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£100m of good news for Ashfield

Posted onPosted on 11th Jun

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real and long lasting change in Ashfield is how a total investment of more than £100m over the next five years has been described.

Kirkby and Sutton have been awarded £62.6m from the government’s Towns Fund ­— the largest award in the country — and money from the Towns Fund Accelerator Fund and the Future High Streets Fund take the total to more than £70m for Ashfield.

Together with co-funding, this will bring well over £100m of investment into the district over the next five years.

The investment will bring jobs and further education opportunities, long-term economic and productivity growth, new homes, improved transport infrastructure, reduced carbon and new cultural and visitor facilities.

This will include a new Planetarium and Science Discovery Centre at Sherwood Observatory, Sutton, and a new leisure facility at King’s Mill Reservoir, Sutton.

Coun Matthew Relf, cabinet member for Place, Planning and Regeneration, said: “This is fantastic news for Sutton, Kirkby, the whole of Ashfield and the wider region.

“I am very proud of the ambitious bid that we put together and this funding provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to make a real and long lasting change in the area.”

In autumn 2019 Sutton and Kirkby were selected to receive Towns Fund funding of up to £25m each. Since then, Ashfield District Council and the Discover Ashfield Board have been working closely with stakeholders, including business, education, health, transport, and councillors to develop the Kirkby and Sutton Town Investment Plan.

Coun Relf added: “I would like to thank all our partners from the Discover Ashfield Board, Lee Anderson MP, council officers and the brilliant residents of Ashfield, who engaged with us in their hundreds to feedback to us on projects and to support the bid.”

Martin Rigley, chair of the Discover Ashfield Board, said: “The Towns Fund announcement is brilliant news for Ashfield. We have exciting plans that will benefit the area as a whole and help to make the district a fantastic place to live, work, study and visit.”

The investment plan focuses on four areas:

Business and education
The centrepiece of the plan is an Automated Distribution and Manufacturing Centre to create a national centre of excellence focused on promoting and providing access to the latest technologies and best practice in automated distribution.
Two new education centres will provide opportunities for qualifications in construction and civil engineering. At Kirkby and Sutton libraries there will be new innovation centres, which will support residents with digital skills, helping them access digital services, learn new skills and adapt to new ways of working.

Health and wellbeing
A new Kirkby Health Hub and Sports Hubs at Kingsway Park, Kirkby, and Sutton Lawn will give residents greater access to healthier lifestyles and help improve local health outcomes.

Boost visitor economy
A new Planetarium and Science Discovery Centre at Sherwood Observatory, Sutton, is planned to help inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.
A new leisure facility at King’s Mill Reservoir, Sutton, will offer a range of new water sports attractions for visitors. A network of cycling and walking routes across the area will connect visitor attractions, homes and places of work.

Make Ashfield Greener
The gateway area around Kirkby train station will be developed to provide better access to the station and interchange to buses and the new cycle/walking network. There will be a programme to fit existing buildings with solar and other green energy sources.

Several projects are already under way using the £1.5m from the Accelerated Towns Fund funding, including a new Kirkby indoor market, off-road cycle path improvements between Sherwood Business Park, Annesley, and Kirkby; a new play area at Hornbeam Park, Kirkby; and the creation of a centre of excellence in sport and theatre for disabled people at Portland College.

Sutton received £6.27m funding from the Future High Streets fund, which will be used to help regenerate parts of Sutton town centre, including renovating Sutton Community Academy theatre to create a new cinema, live music and theatre space with café and bar, all open to the public; refurbishing and repurposing empty shop units on Low Street; and developing derelict land behind Lloyds Bank on Fox Street to provide better access between Asda and Portland Square, additional car parking and a place for pop-up events and food markets.

A Maker Space and shared workspace will offer access to tools ­— such as wood and metal working tools, sewing machines, 3D printers and laser cutters — and workspaces, including offices for businesses to rent.

Coun Jason Zadrozny, leader of Ashfield District Council, said: “I am over the moon that Ashfield has received this funding. We are at the beginning of an exciting programme of projects that will deliver jobs, new homes, improved health service and visitor attractions.

“As well as the exciting plans in place for Sutton and Kirkby, we will continue to work with the Discover Ashfield Board. We want to ensure that the whole district benefits from new facilities and services and we are ready to take advantage of funding opportunities as they emerge.”