The new Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark is urging councils in Wales not to miss out on a share of £4.8 billion for projects in their local areas as the deadline for the UK Government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund approaches.
Next Tuesday (2 August) is deadline day for bids and so far, it is expected the vast majority of Welsh councils will submit bids.
In the first round of the Levelling Up Fund in 2021, 10 Welsh projects received a cash injection to support local initiatives, worth a total of £121 million.
The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund is for improving town centres, local transport, and cultural and heritage assets.
Speaking ahead of the latest round of bids arriving, Secretary of State for Levelling Up Greg Clark MP said:
“I am determined that we will go full steam ahead to back proposals that will make a big difference to public places.
“The UK Levelling Up Fund is bringing to life things that will make a big difference to local communities and I look forward to seeing many great projects get the green light.”
Projects that benefited from the first round of the Levelling Up Fund in Wales include a £17.7 million project to transform the 900-year-old Haverfordwest Castle into an all-weather visitor attraction, boosting the visitor economy, regenerating the town centre and preserving and enhancing local heritage. It will also support:
- the creation of a vibrant outdoor performance space
- renovation of the gaol in preparation for a flagship visitor attraction
- a perimeter walk and further green infrastructure enhancements.
- The funding will enhance the town centre through the creation of an architecturally stunning ‘signature bridge’ between the clock tower on the Riverside and the Western Quayside development where work is underway to restore and redevelop the building.
We also allocated close to £14 million to restore the Montgomery Canal through the first round of funding, in a project being delivered by Powys County Council and the Canal & River Trust.
Speaking about the funding, Michael Limbrey of the Montgomery Waterways Restoration Trust (MWRT) said:
“The funding is a great boost to the restoration. For many years, the Friends of the Montgomery Canal and the MWRT have worked with other volunteer groups to promote the benefits the restored canal can bring to mid-Wales.
“We are now closer the dream of restoring the link from the isolated section of canal in Welshpool to thousands of miles of waterway across the main network of England and Wales.”
Secretary of State for Wales Robert Buckland said:
“The UK Government launched three funds last year to help achieve our aim of levelling up every part of the UK and so far more than 170 projects in Wales have benefitted from more than £160 million in new funding.
“The Levelling Up Fund will make a huge difference to our communities in the coming years. There are some fantastic Welsh projects underway and I hope to see many more applications from right across Wales for this next round of money.”
In addition, our Community Ownership Fund – currently open for bids – has allowed communities all over Wales to take vital assets into public ownership, such as local project Cymru Creations, who were awarded £90k to purchase the Queen’s Ballroom in Tredegar which had fallen on hard times.
Kevin Phillips, CEO of Cymru Creations, said:
“It will lift the town… It’s an old, dark building at the moment. We are hoping to refurbish it into the permanent home for the Blaenau Gwent Film Academy and events of all kinds to bring the community together once again.”
On top of this, the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund is set to boost local areas. £45,900 from this fund will go towards developing and improving the accessibility of network of trails in the Dinas Mawddwy area of Gwynedd including those with disabilities.
It’s not just levelling up cash making a difference in Wales – as well as a £585 million injection through the Shared Prosperity Fund, a new Freeport will soon open for bidding and, when established, will provide a huge boost to the Welsh economy creating hundreds of jobs. This joint endeavour with the Welsh Government is an example of how our partnership of nations can work together to create positive change.
After the Levelling Up Fund deadline day, bids will be assessed against whether they are deliverable, meet levelling up objectives and have the strength of their economic case assessed. Shortlists will be drawn up separately for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and these will then be considered by ministers.
We hope to announce successful bids later this year.