Forest of Dean Levelling Up Fund bid
Announced in the UK Budget in March 2021, the Levelling Up Fund (LUF) will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK. Nationally, the £4.8 billion fund will support regeneration and town centre investment, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets. Projects should be aligned to and support the Government’s Net Zero goals demonstrating low or zero carbon best practice.
The Levelling Up Fund is a competitive process open to all UK local authorities with a first bidding round that closes on 18 June. Forest of Dean District is identified as a priority place in terms of the need for LUF capital infrastructure support. The District Council has the option to submit a single bid, or a multiple project bid containing a maximum of three interrelated projects seeking up to £20 million capital grant support.
The Forest of Dean bid
Forest of Dean District Council will be submitting a bid to the first round in partnership with Hartpury University and Hartpury College and Cinderford Town Council. The bid will be submitted on 18 June and will be for the full £20m.
If successful, the funding would:
- Build connections across the Forest, helping to join our communities
- Help our local entrepreneurs and homegrown talent find a home in the Forest, growing our economy and providing jobs by developing new, suitable space for businesses
- Provide more and better leisure opportunities, helping people stay active and healthy through new leisure facilities and active travel options
- Provide new further and higher education opportunities so our young people have more choice to get a good education
From the outset, all 3 project locations are being designed with carbon reduction, renewable energy and electric vehicle/bike charging points in mind to help to tackle the climate emergency.
There are three key elements to the bid:
Investment at Five Acres
The £9m proposal for the Five Acres site is to create a new leisure and community hub that would bring the derelict site back into use providing modern leisure, community and business facilities for the area, a new 4 court sports hall, an artificial all weather sports pitch and new eco visitor accommodation. The leisure and community hub would house a satellite site for Hartpury University and Hartpury College, bringing specialist education opportunities for young people to the Forest.
The wider site would be developed in partnership with West Dean Parish Council and would also include modern workspaces for local businesses and help promote active travel by connecting existing walking and cycling routes.
University, Careers and Enterprise Learning Centre at Hartpury campus
The flagship University Innovation, Careers and Enterprise Learning Centre, would use £10m to build on the current Hartpury University and Hartpury College site. It would support growth in student numbers, providing new opportunities to over 16’s in the Forest. The Centre would focus on encouraging and supporting local young people to stay in education or start their own business in the area.
It would also deliver a new Environmental Laboratory which would aim to spearhead new companies focussed on environmental technology based in the Forest of Dean.
Regeneration in Cinderford town centre
It is proposed that £880,000 is spent in Cinderford town centre, regenerating a number of key buildings and bringing them back into use to provide modern co-working spaces for start up businesses and new community facilities, arts and events space.
The former HSBC bank, Rheola House and the Methodist Church which is a Listed Building and a local heritage asset would be refurbished to provide great spaces for residents to meet, work and socialise in, boosting town centre footfall.
Further information on the projects
You can find more detail on all the three proposed projects which will be included in the bid in the following summary documents.
The bid will also be reviewed by the Forest of Dean District Council Cabinet on 10 June 2021. You can read the report here: Cabinet agenda item 10 - Thursday 10 June 2021
Expressions of interest process
To reach the final three projects included in the bid the council invited local organisations to submit expressions of interest (EOI).
A total of 16 EOI’s were submitted and were assessed against the Government criteria to make sure they were eligible before the final bid proposal was pulled together which the Council believes will have the best chance of success.
Projects that have not been included in the final bid have been compiled in a new Capital Project Portfolio. This document identifies a pipeline of short, medium and longer term projects and will be published on the Council’s website in July 2021.
Below you can find links to all the information the Government has released on this project including the criteria the Government have set for the bids: