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Gloucestershire Business News

Forest of Dean launches £20m Levelling Up Fund bid

A bid is being prepared for up to £20million funding to improve leisure facilities, introduce new education opportunities, repurpose vacant buildings and grow the economy across the Forest of Dean.

The bid for a share of the Government's Levelling Up Fund is being being prepared by Forest of Dean District Council, Cinderford Town Council and Hartpury University and Hartpury College.

The proposal would include a new University Innovation, Careers and Enterprise Learning Centre at Hartpury bringing jobs and education opportunities alongside redevelopment of the Five Acres site as a leisure destination with a centre for sporting excellence that would also include a satellite site at Hartpury University.

The third part of the bid centres around regeneration in Cinderford town centre including bringing vacant buildings back into productive use.

Forest of Dean District Council leader Tim Gwilliam said: "If successful this bid will improve education opportunities, provide improved leisure and sporting facilities and help grow our local economy.

"We are working as hard as possible to develop the best bid we can and the ideas we have are hugely exciting for the area.

"It's brilliant to see different organisations coming together for the benefit of our community and we will do all we can to put our case forward for this funding which would be a huge boost for the future of the Forest of Dean."

A project team will develop the bid ahead of the submission date of June 18 with details of what will be included agreed in the next few weeks.

A key focus of the bid will be on bringing forward the regeneration of empty buildings to provide facilities and services that meet the needs of local people as well as delivering new developments which offer modern space for learning and leisure.

The bid has been supported by Forest of Dean's MP Mark Harper MP who said: "This process is a valuable opportunity to build upon the investment we have seen in the Forest of Dean in recent years - from the state of the art Gloucestershire College campus in Cinderford, that I worked hard to get the money for, to Hartpury's Agri-Tech initiative and Cinderford's AccXel Construction Skills Accelerator Centre due to open soon.

"This is a great opportunity to increase skills, jobs and opportunities for everyone in the Forest of Dean whilst delivering on our commitments to reduce our impact on the environment."

Hartpury University and Hartpury College vice-chancellor Russell Marchant said it is vital to deliver improved services and opportunities for young people as we emerge from the pandemic.

He said: " This bid is about a positive future for the Forest.

"Hartpury's proposed University Innovation, Careers and Enterprise Learning Centre will create a significant number of jobs and will help supercharge post 16 higher education attainment in the Forest of Dean.

"What's particularly exciting is how we will directly work with the Five Acres leisure development helping to deliver a pathway for young people to reach their potential."

Cinderford Town Council chair Councillor Chris Witham said: "This is an excellent step forward that builds on our Future High Street Fund bid from last year.

"Connecting with Five Acres and Hartpury will further develop our plans to create a vibrant hub that supports communities across the Forest of Dean."

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