Almost 300 community projects boosted by multi-million pound HS2 fund

Almost 300 community projects boosted by multi-million pound HS2 fund

More than £16 million has been invested in community and business projects bordering HS2’s route, helping to drive the local economy, enhance the environment and boost wellbeing.

New figures show that £2.56m was allocated via the HS2 community and business funds programme over the last 12 months – taking the total above £16m since they were launched seven years ago.

The investment has been made in 285 separate projects to date, including upgrades to community buildings, improved sporting and play facilities, activities for young people, wildlife enhancements and the creation of community gardens.

The total has been swelled by a further £55m-worth of matched funding, including volunteer time and cash resources, underlining the extent to which the funds act as a catalyst to drive community projects.

The latest figures were revealed in an annual report published by Groundwork UK, independent administrators of the funds, on behalf of HS2 Ltd.

According to the report, funding over the last 12 months has been concentrated on “priority” geographical areas to ensure that all communities along the line of route receive a fair share of the funding.

The report sets out how investments will further pivot over the coming year, with funds continuing to be concentrated on priority areas as well as schemes that support local economies and deliver environmental and biodiversity enhancements. 

Two funding streams – the Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF) – were launched in 2017 to aid communities affected by construction of the new high-speed line. This is over and above other statutory compensation to individuals, businesses and local economies facing direct disruption as a result of Britain’s biggest infrastructure programme.

In the last year, 49 awards have been made in total, including:

  • £75,000 to the British Wheelchair Sports Foundation to support the replacement of an aging sports hall floor at the group’s Stoke Mandeville Stadium base in Buckinghamshire – the birthplace of the Paralympic movement – allowing it to be used by multiple groups including those playing wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, badminton and netball for the over 50s.
  • A further £75,000 to the Talisman Theatre and Arts Centre in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, allowing the long-running arts and cultural facility to build a new fringe stage as well as improved bar and reception area, helping to futureproof the valuable community space.
  • £75,000 for urgent masonry repairs and restoration work at Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire, the only medieval English three-spired cathedral, contributing to the essential renovation of the treasured landmark which also supports community initiatives such as a foodbank and providing overnight accommodation for rough sleepers.
  • £74,855 to redevelop a disused annex building on the site of Kenmont Primary School in Hammersmith and Fulham, west London, transforming it into a local hub for community groups, hosting a range of social, educational and health activities.
  • £41,964 for the Bengali Workers’ Association near London’s Euston station, delivering a weekly “older people’s project” to support isolated residents aged 50 and over in the local community.

Cathy Elliott, Independent Chair of the HS2 funds, said: “We’re delighted to report that support for communities along HS2’s route has now exceeded £16m, with some outstanding examples of the tangible benefits enjoyed by locally-led projects.

“In the last year we have invested in vital schemes to improve local people’s health and wellbeing, support children and young people, enhance the environment, and improve buildings and facilities – bringing communities together across rural and urban areas.”

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK Chief Executive, said: “During a turbulent year for the HS2 project, it’s fantastic that communities have been provided with continuous and stable support through the funds, which are ensuring a rich variety of community assets and activities are being created for those effected by the works.”

A £40m funding pot was created when the schemes were launched, covering Phase One from London to the West Midlands. The investment will cover the entire construction timeline of HS2, which is expected to start operating between 2029 and 2033.

In addition, a further £5m of funding was made available for Phase 2a between the West Midlands and Crewe when this part of the line was approved by Parliament in early 2021. This closed to applications in November last year following the government decision to cancel the northern legs of HS2.   Please visit the funds’ website for more information – including how to apply for funding – here:

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