government has also confirmed there will be a further round of the funding. Other projects among the 111 to benefit include:
£20m to regenerate Accrington town centre, which will see the renovation of Accrington Market Hall
£18m for a revamp of Cleethorpes seafront
£20m towards the construction of the £210m Willenhall Garden City in Walsall
£17m to refurbish Leek town centre
£5.1m to build new female changing rooms in 20 rugby clubs across Northern Ireland.
However, there is a slight catch: the money must be spent by March 2025 or they don’t get it. This puts pressure on local authorities to press ahead with their projects.
“The deadline for spending the money of March 2025 is a challenging one – particularly as inflation has soared in the interim,” said Arcadis UK cities director Peter Hogg, who has advised local authorities on their bid strategies. “Authorities will need to rapidly move projects through the design phases, complete any land acquisition, secure planning approvals, appoint contractors and move into delivery – no mean feat, especially with no shortage of competing priorities for local government time and resources.
“At Arcadis we’ve supported 40 levelling up fund applications in rounds 1 and 2 with a success rate of 90% to date. This experience tells us that wise local authorities will now urgently look at projects and delivery structures to make sure they are still deliverable and work hard and smart with trusted partners to get projects over the line.”