Medway Council is set to receive a share of £85million to create an innovative adult learning and skills hub in Gillingham.
The project is just one of 34 which could receive funding from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) £85million share of the government’s £900million Getting Building Fund. SELEP successfully secured the largest allocation for any Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in the UK. The fund was created to invest in local infrastructure projects to drive economic growth following the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Medway Council has been allocated up to £1.99million to create the Learning Skills and Employment Hub on the vacant top floor of Britton Farm, a former shopping centre in Gillingham. The hub, which will be run by Medway Adult Education, will focus on supporting adults to retrain, upskill and access employment opportunities. Courses will be tailored towards helping residents gain skills for highly valued jobs which are being created across Medway.
The council is preparing a business case to submit to SELEP and is expecting to hear about the final funding award later this year.
The ground floor of Britton Farm is currently being converted into modern offices in partnership with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).
Medway Council’s own housing company, Medway Development Company (MDC), will build 44 affordable homes in the old loading bay at Britton Farm. In addition, MDC is also developing sites at Chatham Waterfront, Whiffens Avenue and White Road in Chatham.
Innovative adult learning and skills hub in the heart of Gillingham town centre
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “We are extremely pleased that Medway is set to receive up to £1.99million for an innovative adult learning and skills hub in the heart of Gillingham town centre. These exciting plans will provide growth for all and will help our residents learn new skills and access a wider range of employment opportunities. The skills hub complements our ongoing regeneration plans for Britton Farm providing offices and affordable homes in the town centre which will further increase footfall in the high street. We have all been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it is of the upmost importance that we continue to invest in Medway’s future.”
Helping our high streets thrive
Cllr Rodney Chambers, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Inward Investment, Strategic Regeneration and Partnerships, said: “We are committed to helping our high streets thrive and this project will benefit the local economy, businesses and, most importantly, our residents. This redevelopment project will enable residents to learn new skills and provide opportunities to retrain, for a changing work environment. Gillingham has a lot to offer including a diverse market, modern community hub and a regional centre of sporting excellence, Medway Park. Further investment will ensure that Medway becomes an even more desirable place to live, work, learn and visit.”
Dive forward our economy at this challenging time
South East LEP Chair, Christian Brodie said: “We are delighted that government has recognised the excellent projects and potential that the South East has to drive forward our economy at this challenging time. These projects have been carefully selected to target those areas and industries particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and those that can progress, at pace, to support economic recovery. The South East LEP has a proven track record of delivering successful projects and has been working really closely with our local areas to understand what our businesses need and where investment will have significant impact.
“Over the last few months, we as a LEP have been providing support to local businesses. Our Growth Hubs have been providing advice to struggling businesses and directing businesses to funding support. We have also been reworking our own existing funding pots to create new COVID-19 funds for businesses, infrastructure investment and skills training.
“We truly believe that the South East will help lead the country out of the crisis and into recovery. The Getting Building Fund provides the next phase of financial stimulus to restart our economy.”