£3m to begin delivery of £62m Towns Fund

Ashfield Council will receive more than £3 million from the Government to kickstart the delivery of its Towns Fund projects to transform Sutton and Kirkby.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 1:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:53 pm

But councillors have moved to ‘temper peoples’ expectations’ and say the new initiatives will not be delivered overnight.

The district was successful in its bid for the Government funding scheme and will receive £62.6m to spend on several projects across Sutton and Kirkby.

The sum is the highest of any local authority area and £12.6m above the £50m threshold initially set.

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The Towns Fund is expected to support plans for a science discovery centre at Sherwood Observatory in Sutton.

The heart of the bid includes three major employment and skills hubs, creating centres for automated distribution and manufacturing, construction, and civil engineering, costing about £19m, £2.1m and £7m respectively.

The Towns Fund investment will also bring ‘gateway’ developments in north and west Kirkby, a sports hub on Sutton Lawn, leisure improvements at King’s Mill Reservoir, a science discovery centre at Sherwood Observatory and several other projects.

Now the Government is expected to provide the council with £3.13m to develop the projects and business cases.

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However, Coun Matthew Relf, the authority’s regeneration cabinet member, says many projects will not take shape for several years.

Schemes will start ‘popping up all around the place’ from 2022, he says, adding there are several stages the council must pass before receiving the full funding.

“Everyone has seen the exciting announcements of this funding and are desperate to start seeing the output of this,” he said.

“As much as I’m excited and enthusiastic about this funding, we do need to temper peoples’ expectations slightly.

“It is a lot of money and there are a lot of steps to make sure we’re spending it right and appropriately.”

The council has already received some Government funding through the Accelerated Towns Fund, helping deliver the new indoor market on Low Moor Road, Kirkby.

The authority will also receive £6.2m from the Future High Streets Fund, with this bid including a new ‘Maker Space’ in Sutton and a theatre at Sutton Community Academy.

Coun Jason Zadrozny, council leader, said: “People are starting to see things happen already, but it’s going to be a slow burn.

“Some of the big projects require a lot of change and are going to take years and years, but we have the money, we’ve got the project and this is happening.”

The early release of the Towns Fund cash will be included within the council’s capital programme budget.

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