Stroud council chiefs say £16m levelling up funding will regenerate ‘grotty’ town

Civic leaders have backed a £15.9m bid for levelling up funding which will help regenerate “grotty Stroud”. Councillors yesterday (June 9) unanimously backed Stroud District Council’s second round bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

The council’s bid totals £15.9m and if successful will lead to investment in rejuvenating gateway spaces, cultural landmarks and improving access for pedestrians and cyclists in Stroud. Several councillors raised concerns over the Stroud-centric nature of the proposals.

But council leaders said there would be more opportunities for subsequent bids for projects elsewhere in the district. Council leader Doina Cornell (L, Dursley) told the strategy and resources committee that improvements for Stroud would benefit the wider area.

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She said: “It’s worth saying Stroud is the main town of the district and when I go around all the town centres I really think it’s the one in most need of regeneration. Frankly, it’s actually a bit of an embarrassment.

“If you have a visitor who walks out of the train station, it really is quite a let down to think Stroud is supposed to be one of the best places to live in the country and you think, actually, this looks really grotty.

“It will benefit all of the district to have a much better centre that you arrive in. Whether you are a local resident or a visitor. I do think Stroud really does need it and I hope it goes forward and is successful.”

Deputy council leader Catherine Braun (G, Wotton-under-Edge) said the focus on the gateways, cultural landmarks and connections will help benefit the wider district. She also said it was developed in partnership with businesses and community groups.

She said: “As well as improving neglected spaces and derelict areas, providing ramped access to improve access to some important landmarks, it is also going to be making a lot of unloved spaces more beautiful. It’s going to be delivering renewable energy for the incubator office units, tree planting to provide clean air and improved biodiversity with wildflowers, providing sustainable drainage and active travel as well to make Stroud a more pleasant place to walk and travel.”

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Cllr Chris Brine (L, Stonehouse) said he would support the bid and criticised the deadlines set out by the Government which almost excluded parish councils from putting forward schemes for funding. He said: “I’m going to support it for the reasons that it will bring money into the district and hopefully we can deliver some of these projects.

“Stroud is our main market town. Connectivity out of Stroud to our towns and parishes will benefit from this bid, we will put more housing in Stroud where it’s needed and we’ll improve the shopping experience for people.”

The projects included in the funding bid are set out below:

Project 1 – Gateway spaces

Wallbridge green space : The transformation of this canalside public realm into a welcoming green space to provide a strong sense of arrival to the town, to welcome people, to be a space for picnics, festivals and events and an attractive place for people to walk, cycle and travel by boat through. Bid: £2,244,000. Delivery partner: SDC.

The Sub Rooms Town Square : For decades the space outside the Subscription Rooms has played an important part in Stroud town life. This project is to transform the space into a true “Town Square” to be used and enjoyed by all. Bid: £595,257. Delivery partner: Stroud Town Council.

Incubator units: The creation of 12 new small, start up, energy efficient office units in the town centre, with support from SGS college and Growth Hub. Bid: £2,750,000. Delivery partner: Dransfield Properties Ltd on behalf of its subsidiary Stroud Regeneration Ltd.

Purchase of brownfield land and associated costs: For the development of homes in the town centre on a strategically important site. Bid: £1,535,000.

Subscription Rooms will be sold to Stroud Town Council by the district council for £1, and will be run as a community-owned venue
Stroud Subscription Rooms

Project 2 – Cultural landmarks

Lansdown Hall: Ramped access and internal improvements to make this heritage arts venue accessible for all. Bid: £500,000. Delivery partner: STC.

The Sub Rooms: Ramped access and internal improvement to make this heritage arts venue accessible for all. Bid: £119,822 Delivery partner: STC.

Brunel Goods Shed – The purchase, ramped access and internal improvements to make this heritage arts venue accessible for all. Bid: £1,200,000. Delivery partner: SVA.

Project 3 – Connections

Improved pedestrian and cycle routes: This is around Wallbridge surrounding streets, underpass under Dr Newtons Way and up Rowcroft. Bid: £2,900,000. Delivery partner: Gloucestershire County Council.

Improvements to the end of the Nailsworth to Stroud cycle route at Bath Road, Rodborough: To make it safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians and to link it through to the improvements around Wallbridge. Bid: £1,000,000. Delivery partner: GCC

Improvements for cyclists and pedestrians: This is around the town centre at the Sub Rooms/ George Street triangle and light touch around the town centre, London Road,Russell Street and Station Street. Bid: £3,000,000. Delivery partner: GCC.

Real Time Passenger Informationat Stroud Railway Station and Merrywalks Bus Station: These would ‘link’ both locations so the travelling public would have travel information for onward journeys. Bid: £30,000. Delivery partner: GCC.

Brunel Mall : Opening up the car park to the station to add additional station car parking and reducing the traffic in the town centre, which will then enable the wider master planning of the station to take place. Bid: £50,000. Delivery partner: SDC.

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