Win for the Forest of Dean

Local organisations secure £20 million Levelling Up Fund for the Forest of Dean


The Forest of Dean District Council, Hartpury University and College, and Cinderford Town Council have successfully secured £20 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund which will be used to improve leisure and community facilities, introduce new education opportunities, repurpose vacant buildings and grow the local economy across the Forest.

Councillor Tim Gwilliam, Leader of Forest of Dean District Council, said, “Ever since we submitted the bid in June, we have been eagerly awaiting to hear the result – and we are absolutely thrilled to be able to say that we have been successful in our bid, and have been allocated £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund.

“This funding will be able to make a real difference to our community. It will improve education opportunities, improve leisure and sporting facilities and help to grow our local economy. We want to continually be improving the Forest of Dean District and helping to raise aspirations and this investment will play a key role.”

“This bid was only made possible from the different organisations involved; the District Council, Hartpury University and College, and Cinderford Town Council, coming together for the benefit of our community.

"It is testament to the work of Stuart Emmerson and the Hartpury team , Cinderford Town Council , The Mp and his office and of course dedicated Cabinet Members and Officers here at the District Council. I can't begin to tell you how hard they worked. I said many times during the bid process that this was potentially game changing for the Forest of Dean. Now it will be reality,"

The proposal was initially submitted in June 2021, for the full £20m available to local authorities in priority places from the Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund.

The Levelling Up Fund will be used to redevelop the Five Acres site as a leisure destination with a centre for sporting excellence with a satellite site for Hartpury University and Hartpury College, along with a new University Innovation, Careers and Enterprise Learning Centre at Hartpury. The funding will also be used to help regenerate Cinderford Town Centre which includes bringing vacant buildings back into productive use.

Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor of Hartpury University and Principal of Hartpury College, said: "I am delighted with this great news, this project has the potential to be a game changer in the Forest of Dean, developing new facilities to support partnership working generating opportunities for the people of the Forest, young and old."

Chris Brown, Regeneration Lead for Cinderford Town Council, said, “From holding hundreds of conversations with residents about their dreams for the town, to being given the funds to make it a reality. Today really does represent a fantastic milestone in Cinderford’s journey to becoming an amazing place to live, work and play.

“Through bringing community assets up to a standard to be proud of, we will be better placed to grow and showcase the enormous talent we have on our doorstep. Such regeneration will also act as a catalyst for further investment for our growing town, with increased footfall, jobs and opportunities.

We can’t wait to start working with our friends at Five Acres and Hartbury to build a better future for the District”

Rt Hon Mark Harper, Member of Parliament for the Forest of Dean, said, “I am delighted that the Forest of Dean’s £20 million Levelling Up Fund bid has been approved by the Chancellor in today’s Budget.

“This is a huge achievement and I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the partners involved in assembling this bid.

“The work they put in to assembling this bid, and liaising with my office and I throughout the process, has allowed me to effectively make the Forest’s case personally to Ministers over the last few months, up to and including the Chancellor himself, which I’m delighted has paid off.

 “I look forward to meeting the partners involved in this bid very soon to discuss the exciting plans and next steps.”

At each location, there will be a focus on addressing the Climate Emergency, with a key emphasis on regenerating and adapting existing buildings, using renewable energy, reducing the carbon impact of developments and providing electric vehicle charging points to support sustainable forms of transport.

Before the proposal was submitted in June, over 16 expressions of interest were received which went through a rigorous process to check whether they would be eligible for the funding. All of the projects which were not included in the proposal, have helped form a Capital Project Portfolio to build a short, medium and longer term picture for future needs when funding opportunities arise.

Forest of Dean District Council is also entitled to £125,000 capacity funding from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, £85,000 of which will be used to resource the project delivery of the main Levelling Up Fund. The remaining £40,000 will be used to support the delivery of the Forest of Dean’s Active Travel Strategy, which is seeking to advance cycle route projects.