North West regeneration schemes celebrate funding awards linked to Spring Budget
The Government has announced a series of funding deals for North West towns and cities linked to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget yesterday (March 15).
The investments go some way to assuaging huge disappointment in some locations at previously missing out on vital levelling up funds to drive their regeneration plans.
One such scheme was Sefton Council’s plans to develop the Bootle Strand district. Now, it is celebrating after receiving £20m for the first phase of repurposing the Strand shopping centre and the wider transformation of Bootle town centre.
Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) has also shown its commitment to supporting Sefton Council with its vision for the future of the town centre by awarding £2m of funding to enable the council to carry out further pre-development work to bring forward a full business case for future phases of the project.
Leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher, said: “Of course, we were naturally disappointed about the outcome of our bids for Levelling Up funding in both Bootle and Crosby. However, we are delighted to have received notification of the intent to award Sefton Council £20m of capital funding for the first phase of the repurposing of the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle town centre.
“This award reflects the quality of the Levelling Up funding bid submissions we made to government, the vision we developed for the future of the town centre, and the strength and breadth of consultation and engagement with stakeholders and communities across the town.
“It also reflects the need in Bootle for such funding, given the continued economic challenges the town faces, that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis in recent years.”
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Devolution has given regions like ours the opportunity to chart our own course and invest in projects that will make a genuine difference to people’s lives.
“Despite some setbacks and disappointing decisions via the Levelling Up Fund, today’s announcement is a big step in the right direction and it is fantastic to see that Sefton’s ambitions for the future of Bootle Town Centre are finally being realised.”
Sefton Council’s vision for Bootle aims to create a thriving town centre that works for all people, brings investment and interest to an area filled with opportunities and builds a happier, healthier, more resilient population.
Stalybridge has also received government funding, of £19.9m to move forward regeneration plans for the town centre.
The plans include repair work to the Civic Hall to support its reuse and enhancement including housing the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery and library, and unlocking brownfield and other sites for future residential and commercial development to help the facilitation of further private sector investment. It will also include improvements to the public realm, pedestrian routes and access to public transport.
Cllr Gerald Cooney, executive leader, Tameside Council, said: “This is fantastic news for Stalybridge, we felt we had a strong bid around our plans and we were disappointed when it was unsuccessful in round two of the Levelling Up fund, and so this is welcome news for Tameside.
“The monies will allow us to build on the existing work under way in Stalybridge, supporting the GM Mayor’s Town Centre Challenge and complementing the emerging work in relation to the Stalybridge High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) including the projects on the Heritage Walk, Civic Hall and public realm improvements.
“This work will also be closely linked with the improvements to our public and greenspaces and supporting cultural activities following the successful £2m proposal to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) for borough wide projects.”
Meanwhile, redevelopment plans for Eccles town centre have received a £5.4m fillip from the Spring Budget.
The funding will come from the new Capital Regeneration Projects initiative announced in the House of Commons yesterday (March 15).
This funding comes after Eccles was turned down for levelling up funding in 2022, despite Salford’s townships not receiving national funding from government to date. Eccles narrowly missed out on support last year, but the proposal to reinvigorate the town centre has now been assessed as a high quality plan and will benefit from the same level of funding that was previously bid for.
The proposal and creation of a new vision for Eccles, developed jointly between Salford City Council, residents, local businesses and stakeholders, is part of the council’s commitment to improving the town centre. This vision is to make Eccles a thriving town centre once again. The recent purchase of Eccles Shopping Centre was the first step in bringing this vision to life and securing a brighter future for the town centre.
The long term plan will now see the council continuing to work with the local community as well as seeking a development partner to help bring this shared vision to life. The goal is to create a vibrant town centre where people can eat, meet and play. There will be a focus on building a place that celebrates its heritage while forging a new future for itself.
Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, who has attended the MIPIM global property conference in Cannes this week, said: “It’s no secret that in recent years Eccles, like many other town centres up and down the country, has faced decline. So, today’s announcement in the Spring Budget is welcome and provides much needed funding for the city. However, it was also much needed funding last year and, as a team, we were extremely disappointed that Eccles did not receive essential levelling up funding in 2022.
“We have always been committed to delivering real, impactful change in Eccles town centre and we have a plan that we are consulting on and will be implementing. This started with our purchase of Eccles Shopping Centre and continues through our engagement with the community, local businesses and stakeholders, whilst also seizing the moment to raise awareness of the future of Eccles town centre through our time at MIPIM.”