Published: August 5, 2020 | Updated: August 5, 2020

Dorset LEP hails “fantastic investment” as £11.8m boost set to stimulate local recovery

The proposed university centre & rural business development hub at Kingston Maurward College.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Dorset is set to receive £11.8m through the Getting Building Fund to help stimulate local economic recovery and create new jobs.

The announcement, by Simon Clarke MP, Regional Growth and Local Government Minister, has been described as “a fantastic investment” by Dorset LEP.

The Getting Building Fund will enable a Dorset-wide uplift to skills and healthcare provision as well as enhanced physical and digital infrastructure, building on existing specialisms and strengths in the county.

Investment will be made in trailblazing community rehabilitation initiatives as well as a brand new university centre and rural business development hub.

The funding will also facilitate tackling poor social mobility in some of Dorset’s most deprived areas through a ‘cutting-edge’ higher education centre and will provide state-of-the-art digital infrastructure to deliver online training for skills required in the workplace.

Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset LEP, pictured left, said: “This is a fantastic investment in Dorset from government at a much-needed time.

“This funding will enable capital projects linked to Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy to be delivered quickly, bringing essential jobs and resources to our community which will accelerate growth in Dorset and help mitigate the economic impacts of Covid-19.”

Innovation is expected to come from the region’s hospitals, universities and the Clinical Commissioning Group working together.

The funding will accelerate the Institute of Biomedical Materials & Tissue Engineering Research and support training for future generations.

It will also enable digital interventions in the remote management of long-term conditions and expand clinical trials capacity to fast-track innovation in medical science.

Recognising the need to maintain and enhance Dorset’s high streets in a period of complex change, investment has also been prioritised for live workspaces in Poole.

The aim is to put culture and community at the front and centre of Dorset LEP’s plans for recovery and resilience while driving Dorset’s local productivity during an exceptional time.

Export and import potential via the Port of Poole is also expected to be enhanced by the investment.

Nearly a third of the funding – £3.5m – will go to create a new university centre and rural business development hub at Kingston Maurward College near Dorchester.

Luke Rake, Principal, said he was “extremely pleased” that the college had been prioritised for funding.

He added: “It has long been recognised that progression to higher education is less good from the rural part of the county.

“This ambitious intervention, driven by the college, aims to help improve social mobility, opportunities for knowledge transfer both at a high level and sit at the centre of gravity of the new rural authority.

“Combining this with a dedicated rural business centre will both support businesses across the rural area and also increase opportunities with our new rural business, tourism and heritage land management programmes for sixth formers and university students from 2021-22.

“It is extremely exciting and a game-changer for both the college, Dorchester and the rural county.”

The Dorset allocation of £11.8m is part of a total £900m Getting Building Fund announced by the government to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country.

The projects to be funded in Dorset are:

Kingston Maurward College: University Centre & Rural Business Development Hub (proposed £3.5m allocation). This project will develop a new anchor point for university education within rural Dorset within the rural business and agri-environment fields. The development will allow the delivery of both rural business support and growth potential alongside potential business incubation units focusing on agri-environment delivery.

Poole Harbour Commissioners: Border Control Post (£365k proposed allocation). This project will involve the construction of a border control post at the Port of Poole. The transition period of the UK’s exit from the EU comes to an end this year – subsequently the UK will implement full border controls on imports entering from the EU. The proposal to construct a border control post facility is instrumental in securing the commercial viability of operations at the Port of Poole.

Poole Harbour Commissioners: Public Trade Office (proposed £330k allocation). This project involves the construction of a public trade office to enable efficient and effective processing of freight, essential in maintaining the viability of commercial operations at the Port of Poole.

Bournemouth University: Research Active Dorset Clinical Trials Unit (proposed £497k allocation). The new Research Active Dorset Clinical Trials Unit will provide a clinical trials service for industry and NHS trusts in Dorset and beyond to enable innovation in medical science. It will enable businesses to run trials locally and greatly increase inward investment, job creation, and economic growth.

Bournemouth and Poole College: Network Infrastructure (proposed £689k allocation). This project will provide modern up-to-date infrastructure which will improve the network bandwidth and throughput used by students, apprentices and staff to develop and teach the skills required in the workplaces, support the increasing use of digital resources, and support the online delivery of teaching and learning for both onsite and remote learners.

Weymouth College: Higher Education Centre (proposed £255k allocation). This project will refurbish the university centre at Weymouth College to directly address the higher education ‘cold spot’ in Dorset. This innovation will directly focus on the issues of poor social mobility specifically in South and West Dorset and contribute strongly to regeneration and the many poverty and low aspiration issues of coastal communities.

BCP Council: Old Town Creative Live/Workspace (proposed £1.75m allocation). This project relates to the acquisition of void underutilised land fronting Poole’s town centre’s lower high street. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council has submitted a Future High Streets bid which would see the closure of the high street to traffic to encourage the development of a vibrant street scene. Acquisition of the site will enable development of the site into flexible live/workspace with small units for artisans/creatives to make, display and sell their products at ground level.

Bournemouth University: Institute of Biomedical Materials & Tissue Engineering Research (proposed £1.4m allocation). This project is for an Institute of Biomedical Materials & Tissue Engineering Research that brings together and furthers expertise in nanocomposite materials and cryo-biobanking across stakeholders including the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Bournemouth University. The infrastructure investment will create the Dorset Biobank and a nanocomposites laboratory that will support the education provision to 1250+ trainees and £7m Gross Value Added to the Dorset economy.

Dorset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group on behalf of Dorset Integrated Care System Long term condition remote management of hypertension (proposed £300k allocation). This project builds on an existing local growth fund project implemented in collaboration with RBCH NHS Foundation Trust. Around a third of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, although many will not realise it. The only way to find out if one’s blood pressure is high is to have it checked. High blood pressure, or hypertension, rarely has noticeable symptoms. But if untreated, it increases risk of serious problems such as heart attacks and strokes. The long-term condition remote management of hypertension project will help to deliver a digital intervention and improvement to the hypertension pathway in Dorset.

AECC University College Integrated Healthcare Centre (proposed £2.7m allocation). This project will establish an internationally recognised centre for research and treatment in rehabilitation, as well as offering innovative, research-informed education and training, and continuing professional development opportunities, to students and qualified practitioners.