The Government confirmed yesterday (27 October) that we have been successful in our bid for funding from its Levelling Up Fund.
A total of £19.9m has been awarded for visitor economy improvements focussed on Leigh Port, the Cliffs Pavilion and wider seafront and town centre safety measures.
The Levelling Up Fund was launched by the Government in March 2021 to help support town centre and high street regeneration, cultural and heritage assets and highways improvement projects. Confirmation was given today as part of the Chancellor’s Budget announcements.
Work at Leigh Port will involve construction of a new quay wall frontage, improvements to site access, dredging of the area beside the quay wall and channel, and resurfacing of the wharf to make the port a safe place to work and visit.
Funding ringfenced for the Cliffs Pavilion will be used to improve the visitor experience by investing in hospitality, guest areas, and building refurbishments. A planning application for this work has already been submitted for consideration.
The £19.9m funding will be match funded by £5.5m, from the Council’s Capital Investment Programme, and works would be completed by March 2024.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “We have a history of securing external and Government funding to improve and enhance our Borough and I am delighted we have been successful again. As a Leigh councillor I am delighted for the recognition given to our ancient port.
“This funding will go a long way in helping us to further invest in and drive economic recovery, maintain support for vital facilities and services at Leigh Port and the Cliffs Pavilion, and encourage further increases in visitors to the area.
“Our aim of becoming the number one staycation resort in the UK is certainly achievable. We have a fantastic visitor offer across the whole town, and with further investment we can solidify our position as a soon-to-be city where people want to live, work and visit.
“I am pleased the funding is also focussed on projects which help local authorities reach net zero carbon emission goals, a target we have set ourselves by 2030. This funding, alongside our Green City Action Plan, will help us on our way to that goal.
A second bid - £15m bid for highways improvement projects – was also made but was not announced as part of today’s Budget. The council is seeking clarification on this bid, and if unsuccessful, whether a future bid can be made.
In June the Council also made a commitment to a third bid in the second round of Levelling Up Fund.
This third bid will focus on town centre culture-led regeneration and the Council is working with partners to develop a package of measures which meet the bidding criteria and contribute towards the Southend 2050 ambition. Further details of how much the Council will bid for, and how this money would be spent, will be announced in due course and when the funding round is launched.