After over a decade of delays, a rundown shopping street in South Bristol has been awarded over £14.5m for regeneration as part of the government’s second round of awards from its Levelling Up fund. In total, the government is awarding £2.1 billion to 111 community projects across the UK, with £672 million allocated to develop better transport links, £821 million for community regeneration, and £594 million to restore local heritage sites.
Filwood Broadway, Knowle West’s main shopping centre, has been earmarked for a vast regeneration project since at least 2012. In response to news that the bid had been successful, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said in a tweet that the project “will deliver more new homes and community and business space in the heart of Knowle West as we continue investing in the future of Bristol’s high streets”.
The government’s Levelling Up map shows that the project, listed as being part of the transport fund, has been allocated a total of £14,536,470 to “transform the neglected Filwood Broadway into a social, economic, cultural heart for South Bristol, serving communities in the most deprived 1.5% in England”.
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In a statement about the nationwide grants announcement, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are firing the starting gun on more than a hundred transformational projects in every corner of the UK that will revitalise communities that have historically been overlooked but are bursting with potential. This new funding will create jobs, drive economic growth, and help to restore local pride. “
Action being taken in Filwood Broadway is set to include developing derelict land into “high-quality housing, community, and commercial space” and “re-vitalising” the high street and public areas. Filwood Community Centre is set to receive investment “as a dynamic cultural hub” while outdoor spaces for sports and play are also due to be restored.
It comes just as the council approved plans for 30 homes on the site of the old Filwood Broadway cinema despite anger from residents. Bristol city councillors approved the regeneration despite claims that the local authority has “lied, cheated, conspired to pull this building down”.
It’s claimed the wider regeneration project funded by the government will “take a holistic approach, working closely with local communities and stakeholders and building connections to wider levelling up”. When the funding proposal was submitted in June, it was planned that if successful, the government would pay £12 million towards the project, and the council would chip in £1.2 million.
During a cabinet meeting at the time, Marvin Rees said: “Filwood Broadway is within the top 1.5% most deprived areas in England. The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits is 60% higher in Filwood than in Bristol on average.
“Only 66.7% of local residents were satisfied with their local area. We hope this investment will support an important local high street to flourish after the pandemic.”
At the same meeting, residents and councillors raised concerns about the regeneration masterplan being a decade old and the council being “extremely dismissive” of local views in recent consultations. Some residents called for new plans to be set out, with fresh consultations.
Michelle Tedder of the Filwood Broadway working group previously raised concerns about a “piecemeal approach” while Labour councillor Zoe Goodman, representing Filwood, agreed that “things have changed in the past decade”.
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