LEVELLING UP: Up to £160m for Leeds in new government fund
Leeds planning chiefs have said the city could bid for up to £160m of funding from the government’s levelling up fund, but have warned there is a race against time to get bids in.
The fund was unveiled in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring budget last month, and allows local authorities to bid for large grants for big infrastructure projects. It would then be hoped these projects could help revitalise struggling local economies.
A report, set to go before Leeds City Council’s decision-making Executive Board next week state that the eight parliamentary constituencies that cover the city could bid for up to £20m each, meaning a potential £160m windfall for the city as a whole.
It added: “The themes of the levelling up fund will enable consideration of projects that will improve the city’s transport infrastructure, regenerate town centres and deliver investment and transformation in our cultural assets, which indicates a very strong fit with the Best Council Plan and Inclusive Growth Strategy ambitions.
“There is huge potential for highly beneficial investment across all parts of the Leeds district that could focus on thematic and/or focused and integrated place shaping projects, addressing connectivity challenges, supporting economic recovery and aligning with work in our Priority Neighbourhoods.”
It added, however, that the government had put tight timescales on the bidding process, and that work needed to be done “quickly and diligently”.
Councillors are expected to allow senior officers to prioritise possible bids for the city, before councillors agree final bids, which must be submitted before June 18.
The document concludes: “The LUF is an opportunity to draw in significant capital funding to the city for delivery of projects and interventions in the 2021/22 financial year that could hugely accelerate or supplement existing programmes and enable delivery of unfunded but well-developed projects and targeted improvements.
“It has the potential to drive innovative and creative responses to place challenges across the district through well considered and developed proposals for future rounds of the LUF, where initial proposals may not be robust enough to meet the assessment criteria for this first submission.
“The council proposes to act quickly and diligently to realise the benefits of this investment for the city in line with our strategic ambitions for Inclusive Growth, to support Health and Well Being and to address the Climate Emergency.”
The Executive Board will meet on Wednesday, April 21.
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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