Shared Prosperity Fund Priority 1 – Communities & Place
The Government has 3 investment priorities of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which relate to 7 of the 12 Government Levelling up Missions. These are the priorities that Local Government Agencies must take into account when planning for the future of their Towns and Cities.
Pride in place is key – are people satisfied with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community? Will the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) have narrowed between its highest and lowest within the local areas? Will homicide, serious violence, and neighbourhood crime have fallen?
To address this, Local Government must engage with outside agencies who have the vision, knowledge and experience to help drive Pride in Place. They need to come up with an achievable investment plan with outcomes that can be monitored and measured, which are sustainable and beneficial to the local community. Outcomes like improved Wellbeing & Healthy Lifestyles. A reduction in crime – less homicides & serious crimes and less neighbourhood crime. Excellent places can also help all our mental health. We would recommend the following BBC podcast by Dr Layla McCay (Director of the Centre of Urban Design and Mental Health) https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0019b7g which examines the links between place and mental health. It’s a stunning analysis of how place influences our lives and wellbeing.
There must be a co-ordinated strategic plan of delivery which, can be applied once funding is in place, to ease the implementation and this must all fall within an accurate and realistic budget.
Each area must set out the capital expenditure it is to use year by year for the 3-year period the fund is in place. The budgets must be detailed, and knowledge of grant funding will surely assist any Local Authority in its understanding of the best projects for attaining the best outcomes and meeting the parameters of the SPF.
So how best to service this first priority? – Finding the right developer, with experience, knowledge, ethics and a track record of town centre development is key. Organisations like the Whatif Group, who are well prepared to deliver on the outputs and outcomes, who understand the Local Government way of working and thinking and have vision and experience when it comes to creating inclusive, sustainable town centres through cohesive working with external agencies from all sectors. Their approach to Public and Private sector Partnerships (PPP) and Place First Economics (PFE) addresses this priority and the Levelling Up missions.
For example, the Whatif Group have been working with Peel Land & Property to develop a strategy for transformation of Quayside (formerly Lowry Outlet) away from pure Outlet, to something more in tune with its status as part of an emerging Town Centre and ensuring it fits at the heart of the growing MediaCity and Salford Quays. Their aligned views and values enable them to put social impact and communities at the heart of the strategy. This in turn creates a better place to live, work & play.
The outputs can be measured in jobs created, the increase in small start-up entrepreneurial businesses, how safe people feel living and working in the area, the involvement of the community.