Date Published: 12 August 2022
Rutland County Council and Melton Borough Council have joined hands to submit a joint bid for the second round of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which if successful could see a £23m injection to help boost the economy of the local towns and improve connectivity between them and our more rural areas.
Oakham and Melton Mowbray are rural, historic market towns with huge potential for growth. The submission focusses on realising the economic potential of both areas through leveraging our distinctive local assets and delivering 5 key projects which will focus on economic innovation, cultural destination and mobility.
At the heart of Rutland’s vision is the proposal to maximise the potential of the health sector and improve the area’s mobility by the development of a new digital innovation facility and Mobi-Hub at the Rutland Memorial Hospital site, as well as supporting the economic regeneration of the area by the introduction of a mobile, digital visitor experience at Rutland County Museum.
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 would build on the well-established understanding at Health Education England (now a core part of NHSE&I), 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 would 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 proposals to the Rutland Memorial Hospital site could also see the implementation of 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 would focus on two routes, which have been developed through evidence led analysis, with further refinement to be completed. This service would enable people to access work, learning and services more fully across the two market towns
Rutland’s proposals also include a £2m investment to Rutland County Museum, which would see 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 these proposals aim to create the virtual models, storage and touring facilities to enable the finds to be showcased in Oakham and across the region. It will also form the basis for co-funding with the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) delivery new gallery spaces and visitor facilities on the existing Museum site, transforming the visitor offer.
Also, if successful in the bid, Melton Borough Council propose to develop over 2500sqm of flexible food and drink production units within the Stockyard, creating a food and drink innovation showcase alongside a multifunctional event space which could host exciting events and activities throughout the year. The site will include a support service to help small or upcoming local producers develop and grow in the Rural Capital of Food.
In addition, the funding would 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.
The bid will also look to improve the SMB College Group’s Melton campus theatre. These upgrades will make the space more accessible, ensuring 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.
Councillor Lucy Stephenson, Leader of Rutland County Council, said:
"We are pleased to be working alongside Melton Borough Council on the Levelling Up bid. This bid focusses on key priorities for us in Rutland. If successful we will see real benefits to our residents, businesses and visitors by reducing health inequalities, increasing highly skilled job opportunities, improving mobility throughout the area, increasing access to cultural offers and much more."
Councillor Joe Orson, Leader of Melton Borough Council, said:
"Through building closer links between the two regions and developing the proposals on offer we can help make these two rural regions on the East Midlands, vibrant hubs for tourism and innovation."
Alicia Kearns, MP for Melton and Rutland Constituency, has been supportive and involved throughout the bid process and said:
"This fantastic bid sees Rutland and Melton make the case that we can be rural powerhouses. The proposals would deliver on the aspirations and priorities of our local communities around health, transport, job opportunities and celebrating our unique heritage and culture and help level up our rural way of life."