Sandwell and Hull will be the first areas to benefit from a new major bespoke regeneration project which forms a key part of the Government’s levelling up programme.
Levelling Up Partnerships (LUPs), announced in the Spring Budget, will see tailored regeneration plans rolled out across twenty of England’s areas most in need of levelling up.
The areas have been selected based on analysis set out in the Levelling Up White Paper which considered places against metrics such as educational attainment, gross pay, and life expectancy.
Hull and Sandwell have this week been confirmed as the first two areas to receive bespoke support, backed up by £20 million each in new funding. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been working in the areas over the last six months in recognition that areas have unique opportunities and challenges which require place-based solutions. The bespoke LUP policy package has been designed to help address the specific challenges in Hull and Sandwell.
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove said:
Levelling Up Partnerships are about delivering long term solutions for local areas, working closely with communities on tailored interventions to overcome their unique challenges and seize new opportunities.
That’s why I’m thrilled to be announcing the first two Levelling Up Partnerships in Sandwell and Hull today backed by £40m of government funding.
No matter where you live in the UK, everyone should be given the chance to stay local, but go far”.
Areas will be awarded funding in the coming weeks and DLUHC will continue to work as a committed strategic partner with Hull and Sandwell, to deliver what was agreed in the Levelling Up Partnership and champion a place-based approach across Whitehall.
Hull has a growing green energy sector, with a range of employment opportunities including the manufacturing of wind turbine blades. Working closely with Hull City Council, DLUHC will invest in improved training facilities, including investing in the city’s colleges, which will train the next generation of workers to bring Hull to the cutting edge of the green energy sector.
Sandwell’s LUP is tailored to the area’s historically low educational attainment and health outcomes – it has the highest rate of obesity for children in Year 6 in the country. Sandwell will be given £2 million to improve facilities in the Millennium Community centre, providing space for pop-up health hubs and £1.65 million going towards Wednesbury’s green spaces.
Sandwell has strong transport links to other areas of the West Midlands, with regular trains and buses connecting the area to neighbouring Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Government is working in partnership with the WMCA who recently invested £6.5m into the metro tram extension. To build on this, Sandwell will be receiving up to £11.5m to help deliver 650 homes in the vicinity of new and improving transport infrastructure, including the West Midlands Metro extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.
DLUHC will also be providing £2 million to expand community facilities and £1.65 million to provide vital green spaces that sit at the heart of communities. Similarly in Hull, a growing community support network need the right facilities to connect to the people they serve. To address this, DLUHC is making a £1 million flexible funding pot available to community centres to help improve their premises and ensure people can access public and community services closer to where they live
Wednesbury in Sandwell will receive £4.5m to improve the quality of its town centre through installing new lighting, pedestrian areas, litter bins, and urban greening to help attract new businesses and improve pride in place. Hull will receive capacity funding support to attract private sector investment and make its waterfront area a buzzing space for people to visit, with £10 million being provided to remediate land at its East Bank.
New CCTV and anti-nuisance motorbike measures, such as bollards in pedestrianised zones will help boost local pride in their town centres and, new CCTV cameras in Sandwell will also be used to monitor and tackle fly-tipping. Sandwell has the highest rates of fly-tipping in the West Midlands.
Levelling Up Partnerships are modelled on successful intervention schemes in Grimsby, Blackpool and Blyth. The “deep dive programme” saw DLUHC work with local leaders and businesses to target investment and address the unique challenges each town faced. Blackpool and Grimsby saw huge improvements, including the avoidance of the closure of Grimsby’s fish processing sector and a £100 million regeneration plan being unlocked for Blackpool. In Blyth, the burgeoning high street was being held back by anti-social behaviour and loitering. DLUHC was able to invest and support in additional CCTV provision and establishing a new partnership between local businesses and the police, to help restore confidence in Blyth’s high street.
The Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove announced the LUPs ahead of a visit today to Sandwell to meet with local leaders, including West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Leader of Sandwell Council, Cllr Kerrie Carmichael, to discuss the new plans.
West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor, Andy Street, said:
This Levelling Up Partnership delivers very welcome funding for local projects that will make a real difference in the lives of local people. That impact covers a wide range of areas including enhancing job prospects, reinvigorating town centres like Wednesbury, ensuring a better start in life for young people and providing opportunities to get more active in nearby green spaces.
This funding will strengthen communities and boost economic growth. I’m particularly pleased to see more than £11m earmarked for the clean-up of the former sewage works at Friar Park – paving the way for a new urban village. The size of more than 32 football pitches, this is one of the largest brownfield sites in the country – set to be transformed with the construction of more than 600 new homes. The WMCA has been working closely with Sandwell Council on this scheme and this announcement is great news for the project.
Local collaboration – in partnership with Government – will enable us to continue to change lives for the better right across our region in the months and years ahead.
Since the Spring Budget announcements, DLUHC has reached out to all areas due to form part of a Levelling Up Partnership – details of subsequent regeneration packages will be made public over the course of the next 18 months. We are establishing details of the Partnerships with Bassetlaw, Mansfield, Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough.