HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson MP has celebrated £10million worth of funding from the HS2 Community and Environment Funds being distributed whilst visiting projects in Warwickshire on Thursday [23rd September].
The HS2 Funds opened to applicants in 2017 and are made up by the Community and Environment fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF) available to local communities and businesses that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of Britain’s new high speed railway between London and the West Midlands.
The £10m of funding has been distributed across 172 projects located near the HS2 route. Since April this year, communities and businesses between the West Midlands and Crewe were also able to apply to the funds, which have a combined total of £45million.
Multiple community spaces have benefitted from the funds; with village halls, sports clubs and children’s play areas across the HS2 route being upgraded. The project that took the total funding awarded over the £10million mark was a £45,206 grant to Burton Dassett Parish Council in Stratford-upon-Avon to replace a multi-play unit within the children’s play area in Northend Village. The funding will be used install a new inclusive multi-play unit which will improve the experience of all children using the facilities and play outdoors. Children from the Dassett Church of England Primary School and Temple Herdewyke Primary School and Nursery provided drawings which inspired the design of the new play area.
HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson MP, said:
“These community and business funds are crucial in ensuring a positive legacy for those communities most affected by HS2 construction.
“I am delighted that we have now reached the £10 million mark on Phase One, and look forward to many more projects up and down the line benefitting in the same way as we maintain progress on HS2 and build back better from Covid-19.”
The HS2 Minister visited Northend Village to meet the Parish Council and see how the funding will be used.
Speaking about the award, Helen Hide-Wright, Clerk to Burton Dassett Parish Council said:
“When looking into installing a multiplay unit, I was inspired to look for Disability Discrimination Act compliant equipment by the son of a close friend, Ben Rogers. Ben was born with a brain tumour and wasn’t always able to join in play because of his physical needs. It was clear that there was a lack of provision, locally. Thankfully HS2 recognised the value of DDA play equipment and we are thrilled that a DDA compliant unit will be installed in Northend, Warwickshire for everyone to use!”
Other projects across the route that have been supported by the funds include a £250,000 award to the Warwick Arts Centre which was used towards a project to upgrade the existing cinema at the centre and relocate the Mead Gallery. BLEF awards have included £255,200 for a project in London to create a new Employment and Skills Hub around Old Oak Common, supporting West London businesses in difficult economic times and beyond and helping businesses recruit, retain and develop a local, skilled workforce. In Kenilworth, £74,500 is being used for the ‘Kenilworth is Open for Business’ project which will help local businesses adapt and thrive as HS2 is constructed.
Cathy Elliott, Independent Chair of the HS2 Funds, said:
“Four years since the Funds were opened to applications, I am delighted that we have been able to distribute £10 million. The positive impact of the Funds is now being felt by many communities near the HS2 route between London and the West Midlands, leaving a valued legacy despite disruption from HS2 construction. Since 2017 I have been encouraged and inspired by the variety of projects we have funded via voluntary, environmental and business organisations and partnerships.
“I look forward to many more projects being supported and to continue to support communities along the HS2 line of route.”
The construction of HS2 is now well underway and applications for the funds are still being welcomed. The Funds for Phase One, and Phase 2a are independently administered by community charity Groundwork UK, to support urban and rural, community, environmental and business projects.