Home Business and economy Knowsley looking to boost local economy with Levelling Up Fund Bids

Knowsley looking to boost local economy with Levelling Up Fund Bids

by Jonathan Kearney

The funding window has opened for round 2 of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund and plans are well underway for Knowsley Council to submit three funding bids.

The Levelling Up Fund aims to address economic differences in different parts of the UK which have an impact on people’s lives through their pay, work opportunities, health and life chances.

Knowsley Council will be submitting three bids – one for Huyton Village Centre, one for Halewood and a joint bid with St Helens Council for Prescot, which also covers St Helens town centre.

The second round of the Fund will focus on the same three investment themes as the first round:-

  • Local transport projects that make a genuine difference to local areas
  • Town centre and high street regeneration
  • Support for maintaining and expanding the UK’s world-leading portfolio of cultural and heritage assets

Huyton bid

The Council will be strengthening its round one bid for Huyton Village Centre to accelerate the Council’s transformational ten year development plans for Huyton Village. The Council’s £20m funding bid would support and help to bring in an array of new services and businesses into Huyton, creating more choice for residents and visitors as well as generating increased footfall to support new and existing businesses. Plans include a new mixed use commercial district (which includes new office accommodation, residential development and a hotel), enhanced public spaces (public realm), improving access into and out of the village centre, creating more jobs and generating more footfall into the village centre which will support local businesses. Included in the bid submission will be:

  • A new Village Green located in the heart of the commercial district
  • An event space to host a range of events, performances and shows
  • Improvements to public spaces which could include enhancements to lighting, paving, seating, trees and plants
  • A health and wellbeing garden
  • Improvements around the train and bus station entrance, creating a warm welcome for visitors
  • New homes
  • Ensuring development sites are construction-ready

Given the Council is now at an advanced stage in appointing a Development Management Partner to support its plans for Huyton Village Centre, the timing of this announcement for round two bids couldn’t be better.  If successful, this funding will be a real boost in helping to bring forward these exciting proposals.

Prescot bid

A joint bid with St Helens Borough Council is being prepared to reposition both Prescot in Knowsley and St Helens Town Centres as cultural and leisure destinations in the Liverpool City Region. This will build on both areas’ strong history and heritage links to support an exciting  cultural and leisure offer.

Knowsley Council has ambitious plans to drive investment in Prescot Town Centre and position the town as a key visitor attraction. Construction of The Shakespeare North Playhouse continued at pace throughout the pandemic with the playhouse now preparing to open its doors in July 2022, creating a fantastic visitor attraction locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Specifically for Prescot, the bid will focus on further developing the cultural and leisure offer in the town, enhancing existing facilities as well as creating new retail and leisure opportunities. Plans include investment in the Prescot Picture Palace – a Grade II listed building which will be restored to its former glory as a cinema – and improving links with Prescot Museum.

Halewood bid

Knowsley Council is currently exploring development and investment proposals for Halewood in response to the growth in the size and population of town. Plans will seek to ensure that both existing and new residents have access to appropriate recreational facilities and experiences that are befitting such a township. Further details will be shared as the Halewood bid develops.

Cllr Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “We are committed to ensuring our communities have access to the very best facilities and the Levelling Up Fund will help us to accelerate our development plans and bring us in-line with other parts of the country.

“Through the delivery of our plans, we will be creating vibrant places where people choose to come and live, work or visit.

“Having previously been rejected for round 1 funding, we are working hard to strengthen our Huyton bid, as well as developing new bids for Prescot and Halewood, in order to attract this much-needed funding.”

 Next steps

The Council will be working with, and seeking the support of, local communities and partners as the bids are developed. Regular updates will be shared through www.knowsleynews.co.uk as well as the Council’s social media channels.

The deadline for bids is Wednesday 6 July 2022.

Once again, round two of the Levelling Up Fund will be a competitive process with areas bidding against each other. Knowsley remains a priority one area.

Bids will be assessed against four main criteria – characteristics of places, deliverability, strategic fit with local and fund priorities, and the economic case in line with the published assessment framework.

There will be a three staged approach to assessment and decision making.

It is expected that successful bids will be announced in October 2022.