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Herne Bay to miss out on Levelling Up funds as government changes means bid cannot be submitted

Dreams of a multi-million-pound transformation of a town’s seafront have been snubbed in an “incredibly disappointing” move.

Changes to a government programme mean Herne Bay will lose out on the chance to secure £13 million from the Levelling-Up Fund.

Herne Bay has missed out on millions of pounds in levelling-up funding
Herne Bay has missed out on millions of pounds in levelling-up funding

Last summer Canterbury City Council (CCC) submitted bids through the regeneration scheme, asking for £19.9 million for Canterbury and £13 million for Herne Bay.

The city’s bid was awarded in January as part of round two of the Levelling-Up Fund, and will pay for a pedestrianised zone near Westgate Towers and reopening Canterbury Castle, among other projects.

However, the plans to “transform Herne Bay’s seafront” - the official title of the council’s £128,000 application - have been rejected in round three.

Cabinet member Cllr Chris Cornell (Lab) told a cabinet meeting on Monday: “Just 24 hours before the Autumn Statement was the news the Levelling-Up Fund round three has not opened for decisions and essentially the funds have been allocated to people who were unsuccessful in round two.

“Which means the decision we made to put some money aside for a new bid for Herne Bay is essentially not going to come off.”

The changes for the latest round of the project awarded funding to “high-quality” bids that lost out on money in the previous round.

Cllr Alan Baldock
Cllr Alan Baldock

One Kent bid - for the regeneration of St George’s Square in Gravesend - was successful this time around, and awarded £20 million.

Cllr Cornell added: “That doesn’t stop our administration’s commitment to Herne Bay and trying to come up with a plan for its regeneration.

“I’m holding some meetings this week with a variety of local stakeholders and I think in the new year we’ll look to create a small officer group to find out if the Levelling-Up isn’t the vehicle for which we can come up with a plan we need to identify a way in which we can do so.”

Council leader Cllr Alan Baldock (Lab) added: “That was incredibly disappointing and I think caught us all on the hop a bit.”

The council had originally set aside £40,000 to improve the bid and re-enter in round three, but as a result of the changes this money has not been spent.

‘It is really disappointing and frustrating Herne Bay missed out...’

Under the proposals for Herne Bay, King’s Hall was set to become a “landmark music centre” - with performance and professional recording space.

The central bandstand, “currently in a poor condition and partially closed” according to the council’s bid, would have been improved to host community and commercial events.

There were also plans for a cycle “highway” and walking route from Greenhill to the seafront, as well as new electric vehicle charging points and improved lighting in the area.

Conservative opposition group leader Cllr Rachel Carnac said: “It is really disappointing and frustrating Herne Bay missed out but the thing is that the bid is ready, so the work's been done.”

The Reculver representative argued the council should not give up on the project, and instead apply for investment for the same schemes from other government sources.

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