Birmingham: The city council’s Cabinet has today agreed to submit five bids worth £82million for funding from the second tranche of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF).
At a Cabinet meeting this morning (June 28), Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, presented a report on behalf of him and Deputy Leader Cllr Brigid Jones detailing the five capital bids that Birmingham City Council proposes to submit to the second tranche of the Levelling Up Fund (LUF) totalling £82.264 million.
The council has already been successful in bidding for three projects within the first round of funding from the Government – A457 Dudley Road Improvements, Moseley Road Baths & Balsall Heath Library, and the remediation of the former Birmingham Wheels Site (Bordesley Park).
The new bids, summarised below, are aligned with the council’s Levelling Up Strategy and the key LUF criteria set out by the Government. They have been put forward following engagement with the relevant Members of Parliament.
Erdington High Street
Erdington is within the 10 per cent most deprived areas in the country and the high street has suffered a major loss of footfall due to nearby shopping parks. £10.750 million is being requested from LUF to deliver a transformational scheme for the high street. This bid is a reworked and refined version of the initial bid during round one, taking into account the feedback given in response to the bid. The LUF will be used to transform the High Street into a thriving centre, with business incubation space, housing, cultural, leisure and social activities, improved urban realm and physical and social connectivity within the area. A new community space will be created with the acquisition of 152-156 High Street – currently Poundland. The bid would also see the redevelopment of the former swimming baths into a Community and Enterprise Hub by Witton Lodge Community Association, and the delivery of new public spaces.
The Northfield LUF project is requesting £11.4 million to regenerate Northfield Town Centre. This would provide the services and amenities that local people require and develop the transport network to allow them to access these by sustainable transport modes. The package of measures includes: the demolition of Prices Square to create public realm and a diverse range of facilities, improved public realm and pedestrian and cycle infrastructure at Victoria Common, improved public realm in the town centre, schools streets measures, junction improvements on the A38, improved bus priority, traffic reduction, cycling infrastructure and mobility hubs.
Druids Heath is the most-deprived area in Birmingham, and one of the most-deprived areas in the country and is a priority for housing regeneration. £20 million is being requested from LUF to be the catalyst for transformational change. This will develop housing, community, social and sustainable opportunities for the residents as well as providing cycle routes to Kings Heath and the city centre, and a canal bridge to the new village centre, and freeing up more land for residential development and regeneration through the grounding of pylons. The fund would also see a newly built community hall and library, youth centre, sports pitch, commercial and start-up units and the regeneration of the Village Green and Dell.
National Centre for Decarbonisation of Heat
A total of £20 million will be requested from the LUF to help Birmingham to address the biggest challenge for delivering on its Route to Zero plan – decarbonisation of heating for homes and buildings. The National Centre for Decarbonisation of Heat (NCDH) will focus on the delivery of low-carbon and low-energy heating solutions in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The facility would be constructed at Tyseley Energy Park in East Birmingham and would offer training in heat pump and district heating installations, showcase retrofit designs and test out deployment solutions. It will contain a hangar with training stations and mock houses, community engagement areas, and meeting and office spaces.
This aligns with the council Levelling Up Strategy which calls on the Government to support the aim of retrofitting 166,000 social homes as part of the 3 Cities Programme, whilst unlocking a major growth sector to attract manufacturing jobs and finance into the region. This would help to address inequalities in Birmingham, as it is often the poorest people who live in the least energy-efficient homes.
Edgbaston Community Facilities
Some of the city’s most economically and socially deprived communities live within a mile of Edgbaston Stadium. A total of £20 million would fund a range of new community and cultural facilities would be developed at the Stadium to address health and wellbeing challenges, new learning and training hubs to boost employment, and enhanced public realm and accessibility via new walking and cycling routes to address inactivity. The LUF would fund those elements which are not revenue-generating. The Community Facilities Package also includes a community hub at the former Quinton Police Station building to provide support for local engagement, training and reskilling, and a sporting hub to improve health and wellbeing.
Cllr Ward said: “I am delighted that Birmingham City Council will be putting forward these five ambitious projects to the Levelling Up Fund. If successful, they will deliver true change to communities across Birmingham, helping to improve the lives of our residents for decades to come.”
Cllr Jones added: “We are determined to tackle the structural inequalities that continue to hold too many people back in Birmingham. With 42 per cent of our children growing up in relative poverty, and a 10-year gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest neighbourhoods, we know that radical action is needed. These LUF bids can help to bring prosperity to our communities, improving life chances and restoring pride to our neighbourhoods.”