Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps her Department is taking to support (a) Ilfracombe and (b) other coastal communities.
As an island nation, the Government is committed to supporting coastal communities and levelling-up across the Union. We are working with local leaders to ensure every region including coastal areas, cities and towns will recover from COVID-19 and ultimately level-up.
I am pleased that Ilfracombe is benefitting from a share of the £35.4 million Getting Building Fund investment across the Heart of the South West to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs. This includes one project in the North Devon constituency: Ilfracombe Water Sports Centre, which is set to receive £1.5 million for the construction of a water sports centre and associated infrastructure on a brownfield site within Ilfracombe Harbour. The project aims to regenerate the harbour, improve and increase tourism, provide up to 101 direct and indirect jobs and support up to 300 local businesses. The centre will also provide training and events facilities.
The Heart of the South West LEP was also allocated £197.8 million from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) between 2015 and 2021. Recent LGF projects in North Devon include the North Devon Innovation Centre in Roundswell and Connecting Devon and Somerset to extend superfast broadband provision.
Officials will shortly be in contact with North Devon Council to discuss their unsuccessful Levelling Up Fund bid for Ilfracombe and to offer feedback to support future bids.
We have continued to make significant progress in supporting coastal communities in a number of areas, demonstrated by the Coastal Communities Fund now having supported 359 projects, totalling over £229 million since 2012. North Devon Council received £1.5 million in 2019 for the new swimming pool at the North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple.
Our coastal economies and communities add unique value to the country and offer significant growth potential. Our commitment to unlocking this growth was demonstrated at Budget 2021, where the Chancellor announced 8 Freeports from 8 regions of England, 7 of them in coastal areas. Freeports will be national hubs for international trade, innovation and commerce, regenerating communities across the UK; attracting new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities across the country including in coastal areas.