Eden Project North has secured all £50m it requested from the Levelling Up Fund. Credit: via planning documents

Levelling Up Fund: North West secures £355m

Eden Project Morecambe, an AI university campus in Blackpool, and the restoration of Haigh Hall in Wigan were among the projects awarded a share of the government’s £2.1bn pot.

After months of delays, the second round of Levelling Up Fund winners has been announced. More than 100 projects were victorious in their bids, including 15 based in the North West.

“We are firing the starting gun on more than a hundred transformational projects in every corner of the UK that will revitalise communities that have historically been overlooked but are bursting with potential,” said levelling up secretary Michael Gove.

“This new funding will create jobs, drive economic growth, and help to restore local pride,” Gove continued.

“We are delivering on the people’s priorities, levelling up across the UK to ensure that no matter where you are from, you can go as far as your talents will take you.”

The North West claimed 17% of the cash, totalling £355m – the largest award win for a region, based on the government’s award breakdown which lists London and the South East separately.

The region with the second-most funding was the South East, which secured £210m. Wales came in third with £208m.

Elsewhere in the North, Yorkshire and Humber netted £121m, while the North East landed £109m.

While the North West managed to secure £355m, the amount was far short of what had been requested. By Place North West’s count, 25 North West councils had applied for more than £800m. Among those unsuccessful in their bids are Manchester, Liverpool, Salford, Warrington, and Bolton.

In North Wales, winners abounded. Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, and Anglesey councils were all successful in their Levelling Up bids.

North West and North Wales winners

Allerdale Council – £10m

The money will go towards improving Workington’s highways and cycle routes.

Blackburn with Darwen – £20m

The funds will go towards transport infrastructure improvements to alleviate congestion issues around Junction 5 of the M65. Blackburn’s bid for £20m for a skills and education campus was not successful.

Read more about Blackburn’s bid.

Blackpool Council – £40m

Blackpool and Wyre joined forces to request £40m for the councils’ Multiversity scheme, which would create a carbon-neutral university to help address the skills gap and teach about artificial intelligence and robotics.

Read more about Blackpool’s bid.

Cheshire West and Chester Council – £13m

A fry cry from the £60m requested, the £13m allocated to CWAC will be put to use to build cycle links and walkways in Ellesmere Port, as well as to improve the town’s market hall.

Conwy County Council – £19m

Conwy will use the funds to build a direct cycle route between Llandudno Junction and Betws y Coed via the Conwy Valley.

Copeland Council – £20m

According to the government, the £20m will help drive industrial development in the area.

Cumbria County Council – £18m

Cumbria County Council will use the funds to improve 30km of highways and repair 21 bridges.

Read more about Cumbria’s bid.

Denbighshire County Council – £11m

Denbighshire’s project focuses on restoring historic monuments in Ruthin.

Gwynedd Council – £19m

The approved project will see the upgrading of walking and cycling routes at the National Slate Museum and Neuadd Ogwen arts centre.

Hyndburn Council – £20m

The money will go towards redeveloping Accrington Market Hall, turning it into a high-end venue for eating, drinking, and socialising that celebrated independent traders.

Isle of Anglesey County Council – £17m

New walkways and cycle paths are coming to Holyhead as part of the approved project.

Knowsley Council – £15m

Knowsley had requested £43m to help with the restoration of Picture Palace in Prescot and to regenerate Huyton Village Centre. However, the government only opted to fund the council’s work to improve transport and leisure facilities in Halewood.

Read more about Knowsley’s bid.

Lancashire County Council – £50m

Lancashire County Council ‘s approved projects will introduce real-time information at bus stops, walking and cycling routes improvements, and an expansion of the area’s green space offer.

Lancaster City Council – £50m

The council received the full amount of its £50m bid for Eden Project Morecambe, previously known as Eden Project North. The Eden Project estimates the attraction would see 740,000 visitors a year and create 300 green jobs.

Read more about Eden Project North.

Oldham Council – £20m

Only one of the council’s £20m Levelling Up Fund bids were successful – the one focused on Oldham East and Saddleworth. This includes creating a business centre to support environment technology start-ups, launching the Northern Roots Learning Centre, and constructing cycle and pedestrian links. The second bid, to help transform the Lyceum Theatre and re-open the Old Library, did not secure funding.

Preston City Council – £20m

Preston will use the money to redesign the nearly 80-acre Ashton Park to include a community sports hub and multiple football pitches. Other parks to see improvements include Moor Park, Waverley Park, and Grange Park. The successful bid also includes funds to replace the Old Tram Bridge with a new cycle/footbridge over the River Ribble, public realm upgrades at Friargate South, a mobility hub with cycle storage at Preston bus station, and new cycle paths and walkways in the city.

St Helens Council – £20m

St Helens had submitted two Levelling Up Fund bids. One was to reimagine Earleston’s Town Hall as a workspace and community hub. The second, submitted with Knowsley Council, was to restore the Gamble Building and Picture Palace in Prescot. The Earlestown project was the only bid that was successful.

Trafford Council – £18m

Trafford Council only secured £18m out of the £46m it bid for. The approved project will see the refurbishment of Partington Sports Village.

Read more about Trafford’s bids.

Wigan Council – £20m

Haigh Hall will be restored thanks to the Levelling Up Fund bids secured by Wigan Council.  The project will see the grade two-listed Haigh Hall transformed into a cultural destination with dining and hospitality spaces.

What the government says

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Through greater investment in local areas, we can grow the economy, create good jobs and spread opportunity everywhere…

“By reaching even more parts of the country than before, we will build a future of optimism and pride in people’s lives and the places they call home.”

Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “This is a major down payment on local jobs, growth and regeneration, all part of our mission to level up opportunity across the country.

To unlock more growth right across the country, we are making it easier for locally-elected leaders to make things happen without banging on a Whitehall door by extending devolution deals to all areas of England that want them by 2030.”

Your Comments

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A lot of this seems to be upgrading highways and introducing cycle paths. Surely this is just highways budget renamed?


Not sure how the St Helens bid included the Picture Palace in Prescot, which is in Knowsley .

By Anonymous

    Hi Anonymous! St Helens and Knowsley joined forces for the unsuccessful bid that focused on Picture Palace – as well as the Gamble Building. I’ve updated the story to make that more clear. – J

    By Julia Hatmaker

Pitiful , only a small number of these projects will affect the real causes of deprivation in the North West . I mean real time information at bus stops !! Are you having a laugh !!!!

By Anonymous

Maybe Lancashire county council could put money towards lighting up the motorway and cleaning up and fixing the streets.

By Anonymous

Lol the south east got almost double the north east. Leveling up 😉

By Levelling Up Manager

How are updating bus stops levelling up, even old buildings regeneration could come out of lottery funding which is public raised monies that dont take funds from the tax payer. Empty town centres, roads crumbling, poor housing, go look at areas like Bath, Tunbridge Wells, Chipping Norton, Oxford, the government would never let these areas decompose like the north of england. Levelling up is just a farce, the north should pay less taxes as less is spent on its upkeep as it is do far away from where MPs actually live.

By June Owens

13 million for CWAC is buttons for what’s required to improve Ellesmere Port. Just a political joke!


How many millions of pounds have been wasted preparing unsuccessful bids in this opaque beauty contest? Government will not release the criteria, which is suspicious. Most of the projects would have been funded by councils themselves ten years ago, without having to beg. Is this what local government has been reduced to? The sooner this charade ends, the better.

By Peter Black

Peanuts compared with the loss of finance from brexit and local government cuts, South big winners compared to deprived communities with potential to grow in the north . Sunak constituency a bug winner ….😀😀😀😀

By George

This country is broken and in dire need of a fundamental change – forcing these councils most of whom are grappling with huge budget issues to waste yet more money drawing up expensive and absolutely futile bids smacks of the Govt continuing to thumb its nose at people

By Anon

Typical, Manchester missing out under a conservative government. There’s so much disparity between the rich and the poor. So much money required to boost the living standards of working class people. We can’t have clean air. We have inadequate and insufficient housing. A lot of the shopping centres and leisure centres are dilapidated, libraries closed down or vastly reduced hours. Levelling up is just code for strip away funding and re allocate at will. It’s the equivalent of making people re interview for their jobs after merging roles to reduce the overall pay burden to a company. Shame on this government for all the damage they have done to local services.

By Anonymous

Levelling up? Is this is some kind of sick joke? Local authorities’ central funding cut by 50% in the last 10 years, 7 of the 10 cities with the biggest cuts in the north, multiple councils issuing section 114 notices, multi-billion £ black holes in council budgets. And we’re supposed to believe that a few quid here and there will be transformational??

By Anon

Oh such a pity. The North has done so much better under previous London based Labour administrations. I means there’s….oh, that’s right, we haven’t.

By Anonymous

The investment in education is a great result for Blackpool. The multiversity is a step forward in the towns plan to stop the internal brain drain. It will also help regenerate the town centre.

By Anonymous

Preston will use the funding to fix the Old Tram Road pedestrian bridge linking Walton-le-Dale to Avenham Park, among other improvements. This has been a longstanding issue in the city for Preston and South Ribble councils and residents alike. You should include this detail in your report for readers, who will welcome the news.

By James

    Hi James! I’ve updated the story to include more detail about Preston’s plans – including specifics as to the parks that will be improved with the funding. – Julia

    By Julia Hatmaker

Why have all our Southern governments been allowed to treat the North with such contempt? Comparing us to East Germany is the ultimate insult. We have been managed by the same governments as the South since the war, not some communist stasi.

By Elephant

The whole term ‘levelling-up’ is nothing short of institutionalised condescension…

By Anonymous

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