£1.5bn levelling up pot to ‘breathe fresh life into disadvantaged communities’

Business

Plans to “breathe fresh life into disadvantaged communities” across England have been announced as part of the government’s Levelling Up White Paper.

Wolverhampton and Sheffield will be the first of 20 areas picked to benefit from a “radical new regeneration programme” launched by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

The chosen locations will be prioritised for a £1.5bn Brownfield Fund made available from April 2022.

The cash to fund the work was allocated by the Treasury last year as part of a £1.8bn sum for brownfield regeneration promised by the chancellor at the last budget.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove arrives in Downing Street, London, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson carried out a Cabinet reshuffle that has so far brought about the exit of Robert Buckland as justice secretary and Gavin Williamson as education secretary and Dominic Raab's demotion from foreign secretary to Justice Secretary. Picture date: Wednesday September 15, 2021.
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Michael Gove says the new plan will ‘help to reverse the geographical inequalities which still exist in the UK’

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are on a mission to regenerate the nation, transforming derelict areas in our towns and cities into thriving places people are proud to live and work in.

“We are refocusing Homes England and empowering local leaders to support levelling up, delivering Kings Cross style transformational regeneration projects across the country – starting in Wolverhampton and Sheffield.

“This huge investment in infrastructure and regeneration will spread opportunity more evenly and help to reverse the geographical inequalities which still exist in the UK.”

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But Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary, accused the government of handing out “rehashed pots of money and policies”.

She said: “The limit of this government’s ambition for Britain can’t surely be this? Rehashed pots of money and policies for just 20 places. High streets will only thrive when people have money in their pockets to spend.

“We need good jobs, decent wages, genuinely affordable housing and action to deal with the unfolding cost of living crisis so people can spend in their local economy and young people no longer have to get out to get on. Instead, they’ve handed a few local areas a fiver and nicked a tenner.”

Aerial view of Sheffield city centre
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Sheffield will be also among the first of 20 areas selected to benefit

Read more: Levelling Up: Has COVID-19 changed the maths of where funding should go?

A separate £1.5bn Levelling Up Home Building Fund will also be launched next week.

It will provide loans to small and medium-size builders and developers to deliver 42,000 homes, with the vast majority going outside London and the South East.

Meanwhile, the department has announced seven Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) which are set to benefit from £120m of funding “to transform derelict brownfield sites into vibrant places where people want to live and work”.

The seven MCAs – West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool, South Yorkshire, North of Tyne, and Tees Valley – stand to gain 7,800 homes, the DHLUC said.

The department added that, as with the £1.5bn Brownfield Fund, this £120m pot formed part of the £1.8bn sum pledged by the chancellor last year.

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