In 2021 the Government published its Levelling Up Fund (LUF) prospectus. To receive government investment and support bidding local authorities had to demonstrate that their proposals could be delivered by 2025, and that they were supported by the constituent MPs. The prospectus confirmed there would be a number of bidding rounds and Preston City Council engaged Radics Consulting to advice and support the development of their LUF proposals.
Having led on Preston’s successful Towns Fund programme, Radics had an in-depth knowledge of Preston’s pipeline of development projects and priorities, and our first step was to propose that the Council make a Round 2 LUF submission. This was agreed by the Council and in 2021 Radics, alongside economic consultants, developed a preferred project – Active Preston - of investment in parks and active travel infrastructure to create a more healthy, liveable, and sustainably connected city. Radics supported the Council officers in securing all party councillor support for the proposals which triggered the preparation of a full 5 case business case for the project.
Radics established a Project Working Group to oversee: Assessment of the project elements to demonstrate: fit with LUF criteria; advanced state of project readiness, deliverability and costings; stakeholder engagement and support for project; and application of the HM Treasury 5 Case business case approach. Radics took responsibility for preparing the commercial and management cases. The prospectus guidance was clear that Councils demonstrate a robust delivery model, and that only projects which could demonstrate completion by 2025 would be awarded grant offers. Radics led on the procurement strategy and use of an existing pan Lancashire property and regeneration partnership. This enabled the submission to confirm that there was a preferred delivery partner with the relevant civil engineering and contractor expertise in place. Radics also led the discussions with the County Council to: secure support for the project; to provide a financial contribution; and in principle agreement to deliver key aspects of the project.
525 Local authorities submitted LUF proposals in July 2022 and in January 2023 Preston was named as one of 111 successful places to receive the maximum allocation of £20m towards a £24m programme. Radics supported the Council in agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding with government and in March 2023, Active Preston became a live LUF project. Radics continues to work with the Council on the implementation of the LUF programme, with a focus on governance and troubleshooting.