Council bids for Levelling Up funding for Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe Harbour

Ilfracombe Harbour - Credit: NDC

North Devon Council is making a bid, with Ilfracombe at its heart, to the Government for a share of funding that helps areas invest in infrastructure improvements and regenerate deprived town centres, despite the district being placed in the lowest priority category to receive the fund.

The £4.8 billion Levelling Up fund is a joint initiative between HM Treasury, Department for Transport and the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government and will be delivered through three annual rounds.

The fund has been designed to help provide investment for areas where it will make the biggest difference, including ‘deprived towns and coastal communities’.

The council was disappointed at Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement in March that North Devon had been placed in the third - and lowest priority - category for 'levelling up'. Despite this, a decision was taken by the council to pursue a funding bid in June 2021.  

The council, MP Selaine Saxby and other key partners have put Ilfracombe at the heart of the bid due to the high levels of deprivation in the town and reliance on a seasonal low-wage economy.

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The council says the district's second largest town would benefit from the funding because its ageing infrastructure has lacked the necessary investment to upgrade or improve but a lot of existing work in prioritising needs, preparing project concepts and engagement with business, residents and stakeholders has already taken place.

Lead member for Economic Development and Regeneration, councillor Malcolm Prowse said: “Ilfracombe is a wonderful town with many fantastic local businesses and a great community spirit. However, it relies heavily on seasonal tourism, and there is a lot of deprivation in the town.

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“A huge amount of work has gone into planning improvements for Ilfracombe; however, we need funding and resources to make a real difference and turn the plans into reality. We therefore felt it was important to go ahead with a funding bid, in spite of the Government's decision to place us in the lowest priority category for funding. We wait with baited breath for the outcome of our bid later this year."

North Devon MP, Selaine Saxby, said: “The Levelling Up Fund is one of three strands of investment currently available to local councils.  In addition to Devon County Council’s ‘Community Renewal Fund’ bid for the UNESCO North Devon Biosphere, I am delighted that North Devon Council have put in a ‘Levelling Up Fund’ bid for Ilfracombe.

“While we may be in the lower priority tier for this particular fund, we need to level up within North Devon and Ilfracombe is quite rightly the priority. We may not be successful on the first round of this bid, but I am optimistic that we will see significant investment in Ilfracombe.”

The council is requesting £6.9m funding for the following proposed improvements:

  • The Seafront Masterplan to deliver sea defences, improved public realm, wayfinding scheme, equipped play and upgrade to existing recreational facilities, kiosks offering the opportunity for flexible and pop-up trading spaces, Capstone Hill walk improvements and viewing platform upgrades
  • Refurbishments within the Landmark Theatre and input of new technical equipment to allow a greater range of performances to take place. Developing the facility for an evening food and drink offer at the Landmark

The Government will make announcements on successful bids in the autumn.

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