Having been introduced by government in March this year, the ‘Levelling Up Fund’ aims to drive investment in areas that have previously been left behind, supporting projects that have been identified as priorities by local stakeholders which will have a meaningful impact within their local area. This can include transport improvements, town centre investment, and expanding an area’s cultural offering.
These aims are at the core of East Lindsey District Council’s bid, which will connect the Towns Fund investment on the Lincolnshire coast through new walking and cycling routes to the Lincolnshire Wolds, as well as cultural investment into the district’s market towns.
The Connected Wolds strand of the bid will create two landmark routes for walking and cycling across the district, covering more than 100km. This includes a new Wolds Multi-User Path, which was first identified by the Council in 2017, and an adjoining Connected Coast route, providing walking and cycle links to the national cycling route and the Towns Fund programme, through which Mablethorpe and Skegness were awarded a total of £48.4m.
The new routes would create pathways between Tetney Lock and Horncastle, via Louth and Gibraltar Point to Mablethorpe, significantly boosting the walking and cycling offer for Lincolnshire and helping to create new business opportunities, encouraging active travel, and attracting visitors.
The Levelling Up bid also features the creation of a Wolds Cultural Quarter - a package of investment in culture, heritage, and marketplace improvements across Alford, Spilsby, Louth, and Horncastle.
In Alford, funding would support Alford Manor House with their existing National Lottery Heritage Funding bid for the creation of a new millwright visitor experience and extending its events offer.
The funding would also see works to restore Alford Windmill back to working order, and facilitate the creation of a visitor café/shop and holiday accommodation.
Spilsby Sessions House would be supported to bring the building back into use as a theatre. The venue would serve as a Community Arts Centre with live performances, cinema screenings, café and exhibition area, and workspaces.
Training programmes would be developed to encourage residents, especially younger people, to engage with culture.
The listed building also has a significant place in history, for its past use as a jail, and funding would allow the building’s old police cells to be opened to the public.
In Louth, two disused properties would be brought back into use as a social enterprise cycle hub.
Louth’s hub would provide outreach hubs in the other three market towns encouraging cycling and wider countryside access into the new routes and their supporting towns.
The same buildings would also provide accommodation on their upper floors, as either residential accommodation or holiday lets.
All four towns will also benefit from investment in their marketplaces, allowing for new events to take place at the heart of each town.
Councillor Adam Grist, Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, said: “We were delighted to receive the Towns Fund money for our area earlier this year, and now we’ve got the chance to help build on that work for the benefit of our inland areas too.
“New cycling and walking infrastructure will provide a huge boost to our local economy and environment - in addition to being able to attract more visitors, it’d also provide the opportunity for our residents to engage with more active, healthy travel.
“The proposed improvements to the market towns complement this perfectly, building on the work we’ve undertaken through our Vital and Viable programme to maximise each town’s strengths and ensure they’ve each got an unique offer.
“I’m delighted with this bid and thank our shared Alliance team for putting together two sets of ambitious plans for ourselves and Boston Borough Council.
“I’d also like to pass on my thanks to all the stakeholders and partners, including Lincolnshire County Council, that have supported us to produce the bid.”
It is anticipated that the Government will make a decision on the district council’s bid in the autumn.