£23m of funding has been awarded to Rutland County Council and Melton Borough Council to help boost the local economy and improve connectivity following a successful joint bid for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Oakham and Melton Mowbray are historic market towns with huge potential for economic growth. This funding will focus on realising the economic potential of both areas by supporting five key projects focusing on economic innovation, cultural destinations, health science and mobility.
At the heart of Rutland’s vision is to maximise the potential of the health sector and improve the area’s mobility through the development of a new digital innovation facility and Mobi-Hub at the Rutland Memorial Hospital site.
The Council will also use the funding to support the economic regeneration of the area by the introduction of a mobile, digital visitor experience that makes the most of Rutland’s unique cultural assets.
The Rutland Memorial Hospital site proposals accommodate a £3.5m, 1000m2 facility, providing lab and light assembly space for the development of medi-tech level clinical trials, a Continuous Professional Development centre for clinicians working in the area and a training base for students involved in relevant disciplines at the local universities, including medical schools and schools of nursing.
This investment will build on the well-established understanding at Health Education England (now a core part of NHS England and Improvement), that the antidote to the skills shortages, at the heart of rural health inequalities, lies in the development and training of people in rural settings themselves.
The facility will also be a community health related hub, including a café and housing health trainers and potentially care workers developing their business on a self-employed basis.
Further funding will be used at the Rutland Memorial Hospital site as the County Council plan to implement a £6.5m, 500m2 travel anchor Mobi-Hub. The Mobi-Hub will be supported by a Demand Responsive Transport system based on the Bus Service Investment Plan approach developed by Rutland Council and extended to cover the Melton Borough area linking the overall package of Levelling Up investments. It will focus on two routes, which have been developed through evidence led analysis, with further refinement to be completed. This service aims to enable people to access work, learning and services more fully across the two market towns
Rutland will also use the funding to include a £2m investment in the creation of a mobile, digital visitor experience to view two of the area’s unique heritage treasures - the largest Ichthyosaur fossil in Europe and the remains of a stunning 4th Century Roman Villa with an exceptional mosaic. Neither of these assets can currently be displayed easily to the public directly, however this funding will enable the council to create the virtual models, storage and touring facilities to enable the finds to be showcased.
“We are delighted that our joint bid was successful and that we’ve been awarded this funding to invest in Rutland and Melton. This money will help us to support key priorities around reducing health inequality, increasing highly skilled job opportunities, improving transport and connectivity in our area and enhancing access to the county’s unique cultural attractions.”
Lucy Stephenson, Leader of Rutland County Council
Melton Borough Council will use the funding to develop over 2500sqm of flexible food and drink production units, creating a food and drink innovation showcase in the heart of Melton Mowbray. The Stockyard will also include a support service to help small or upcoming local producers develop and grow in the Rural Capital of Food.
In addition, the funding will be used to deliver a multifunctional event space at the stockyard which could host exciting events and activities throughout the year, bringing additional footfall and attracting repeat visitors to the area.
Complementing this activity, £2m of improvements will be made to the theatre on SMB groups Melton campus. These improvements and upgrades will make the space more accessible and ensure it is able to secure and attract larger scale commercial events more often to provide a regular calendar of activity that will, alongside the stockyard, support the town centre and its burgeoning evening economy.
“This is absolutely fantastic news for Melton and alongside the pre-Christmas announcement on the relief road, will provide a massive boost to the economy and regeneration of our borough.
“The delivery of these projects will enhance our reputation as the Rural Capital of Food, providing economic opportunities and support for established business and start up producers. Moreover, the creation of an event space at the Stockyard and investment into the theatre will together enrich our cultural offer and events, which will support the town centre and its expanding evening economy.
“I’m excited we can now start working with our partners on this long term project to ensure the proposals set out in the bid are delivered to our community as soon as possible.”
Joe Orson, Leader of Melton Borough Council
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, has been supportive of, and involved, throughout the bid process.
“I am absolutely delighted that Rutland and Melton’s Joint Levelling Up Bid has been successful! This is the most fantastic news and will change the future of so many of our communities. I have worked hard alongside Councillor Joe Orson and Councillor Lucy Stephenson to promote our wonderful Levelling Up Bid focused on rural innovation and I am just so pleased that our work has paid off. Rurality should never serve as a barrier to our thriving communities, and this funding will be truly transformative in promoting our local culture, health and transport infrastructure. Thank you to everyone involved and I look forward to seeing our plans become a reality!”
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton