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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”