The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has approved £4.4 million in funding for five East Sussex projects on the Getting Building Fund list, including the world’s first megawatt scale community solar farm to power the rail network, the renovation of innovation space for businesses post-COVID-19, and the conversion of an unused building in Lewes for SMEs in the creative space.
These five projects will create and safeguard 476 jobs, assist 346 learners, and unlock 3,628sq m in commercial space.
Regeneration projects to attract tourism and businesses to town centres, schemes to bolster the creative sector, and sustainability projects to bring an innovative use of solar power to the county are among the five that have received £4.4 million in funding from SELEP for East Sussex. Across the South East LEP patch, 25 GBF projects have been awarded £66.8 million total in funding.
These projects have been chosen for being shovel-ready and able to help get the local economy back on its feet after the ongoing effects of COVID-19. As the country deals with its second lockdown and the future of the UK business environment remains uncertain, these projects will help the industries that are particularly affected by the lockdown caused by COVID-19.
Earlier this year, the Government announced the £900 million Getting Building Fund, created to invest in local projects to drive economic growth. SELEP successfully secured the largest value for any LEP area in the UK from the fund, with its £85 million pot across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. The money is targeted at areas most affected by the pandemic as well as the sectors that will provide the most support to the economy in the near future by creating jobs, restoring and regenerating town centres and high streets, and attracting local investment.
The projects in East Sussex which have been awarded funding by the South East LEP comprise:
- Charleston’s access road: removing the barrier to growth: upgrading access to Charleston, an artists’ house and studio museum of international significance in the South Downs National Park;
- Creative Hub, 4 Fisher Street, Lewes: the conversion of an old building to a café and new business space for creative sector SMEs;
- Riding Sunbeams Solar Railways: creating the world’s first megawatt scale solar farm directly powering the direct current railways;
- Sussex Innovation Falmer – Covid Secure adaptions: the renovation of innovation space to make suitable for use post-COVID, helping to safeguard businesses and deliver new jobs; and
- UTC Maritime & Sustainable Technology Hub: the creation of an education-led skills training centre with commercial workspace for SMEs specialising in the marine sector, located in Lewes.
Three GBF projects in East Sussex have already been awarded £6.8 million in funding by SELEP at a previous Board meeting: the provision of modernised industrial space for manufacturers in Hastings (£3.5 million); the restoration of the Glory of the Winter Garden pavilion in Eastbourne (£1.6 million); and the restoration of a local landmark in Hastings including four floors of leisure, retail, offices, studios and community space (£1.7 million).
This brings the total value of GBF being invested across eight projects in East Sussex to £11.2 million. The full list of Getting Building Fund projects can be found here. These projects are set to deliver within 18 months and will all contribute to the Government’s Build Back Better initiative to help the recovery of the economy.
Chair of SELEP’s Team East Sussex federated board, Graham Peters said:
“These projects will create excellent opportunities for East Sussex’s business community, providing training facilities to upskill residents and new workspace for SMEs to grow. Our thriving and exciting creative sector will benefit from the regeneration of unused buildings into innovative workspace in Hastings and Lewes.
“We are proud to have been instrumental in bringing forward Riding Sunbeams Solar Railways, a truly innovative project to power the railway network with electricity from solar panels, which will be a great contributor to the government’s newly announced 10-point climate plan, and also demonstrates East Sussex’s commitment to cleaner, greener energy.”
South East LEP Chair Christian Brodie added:
“Our partners and local areas have worked hard to get this funding into the local economy, where it’s urgently needed. We are working in line with central government’s Build Back Better initiative and are confident that these projects will deliver jobs, housing and the best support for businesses. Investment in the South East extends to the rest of the country. When we thrive, the UK thrives.”