Bootle town centre is set to be transformed after Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt allocated £20 million in Levelling Up funding in his Budget today.
Sefton Council had submitted the bid under the second round of Levelling Up funding last year, but was bitterly disappointed to have been unsuccessful at the time. A £10.3 million bid for Crosby town centre submitted last year was also not progressed.
The Government has now reconsidered, and has today decided to allocate £58 million in three Levelling Up capital projects in the North West of England.
This will see the transformation of Bootle town centre, a new community hub in Stockport, and the redevelopment of markets as well as transport connectivity improvements in Rossendale.
The Government said: “Budget measures announced by the Chancellor are set to put powers and money in the hands of communities most in need, to help achieve the Prime Minister’s objective to grow the economy and level up across the UK. These measures will deliver more jobs, better services and more opportunities for local people.”
The Government will be working closely with local leaders in key areas to help attract investment and unleash economic potential.
Sefton Council leaders are delighted that the Government has now recognised the quality of its proposals to regenerate Bootle town centre and the impact it will make in one of the most deprived areas of the country.
The Bootle regeneration plans have been drawn up by K2 Architects and focus on the iconic The Bootle Strand at its heart.
Additionally, a large area of unused land alongside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal will be transformed into green spaces for local communities to use.
This will support more healthy lifestyles and make improvements to the overall environment.
Opening up access to the canal will provide a connection to an active leisure space and a natural highway for boats, canoes, cyclists and pedestrians. People will be able to travel sustainably to Everton Football Club’s new Bramley Moore Dock football stadium, a short distance away along the canal, and beyond into Liverpool.
The development will also contribute to a more diverse and better-quality town centre with new food and drink; culture, arts and entertainment spaces. A hi-tech gigabyte fast digital hub, education and training, business support and a new integrated health and social care hub will all be available on the high-street. This will complement, refresh and improve the retail outlets on which local people rely.
The investment will drive the growth of Bootle’s night-time economy, attract more visitors and drive inward investment from new businesses.
This will enable Bootle to rebuild after having been one of the boroughs hardest hit in the UK by the Covid pandemic.
The £10.3 million bid for Crosby Town Centre, which has not yet been successful, aimed to build a new learning, skills, health and well-being hub housing a library, GP/community health care and a place for people to both work and develop skills. Levelling Up Fund resources would have also allowed for a significant upgrade of the main gateways into the town centre, better pedestrian and cycle access and new electric vehicle charging points in car parks.
Speaking last year, Sefton Council Leader, Cllr Ian Maher said: “Our bids contain exciting, ambitious and realistic plans of what can be sustainably achieved with support through the Levelling Up Fund.
“As its name suggests this funding is for the purposes of levelling up, which is why we have focused on Bootle and Crosby where levels of deprivation are at their highest and people are suffering most from the current economic climate.
“We are fortunate in that we have already secured £37.5million of Town Deal funding for Southport, which we are using to support our delivery of a range of large-scale projects to regenerate the town and its surroundings.
“These bids now focus on parts of the borough which have the greatest need, some of which are among the areas hardest hit in the country by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bootle had also been hit by the news that the Government’s Revenue & Customs service and others were relocating out of the town and that Very Group were leaving nearby Aintree.
Sefton Council is committed to keeping The Strand at the heart of plans to regenerate the town. It has developed a bold vision for the future of Bootle, which would be supported by a successful Levelling Up fund bid.
Bootle MP Peter Dowd said last year: “Bootle town centre’s economy has been severely impacted by COVID 19 and the relocation of HMRC, and includes one of the country’s most deprived areas in terms of health, employment, income, education and skills.
“There is a pressing need for significant intervention to break the spiral of decline and Sefton Council’s decision to acquire Bootle Strand and put it at the heart of the town’s transitional regeneration programme is a brave and ambitious step.
“With support from the Government through the Levelling Up Fund this project will act as a catalyst for change and will help provide support at the heart of the local community.”