Levelling Up Fund: Wealden bid for almost £20m

Wealden council has bid for almost £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund to help towards the cost of a new £43m health and wellbeing hub.

Wealden District Council (WDC) said last year it missed out on the first round of funding but hopes to secure a portion of the £4.8bn available to local authorities in the second round.

The council said it is applying for a grant of £19.8m to help towards the cost of the health and wellbeing hub as phase one of the Hailsham Aspires scheme to regenerate the town centre.

WDC said: “The plans encompass a new leisure centre - to replace the existing, ageing Freedom Leisure Centre – with a range of new facilities promoting physical activity for all, and a long-awaited new medical centre colocated with the leisure centre, and shared amenities supporting better health outcomes.

Wealden District Council

“The hub, which would be built on council-owned land near the current council offices, forms part of the wider vision for the regeneration of Hailsham town centre.

"This seeks to ensure Hailsham is fit for a future which will see both an ageing and a growing population, in addition to improving the overall health and wellbeing across the community.”

WDC said improving the vitality and attractiveness of the town centre will also be key to widening the employment offer and improving the quality of life for residents.

A council spokesperson added: “The project will unlock potential development sites by freeing up the land where the existing leisure centre is located, as well as two existing and one proposed GP surgery sites within the town.”

Councillor Philip Lunn, the council’s portfolio holder for commercial, economic development and leisure, said: “This round two bid to the Levelling Up Fund builds on our unsuccessful round one bid and proposes an immediately deliverable project on council-owned land that will deliver wide-ranging benefits and kick-start the wider regeneration of Hailsham town centre.

“It is a hugely exciting project and we hope the government will recognise this and we will be successful.”

The government’s Levelling up Fund brings together the Department for Transport, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to invest £4.8 billion in local infrastructure.