Council proposes 3 bids to Levelling Up Fund to regenerate our region.

Thursday, 23 June 2022 10:55

At the meeting of Full Council (28 June) Elected Members will receive a report on round two of the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund. Members will be asked to approve the submission of three bids for capital investment in local infrastructure and to prioritise regeneration and growth in local places. Economic recovery Funding of £800 million is allocated for devolved nations which will support investment projects with up to £20 million of funding.

Priority will be given to investment in regeneration and growth, in places in need and areas of low productivity and connectivity. The first round of the Fund focused on three specific themes –investment in local infrastructure and local transport schemes; regeneration and town centre investment; and cultural investment. The second phase of the LUF continues to focus on these investment themes.

Dumfries and Galloway can submit up to three bids – one for a transport bid within our region; one other bid for projects situated within the UK Parliament constituency of Dumfries and Galloway; and one within the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency – working with the other local authorities whose authority boundary is within this – that being South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Borders Council.

Providing Members agree, Dumfries and Galloway will make the following bids:

Transport Bid
The proposed transport bid for Dumfries and Galloway Council includes three interlinking and distinct projects. The strategic focus for the bid is on ‘sustainable connectivity’ across the region, combining different elements to provide a ‘metro style’ access offer in our rural region.

The aim is to address: · Need for increased use of sustainable resource/power; · Access to ‘green’ energy and therefore future transportation for all; · Improve quality of vehicles by accelerating their supply; · Create hubs that work effectively to help regenerate centres providing better amenity for both residents and tourists.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure and Travel Hubs

The ‘rollout’ of the EV Hub model currently being delivered in Annan to five other locations across the region (Stranraer, Whithorn, Newton Stewart, Gatehouse of Fleet and Sanquhar) with other mini Hub(s) in Mid/Upper Nithsdale to create a network of ‘Hubs’ where charging is available for all EVs. The project will be led by Dumfries and Galloway Council with an estimated cost of £1.2 million per Hub.

Public Transport

The purchase of 16 low-floor electric buses ranging from 16 to 31 passenger seats and provision of improved bus stop infrastructure at 100 stops along core routes linking into the EV Travel Hubs. The EV buses average at £250k each and their provision will convert nearly a quarter of the public sector owned fleet from diesel to EV for a £4 million investment. Bus stop improvements are estimated at £2 million.

Cycle Routes

Provision of improved cycle and walking route facilities, centred on the deliverable elements of the new coast to coast cycle route between Portpatrick in the west of D&G and Eyemouth on the east coast of the Scottish Borders and on links to the Hubs. The D&G section of the new route includes construction of the fully designed path scheme from Penpont to Thornhill. These interventions, costed at £2 million, will be delivered in partnership with VisitScotland, Sustrans and South of Scotland enterprise (SOSE).

Dumfries and Galloway Constituency Bid

This proposed bid also includes three interlinking and distinct projects with a focus on developing outdoor activities, building on the boom in staycations and the increased desire for outdoor activity that occurred because of the pandemic. The bid seeks to do this in a way that also supports town centre regeneration through re using vacant or derelict buildings, providing new focal points to attract visitors.

Dalbeattie Rocks and Wheels

A new facility in Dalbeattie through reuse of the vacant former primary school site to create a unique base for road cycling, mountain biking, orienteering, cross country running, climbing and water sports, including the provision of visitor accommodation. This is being developed and delivered by the Dalbeattie Community Initiative, who have been supported by the Council’s Economic Development Capital Programme. The LUF bid for this is £5.4 million. £600,000 will, in the first instance, be underwritten by the Place Based Investment Fund to enable an approved application to be submitted. All efforts will be made to minimise this amount by actively engaging with other external funders.

Stranraer Water Sports Centre

Developed and delivered by Stranraer Water Sports Association, this project will create an inclusive water sports hub adjacent to the marina in Stranraer and which will include a number of public facilities. It will also provide a base for water sports events, building on the success of the World Skiffie Championships, providing a competitive position from which to bid for future water sports events. Together with the marina expansion project, developed through Borderlands, this will significantly contribute to the strategic aim of repositioning Stranraer as a marine leisure destination. The bid for LUF for this project is £4.6 million, with 10% already match funded through an agreed grant from D&G Council.

George Hotel Stranraer

This project aim is to create an anchor attraction within Stranraer town centre through the regeneration of the former hotel site, complimenting ongoing investment in the neighbouring Stranraer Museum and the previous investment in the nearby Millennium Centre, improving the town centre for visitors. A mixed use community arts, culture and activity centre is being developed. The estimated project costs for the Council owned site are £8.7 million. Whilst the Council will facilitate the initial construction, the longer-term plan is to develop options for community based management of the centre.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale Constituency Bid

The bid development for this opportunity have been prepared in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Borders Council and will make the case for investment of up to £20 million on three projects, one to be led by each of the local authorities, and in partnership with other local and regional organisations.

Proposal for Dumfries and Galloway: Annan Harbour Regeneration Project.

Focussed around Annan Harbour, this includes the refurbishment of a B listed former warehouse (Collett’s Building) into a hub. This includes a workshop for heritage boat craft skills; a café; meeting/community space; bunkhouse accommodation and harbourside landscape improvements, including the construction of a new footbridge. This should create a new focal point for water sports and activities. The project led by the Annan Harbour Trust, who have identified total project development costs of £9.6 million and are seeking £7.5 million from LUF.

Co-Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Stephen Thompson said: “These are extremely worthwhile projects across the whole of our region and, providing members agree, should go a long way to regenerate our region and boost our local economy. Along with the increased footfall that the new attractions will provide some of the bids have added value, such as the transport bid which seeks to improve connectivity whist accelerating our drive to be a Net Zero carbon emission region, addressing our Council priority to ‘Urgently respond to climate change and transition to a carbon neutral region.’ “

Co-Leader, Linda Dorward said: “These are high quality bids which, if successful, would address a number of priority projects across Dumfries and Galloway and also help to address the negative economic impacts of the COVID pandemic. With investment, and by working with a range of appropriate partners and initiatives, we can reinvigorate the local economy and deliver long-lasting positive impacts. I look forward to seeing a positive outcome that this funding would make and enjoying the benefits of these fantastic projects in our local communities.”