The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has appointed Arup to lead a multidisciplinary consortium to help local authorities across England access the £3.6bn Towns Fund.
The consortium brings together leading organisations across the professional services sector, including Copper Consultancy, Grant Thornton UK LLP, FutureGov, Nichols and Savills. The contract signed between the consortium and MHCLG is for an initial 12-month period and the project is valued at around £8m. Work on the project begins immediately.
A key part of the ‘levelling up’ agenda, ministers claim that the Towns Fund looks to support the regeneration of communities that have not benefited equally from UK growth, empowering 100 towns across the country to shape their own futures by granting them access to the necessary resources to plan and manage their public works projects.
Through the funding, it is claimed that local authorities will drive their long-term economic growth and productivity by targeted investment in transport, regeneration and town centres, supporting businesses and skills training. It is also described as an initiative to allow towns to strengthen their economic, social and environmental resilience, an objective that has taken on renewed importance as the UK plans its economic recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
To access the fund, local authorities will work alongside the consortium as they engage with their communities, public and private partners and investors to develop their own proposals for a ‘Town Deal’ to MHCLG.
Local authorities will be able to draw on the consortium’s decades of shared experience in regeneration, economic development, design, place-shaping, business case development and community engagement. They will also be able to access the consortium’s wide geographic distribution, best in-class technical expertise and management capabilities as they look to access a potential of up to £25m in funding each.
A key role of the consortium is the facilitation of communication between towns, regions and central government to share knowledge and open up a discourse around successful projects and strategies.
Leading the consortium’s delivery team, Joanna Rowelle, integrated city planning director at Arup, said: “These towns have a rich history, which we will work with them to build upon through this fund, capitalising on the many assets within each. Our geographic breadth and diverse resource capability mean that we can respond rapidly and effectively to the needs of this programme, as we bring together bespoke, first-class technical expertise across a range of services and known town priorities.
“It’s an honour for us to be part of a project of such vital importance to the country, with such transformative implications. We look forward to playing our part in helping these towns to unlock their full potential and secure their future prosperity.”