LUF round two: Yorkshire denied
Projects in Yorkshire & the Humber worth a combined £120m secured support from the flagship programme, raising questions over the government’s commitment to genuine levelling up.
Announced in January, a total of 111 projects nationally will receive part of the £2.1bn allocated in the funding round. But the funding awards have been greeted with some cynicism: projects in the South East, England’s most prosperous region, secured around £210m.
Even within Yorkshire’s allocation, government critics have noted that one of the more generous awards, £19m for Catterick Garrison town centre, comes in the constituency of prime minister Rishi Sunak.
The government also confirmed that there will be a further round of the Levelling Up Fund, providing more opportunity to level up places across the UK. Round one of the LUF disbursed £1.7bn to 105 projects.
The largest single allocation in the region was to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which netted more than £40m to transform bus services, with a key focus on areas of deprivation. Transport as a whole was a big winner across the UK, with more than £670m from the fund being assigned to 26 projects nationwide.
Cuccessful Yorkshire projects in LUF round two:
- Barnsley Futures, £10.24m More than £10m is to be invested in an outdoor activity park in Barnsley, as well as revamping a youth centre in the town and developing a new music facility. The allocation also includes the further development of The Civic arts centre.
- Batley town centre, £12m Kirklees Council secured £12m, triggering the regeneration of Batley town centre through the Batley Blueprint, consulted upon last year. Proposed improvements include the pedestrianisation of Commercial Street, improvements to Market Place, providing better access around the town centre, and restoring the JBM Building for public use, supporting enterprise and access to jobs.
- Catterick Garrison town centre regeneration, £19m Bidding authority Richmondshire Council received £19m to transform Catterick Garrison town centre. This includes new routes for walking and cycling, a town square, and community facility that will host businesses and a community kitchen.
- Cleethorpes masterplan, £18.4m A seafront regeneration scheme, including renovating the town’s historic market square and the Pier Gardens.
- Barton principal town regeneration, £19.7m Barton-on-Humber will receive almost £20m for transport improvements, including improvements to the A1077 to alleviate congestion, 14km of cycle lanes, and a major programme at the railway station including new cycle parking, a car park extension and bus shelter upgrades.
- West Yorkshire Combined Authority bus enhancement project, £41.3m The standout ‘winner’ among the Yorkshire allocations on size alone, the £41m slug of investment will deliver improvements to bus services throughout the area, targeting improvements in safer and more accessible bus stops and stations, along with better highways to improve journey times.
Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove said: “We are firing the starting gun on more than 100 transformational projects in every corner of the UK that will revitalise communities that have historically been overlooked but are bursting with potential.
“This new funding will create jobs, drive economic growth, and help to restore local pride. 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.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt described the funding as a “major down payment on local jobs, growth and regeneration, all part of our mission to level up opportunity across the country”.
Among those disappointed was Sheffield. The city had submitted two bids, asking for £17m to support development in Heeley and £19m to develop a country park at Parkwood Springs, which has struggled since a fire destroyed its ski village in 2012.
Cllr Mazher Iqbal, co-chair of the Labour council’s transport, regeneration and climate policy committee, said: “We are naturally disappointed to learn Sheffield will not benefit from any further Levelling Up funding from Government this time around.
“Despite the hard work of councils across our region, the latest round of funding means that the Yorkshire and Humberside region ranks only eleventh out of twelve for Levelling Up funding by population across the UK.”
Cllr Iqbal said a “compelling and exciting” proposal had been put forward for Parkwood Springs, adding that Sheffield remains committed to seeing the plans through, describing it as an “absolute priority”.
Sheffield had two successful bids in LUF round one, for Castlegate and Attercliffe.