Ambitious plans for city centre improvements are unveiled

Worcester city councillors are to be asked to back proposals to seek Government funding for several major improvement schemes across the city.

The City Council can bid for up to £20 million under the latest round of the national Levelling Up funding for projects which tie in with key themes of transport, town centre regeneration, and cultural and heritage investment.

Three potential projects are to be recommended to members of the Policy and Resources Committee tonight (4 July) and, if agreed, will be submitted for funding.

One scheme is improvements to Nunnery Wood Sports Complex. This would include the refurbishment of all the outdoor athletics facilities at Nunnery Wood, as well as improvements to the clubhouse; a new four-court sports hall at the rear of the existing building and the creation of a new single storey group exercise studio.

The project would provide a facility that can host local, regional and national competitions and improved facilities for the local community.

A cultural investment project would focus on the Pitchcroft Grandstand development.

A package of improvements to the Pitchcroft site would involve modernisation and extension of the existing grandstand and the creation of a rooftop summer bar and alfresco dining area.

With investment into the main public building, the improved grandstand would attract greater visitor numbers to the racecourse, for both race days and other events, including conferences and functions. The proposal is that the grandstand will continue to be operated by the Arena Racing Company but that the City Council would take a share in profits from its operation, and the facility would also be available for hire.

The regeneration of the Engine Works building at Shrub Hill, a former train maintenance complex currently in a poor state of repair, is the other scheme set to go before councillors. This would involve the initial revamping of the 7,000 square-metre site, potentially including offices and creative workshop space. The property belongs to Worcestershire County Council, and its repair and redevelopment would tie in with a much wider programme of regeneration and investment for the Shrub Hill area. Cash from the Government's Towns Fund is already in place for the redevelopment of the nearby Isaac Maddox House in Shrub Hill Road.

If councillors back the proposals, then an application for the three projects would need to be submitted by the deadline later this month. If initially approved by the Government, then the schemes will be assessed in more detail, before being given the final go-ahead.

Worcester has already benefited from more £40 million of public funding from the Government's Towns Fund, the Future High Streets Fund and the Cultural Development Fund.

Councillor Marjory Bisset, who chairs the Policy and Resources Committee, said: "We are always looking at ways to improve facilities in Worcester for the benefit of both residents and tourists. We have many projects already underway such as the revamp of The Arches - Worcester, and the Angel Place area, but we would like to do much more. If we get the go-ahead for our Levelling Up fund proposals we will be able to regenerate other areas of the city as well as improve our cultural and heritage offer."

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