Case study: West Lindsey District Council - Levelling Up Fund Round 1 bid application
Client: West Lindsey District Council
Date: April – June 2021
Challenges faced by the client: West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) has ambitious plans to support the inclusive growth and regeneration of the district’s communities. The Council (LUF category 2) required our business case specialists to work alongside their team to develop a high-quality bid for the first round of the Levelling Up Fund.
The Council’s LUF bid is designed to address numerous market failures. The town of Gainsborough requires ‘levelling up’; the historic heart (Market Place) is stagnant, with increasing shop and market stall vacancies, reduced footfall during the day and no night-time economy. Other areas of the town, including Marshall’s Yard, are thriving. Several of the town’s wards suffer from acute deprivation, with one ranked within the country’s 0.1% most deprived.
The Council appointed Mutual Ventures and our partners Project Centre and Cadence Innova, to lead the development of the LUF application. Additionally, the Council required us to support the development of their in-house capabilities, enabling the Council to develop their own high-quality bids for central government funding in the future.
Prior to our appointment, the Council had developed a long list of interventions designed to address a range of market failures. They required support to refine these into a shortlist of defined interventions (fully costed and informed by robust delivery plans) that were underpinned by a cohesive and compelling strategic narrative/Theory of Change that produced an attractive benefit-cost ratio (‘BCR’). Finally, the Council required us to translate these plans into a high-quality LUF application, which clearly demonstrated the strategic fit, value for money and deliverability of the proposed interventions.
Support offered: Initially, we supported the Council to develop its strategy to inform the LUF application. ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ is designed to establish the physical, economic, social and environmental conditions required to address economic decline and the acute deprivation experienced across several wards. Our partners Project Centre led on the development of a Public Realm Strategy Masterplan, to inform the interventions included within the ‘Thriving Gainsborough 2024’ strategy.
The strategy demonstrated how and why LUF investment would act as a visually impactful enabler and catalyst for clean and organic economic growth, attracting private investment and providing all residents with accessible employment and training opportunities.
Through a Theory of Change and the development of costed propositions for each intervention, we were able to identify a suite of mutually supportive interventions designed to address the market failures and have a defined and measurable impact on communities, businesses and other public partners.
Our economic modelling identified the financial and non-financial benefits of the interventions, while we supported the Council to develop a commercial model that promoted ‘additionality’; the blending of Council, private, public (including LEP) and government investment.
Prior to commencing the development of the application, we led on the development of key documents, including a procurement strategy, risk log, costed delivery plans, Theory of Change, VfM model and approach to monitoring and evaluation.
Once completed, we ‘held the pen’ on the application itself, supporting the Council to engage with and gain support from a wide range of stakeholders, including the MP, elected members, private investors and a range of partners (Place Board, local colleges, VCS organisations and LEP).
Outcome achieved: The Council’s LUF application was submitted ahead of the round 1 deadline (18th June 2021). The application has strong support from the local MP, private investors, the owners of heritage assets, Town Council, Heritage Centre and Chamber of Commerce.
In October 2021, the Council was informed of their success in securing the full value of LUF funding (£10.3m) requested in the bid. Work is currently underway to implement the interventions identified within the bid. Mutual Ventures are delighted to be continuing the delivery of support to the Council during the implementation stage.
Mutual Ventures supported us to prepare a compelling, clear and coherent submission of the highest quality. They provided bid writing, robust strategic challenge, project management, comprehensive technical and financial input, and professional assurance. Investing in Mutual Ventures support has accelerated our wider place-making agenda and resulted in a high-quality case for investment in Gainsborough. Their inclusive approach helped this to become a real team effort and ensured significant corporate learning and buy-in of stakeholders to our plans.
Sally Grindrod-Smith, Assistant Director Planning and Regeneration, West Lindsey District Council