Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, was in Mansfield today (Thursday 18 May).
Mr Gove came to Mansfield to hear directly from local leaders about their ambitions to transform the town’s former Beales building into 'Mansfield Connect'.
The visit follows an announcement in January, which saw Mansfield District Council successful in its bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for £20m to regenerate the site.
The ring-fenced funding will see the old retail building in the town centre revitalised into a multi-agency hub – Mansfield Connect - that will house key partners in the district and become a one-stop shop for residents to access key services.
Following the whistle-stop tour around the future hub, the minister then held a working lunch with council representatives, the Mayor and local stakeholders, including Mansfield BID and the Place Board, to discuss the challenges and opportunities through the forthcoming Levelling Up Partnership.
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, said: "One of the reasons I'm here today is to see how the Levelling Up Funding, the £20m secured to transform the Beales building site, is being spent.
"Levelling Up means giving a town like Mansfield, which has a great heritage and a town in which its residents take enormous pride, it's giving it a vote of confidence from the central Government. It's giving it the extra cash required in order to attract high-paying jobs. One of the challenges we have got in this country is that in the past previous Government's have tended to put their investment in London and the South East; we want to make sure the East Midlands plays its full part in the economic life of the country.
"Today's visit confirms that the £20m we're spending will help transform this site and give the town centre that hub that it needs. New jobs, new investment from the public and private sector."
The Mansfield Connect scheme forms a vital part of the council’s ambitious long-term town centre regeneration plans, and it is hoped the repurposing of the building will then have a knock-on effect, stimulating our local economy and encouraging private-sector investment into the wider Mansfield district.
Executive Mayor of Mansfield, Andy Abrahams, said: “Today gave us the opportunity to highlight our vision and aspirations for the heart of our town centre in Mansfield, as well as the economic challenges we face too.
“We are unable to bring about regeneration change alone. We need funding, support and partnerships to make the very most of the opportunities afforded to us through initiatives such as the Towns Fund and Levelling Up Fund to help further encourage inward private investment to Mansfield.”
Upon leaving Mansfield, the Secretary of State then went on to visit Infinity Park in Derby to discuss the upcoming devolution deal for the region and the possibility of Investment Zones.
The major investment from the Levelling Up Fund announced by Government in the New Year follows the allocation of £1.7 billion to 105 projects from round one of the Levelling Up Fund in 2021– taking the total allocated so far from the fund to £3.8 billion.
A total of 111 areas have been awarded funding from the second of the government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund, providing greater investment in communities that will create new jobs, drive economic growth, help restore people’s pride in their places, and spread opportunity more equally.