Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and Warrington are among the first seven locations to have funding bids accepted as part of the Government’s much-vaunted levelling-up programme.
Over the course of the last 15 months, 101 locations across the country have submitted or will submit bids for funding as part of the £3.6n Towns Fund. Mostly, towns are limited to £25m , with up to £50m allowable in exceptional circumstances.
Of the £26m it bid for, Warrington has secured £22.1m. Projects it intends to take on include:
- A health and social care academy, along with a health & wellbeing hub in the town centre.
- An advanced construction training centre
- A new bus depot
- A comprehensive active travel programme as the council seeks to improve walking and cycling infrastructure
- A digital enterprise hub
- A remastered cultural hub at the Pyramid, intended to “nurture the arts professionals of the future, providing a modern and flexible creative space to collaborate, produce, present and perform”.
Chairman of Warrington’s Town Deal Board and managing director of Muse Developments, Matt Crompton, said: “To receive such positive news in the current circumstances is validation that the investment proposal we put forward was the right plan for Warrington.
“I’m pleased to see our collective hard work pay off and I’m excited about what this positive funding news means for the future of our town centre.”
Blackpool, which last week saw its hospitality trade come together to call for a special support package to help the sector through tier 3 lockdown measures, has been awarded £39.5m, with the headline schemes being the upgrade of its illuminations and the further development of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone.
The town has also this year secured support from Whitehall’s “shovel-ready” Getting Building Fund, with £5m committed to the Houndshill shopping centre extension and £3.63m allocated to the acquisition and revamp of Abingdon Street Market – Warrington’s all-electric bus fleet plan also secured £5m in this programme. Blackpool also has a £25m bid in for Future High Street support.
A £25m package has been agreed for Barrow-in-Furness, which the local authority could spend on developing a new learning quarter, community wellbeing hubs and improving cycling and walking infrastructure. The council also plans to run a housing renewal programme.
Heads of terms are expected to be signed over the next month, with the next stage being the development of detailed business cases for the individual projects within each town’s programme.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This government is levelling up opportunity all across the country. We are unlocking the full potential of towns and communities, giving them the support that they need to thrive.”
Jenrick added that the Town Deals “mark the start of locally designed regeneration projects across the country. Backed by £180m, we are boosting skills, job creation and connectivity in these seven towns – providing investment and confidence at a crucial time for these communities”.