Team effort secures £20 million Levelling Up Fund for the Forest of Dean

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Hartpury University and Hartpury College teamed up with the Forest of Dean District Council, Cinderford Town Council and Mark Harper MP to successfully secure £20 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The grant will be used to introduce new health, enterprise and aspiration opportunities. The fund will also help to repurpose vacant buildings, develop leisure facilities and help to grow the local economy across the Forest.

As a direct result of the Levelling Up Fund, the Five Acres site will be redeveloped as a leisure destination with a centre for sporting excellence and satellite site for Hartpury University and Hartpury College. Part of a new ‘Aspiration Academy’ initiative, the facility will target pockets of deprivation and encourage a pathway to further and higher education through careers support and advice, inspirational speakers and an event programme, alongside sports coaching and work experience opportunities.

A new University Innovation, Careers and Enterprise Learning Centre will also be built at Hartpury.

In addition, the funding will be used to help regenerate Cinderford Town Centre, including bringing vacant buildings back into productive use including coworking enterprise space. It is believed such regeneration will act as a catalyst for further investment with the aim of increasing footfall, jobs and opportunities locally.

Stuart Emmerson, Director of Business Development at Hartpury, said “This was the Forest of Dean at its best, working in partnership to deliver a successful game changing bid. From Mark Harper MP who personally made the bid’s case to senior ministers, to the Forest of Dean Council led by Cllr Tim Gwilliam who pulled together partners to produce an impactful, innovative and collaborative bid with Cinderford Town Council and Hartpury University and Hartpury College. Support from our outstanding GFirst LEP was also greatly appreciated.”

“This grant will fund a comprehensive plan to generate opportunities for the people of the Forest, both young and old, and help to make our region an even greater place to live, study, work and play,” he added.

Forest of Dean Council leader Tim Gwilliam said: “This funding will be able to make a real difference to our community.

“We want to continually be improving the Forest of Dean district and helping to raise aspirations and this investment will play a key role. I said many times during the bid process that this was potentially game-changing for our region and now it will be a reality,” he added.

Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper said that he was “delighted” with the “huge achievement”.

“I would like to pay tribute to the partners involved in assembling this bid, particularly the team at Hartpury who bought their characteristically professional focus to the project.

“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.”

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