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Groundwork report on first year of HS2 community grants scheme

Posted on 08 March 2018

  • Groundwork, independent administrators of Phase One of HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF) release review of first 12 months of funding programme
  • The Funds, which have a combined value of £40 million have so far awarded £245,000 to six projects, with grants totaling £746,000 pending approval
  • Over 300 CEF and BLEF applications are currently in progress from along the line of route for Phase One
  • Groundwork say take up of BLEF funding has been slightly behind that of CEF – but predicts this will change in coming months

Groundwork has today published its review of the first 12 months of administering Phase One of the HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). 

The national community charity was appointed as independent administrators for the Funds on behalf of HS2 in December 2016.  A combined total of £40 million has been made available for CEF and BLEF over a period of 11 years to offset the disruption of HS2 Phase One on local communities and businesses.  The Funds will be released during the construction period and for the first year HS2 Phase One operates.  

The report sets out the steps Groundwork have taken to raise awareness of the Funds and highlights that as of 2 February 2018 six grants totaling £285,429 have been awarded.  A pipeline of four submitted applications totaling £705,956 are pending approval, with a further 300 applications to the Funds in progress. 

Click here to read the report.

The first organisations to secure CEF Local grants are:

  • Castlehaven Community Association in Camden, London, receiving £73,591 to support ‘Greengage’, a local community initiative to get more residents engaged in environmental issues.
  • Helmdon Acorns pre-school in Northamptonshire, receiving £5,442 to improve the safety and accessibility of the children’s play area.
  • Thorpe Mandeville Village Hall Trust receiving £4,650 to resolve damp issues at the village hall.
  • Steeple Claydon Methodist Church in Buckinghamshire, receiving £12,000 to make a number of improvements to the church premises.
  • West Euston Partnership in London, receiving £74,804 to support ‘Healthtrain’, a community-led local health initiative.
  • Wormleighton Parochial Church Council in Warwickshire, receiving £74,982 to install facilities in St Peters Church.

Click here to view the projects on an interactive map.

While application rates to CEF are encouraging, the report suggests potential applicants to the BLEF funding stream are taking more time to develop the required local strategic partnerships and develop quality bids prior to submission.  Groundwork say they expect this picture to change over the course of the next 12 months as local strategic partnerships agree local priorities and mobilise themselves towards submitting strategic applications. 

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s national chief executive, said:

The level of interest shown in CEF & BLEF over the past 12 months is encouraging and the diverse range of applications we’ve received shows that place matters to people and those living in a community tend to know what’s best for their community.  HS2 is a long-term project and we want these funds to play a part in generating a lasting legacy in local communities along the route. 

A key priority for the year ahead will be to boost the rate of strategic applications received that meet the priorities of communities along the line of route.  We will do this by increasing the level of outreach, events and by providing more opportunities for business networks to learn more about the Funds and submit quality bids.

Groundwork’s report coincides with the announcement of a £450,000 grant from the Funds for a new woodland hub with an adventure trail, café and parking for 600 visitors at Wendover Woods, near Buckinghamshire.

The Wendover Woods recreational development project near Aylesbury to see plans for a £4.45 million redevelopment of the site, one of the largest areas of publically accessible open spaces in the region. The £450,000 grant is the largest funding award given to any single project so far from a £40 million HS2 Phase One Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF).

Cathy Elliott, independent chair of CEF and BLEF, said: 

Funding this first strategic project is another milestone for the Funds. I’m delighted that we are showcasing this project to demonstrate the ways in which large scale funding can benefit a number of communities near to the line of route and support an organisation that is working in partnership to achieve a common goal. I encourage communities and organisations near to the line of route to come to together to consider the ways in which they could considerably benefit from these Funds.  

Nusrat Ghani, HS2 Minister, said:

HS2 will be the backbone of our national rail network – supporting growth and regeneration and helping us build a Britain fit for the future.

Whilst we know there will be disruption as we deliver one of Europe’s biggest infrastructure projects, we are absolutely committed to minimising the effects of building the new railway and it is great to see so many exciting local projects such as the Wendover Woods Recreational Development project benefit from this fund so even more people can access and enjoy our beautiful countryside. Funding such as CEF and BLEF will help to ensure that the legacy of HS2 is shared by everyone for generations to come.


Editor’s notes

For further information and to apply for funding, visit the website

CEF and BLEF offer four types of grants: CEF Local grants for under £75,000, CEF Strategic grants for £75,000 - £1million, BLEF kick-starter grants of up to £75,000 and BLEF strategic grants of £75,000 - £1million.

There are over 300 CEF and BLEF applications currently in progress from along the line of route for Phase One.

A combined total of £40 million has been made available for these two funds over 11 years throughout the Phase One construction period and for the first year of operation of HS2 service.

About Phase 2A

HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani announce on 25 January 2018 that an additional £5million is to be added to the CEF and BLEF funding pot for those disrupted during construction of the P2a scheme from Birmingham to Crewe. This brings the overall total of CEF and BLEF combined for Phase One and Phase 2a to £45m.

As was the case for the Phase One funding, the additional £5m for Phase 2a will not be available for application or administered by the Grant Management Body until after Royal Assent of the Phase 2a Bill, which was deposited on 17th July 2017.

The Funds have been designed with all three phases of HS2 in mind. The governance of the Funds will be the same for the Phase One and Phase 2a funding allocations, operating with one Grant Management Body, one independent Chair and one independent panel.