The Loughborough Town Deal is an exciting, once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring significant social and economic improvements for residents, communities and local businesses.
A Town Investment Plan outlining a range of projects has been drawn up that will seek to improve skills and boost job prospects, redefine the town centre to ensure it remains well-used and vibrant, improve the local environment and showcase the town's heritage.
The government invited Loughborough to submit a bid under the Town Deal scheme and a board was formed to lead the project.
The board involves a range of organisations, including Charnwood Borough Council, Loughborough University, Loughborough College, Love Loughborough, Leicestershire County Council, the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, Charnwood Together Economy and Skills Group, local businesses and Loughborough MP Jane Hunt.
Cllr Jonathan Morgan, board co-chair, said: "We are incredibly excited to launch the Loughborough Town Deal bid and it could not have come at a better time as we face significant challenges due to the pandemic.
"We need to make sure we build back better and create opportunities for young people and businesses and build on the wonderful assets we already have like the university and college, the town's heritage and Loughborough's ideal central location.
"I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in bringing the bid together and I would urge people to support it.
"This will not only bring short term improvements but also lay the foundations to make Loughborough an outstanding place to live, work and visit for many years to come."
Dr Nik Kotecha, board co-chair, said: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we have made a strong case to Government.
"Including match funding, the Town Deal has the potential to bring in £110 million of investment to Loughborough.
"We have thoroughly researched the issues and drawn upon partners to bring the bid together and at every step we have consulted and sought the opinions of residents, local business and other organisations. We have listened to what people have said and delivered a plan Loughborough can be proud of. I would urge people to get behind the bid."
The Loughborough Town Deal investment plan proposes a range of projects which will:
- improve skills levels to boost job prospects
- redefine the town centre to ensure it is well-used and vibrant for the future
- improve links between the east and west sides of town, from the railway station through to the town centre through to the university and science and enterprise park
- improve flood defences for the town
- reduce carbon emissions by encouraging use of electric vehicles
- unlock areas prime for development for housing, leisure and commercial use
- build on Loughborough University's reputation as a centre for innovation, research and sport
- showcase the town's unique heritage to attract more visitors to the area by supporting Taylor's Bell Foundry, Grand Central Railway and improving the canal environment
- improve job and life skills for 5,000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
The investment plan seeks to capitalise on Loughborough University's global reputation for sport and innovation and with the high-performing Loughborough College, weave these centres of learning more closely into the social and economic fabric of the town.
The Loughborough College Skills and Enterprise Hub in the town centre will be the first step in that direction and already the Towns Fund has awarded Loughborough Town Deal £750,000 to kickstart the joint-project with Charnwood Borough Council.
The Council has purchased the former Crawshaws Butchers building in Market Place where the hub will be located. The hub will offer guidance and support to people who want to boost their careers or get in to work. Loughborough University will also be involved by providing advice and mentoring to people wanting to start up their own businesses.
Jo Maher, Principal and CEO of Loughborough College, said: "We are extremely excited that our expert team will be based in the heart of town to help unlock the potential and career aspirations of local people in our community.
"We're proud to be working with our partners, including Loughborough University, to deliver this ambitious project as part of the Loughborough Town Deal. The Careers and Enterprise Hub perfectly positions the College to support the town's skills-led recovery from Covid-19.
"The Hub is just one part of our wider offer which also includes T-Levels from next September, award-winning apprenticeships and fantastic job placement opportunities, including the Kickstart Scheme. It is a really exciting time to be part of the Loughborough community."
The plan would also seek to rejuvenate the town centre and encourage more people to live there as well as shop there. Technology would be integral to a modern town centre with the ambition to have automated transport systems such as driverless vehicles.
And the town deal bid proposes to support flood defence schemes to reduce flood risk in the town.
Investment is also being sought for Taylor's Bell Foundry and Great Central Railway to increase visitor numbers and to improve the riverside along Grand Union Canal.
There is also a project to improve job and life skills for 5,000 young people with a focus upon supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities. The scheme will promote learning and a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Professor Tracy Bhamra, Loughborough University Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise), said: "The Town Deal represents a really exciting opportunity to enhance the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Loughborough and the University is looking forward to working with local partners to drive local growth and regeneration."
Jane Hunt, MP for Loughborough said: "The launch of the Town Deal is a hugely exciting time for Loughborough and there are some really positive developments on the horizon. One of those is the launch of the new skills and enterprise hub in the town centre which will really help people to access new training and development packages. I'd like to thank all local partners who have been involved; there has been a huge amount of hard work put in and I am looking forward to an exciting future for Loughborough."
For more information on the bid, including the projects and some frequently asked questions, please visit www.loughboroughtowndeal.co.uk.
The Bid has been submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in October 2020. It will be assessed before a decision is made, which is expected to be in 2021.
Keep up to date about the latest town deal news by following @Lborotowndeal on Twitter and if you have a view tweet and use the hashtag #lborotowndeal