Knowsley Council has submitted three bids to the Government’s Round 2 Levelling Up Fund for £43m of investment in the borough. Levelling Up aims to address the economic differences between different parts of the UK as well as driving prosperity.
Bids have been submitted to support the exciting regeneration plans in Huyton Village Centre, to strengthen Prescot’s strong heritage and cultural offer through the development of the Picture Palace (a joint bid with St Helens Council which also includes the development of the Gamble building) and expanding Halewood’s retail and leisure offer to support the growing population.
Through this next round of the Levelling Up Fund, the UK Government will continue to invest directly in communities across all parts of the UK.
The Government has classified Knowsley as a Priority 1 area meaning it has the greatest need, but despite this, it was unsuccessful with its Round 1 funding bid for Huyton, despite feedback being received that the bid was strong. The Council has strengthened its Round 1 bid and has submitted a Round 2 bid.
Huyton Village Centre
The Council has an ambitious 10 year development plan for Huyton Village Centre and work is already well underway on delivering that plan. To date, 14 shop fronts have benefitted from contemporary makeovers which has helped to attract new businesses into the Village Centre over the last three years – specifically eight new food and drink outlets and more recently a menswear store. In addition, lighting has been installed on the Archway Road bridge to create a vibrant welcome into the Village Centre. Further lighting projects are planned to illuminate St Michael Church. Two outdated buildings on prime sites in the Village Centre have been demolished and are primed for development.
The £20m Levelling Up funding would help the Council to accelerate the plans for the Village Centre which includes the delivery of a new mixed-used commercial district with opportunities for a hotel, office space, co-working centre, and residential accommodation. It will be set around an attractive new Village Green which will connect improved public spaces, an improved station gateway area and high quality event spaces on Derby Road. These investment opportunities will be supported by excellent transport access by road, bus, and rail, and will be a catalyst for further development in the Village Centre. The proposed development could bring up to 1,700 new jobs and a £50m per year spending boost to the local economy.
Knowsley and St Helens Councils are bidding to transform two significant heritage buildings into thriving and interlinked cultural assets to boost the cultural regeneration in both town centres.
The Council has ambitious plans to drive further investment in Prescot Town Centre, improving the lives of local residents and strengthening the town’s developing position as a key visitor attraction in the Liverpool City Region. The Levelling Up Fund bid includes an £8m package of works to restore and reopen the Grade II listed Picture Palace and invest in its surrounding public realm, cementing the town’s cultural reputation following the acclaimed 2022 opening of Shakespeare North Playhouse.
St Helens will regenerate the historic and iconic Gamble building as a creative hub to gather, learn and connect.
Halewood is currently undergoing major growth with over 1,300 new homes being constructed in the East of Halewood. The Council’s bid for Halewood includes significant improvements to and expansion of the local district centre, greenspace and leisure facilities, as well as improved walking and cycling connectivity throughout the town and employment areas. This will support the existing and new residents and will provide a retail and leisure offer to meet demand. The improvements will address significant health inequalities, tackle the Climate Emergency and address access issues to employment.
Cllr Tony Brennan, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “We have ambitious plans for our Borough and our schemes are ready to go. Securing Levelling Up funding would enable us to accelerate our plans and ensure our communities get the improved services and facilities they want and deserve.
“We have been allocated as a Priority 1 area by the Government, acknowledging that our Borough needs financial support to level up with other parts of the country.
“We are continuing to progress and deliver our plans, but the Government’s funding would mean that they can be delivered much quicker.
“We did submit a strong Round 1 bid last year and we are hopeful that our Round 2 bids will attract funding in this latest round.”
The deadline for bid submissions is 2 August 2022.
A decision is expected around the Round 2 allocations in October 2022.
Why has no bid been submitted for Kirkby?
The Levelling Up Fund (LUF) is designed to invest in infrastructure that supports everyday lives across the UK. Applicants must demonstrate need and value for money and meet strict criteria in order for their bid to be successful.
Over recent years the council has invested significant amounts of its own money, along with £10m funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, to support the multi-million pound regeneration of Kirkby Town Centre. This includes the delivery of the new retail extension including a long awaited Morrisons supermarket, as well as the refurbishment of Kirkby Market.
Following on from these investments, further regeneration is now taking place in Kirkby Town Centre, with support from an additional £5m of funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. This includes the delivery of a new cinema, new food and beverage units and upgrading the multi storey car park. Additional improvements already underway include investment in new CCCTV, a new train station at Headbolt Lane and new housing developments with improvements to local green space.
As all of these developments are already being delivered without the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, Kirkby would struggle to meet the Government’s essential criteria. As such, the council has focused on alternative submissions which better meet this criteria and therefore have a greater chance of being successful.