£2m legacy fund as part of Black Cat project

A £2 million initiative aimed at leaving a “lasting positive legacy” in the East of England has launched, with National Highways asking for applications from not-for-profit groups and community organisations.

National Highways A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire are set to begin construction before the end of the year. Recognising the importance of community engagement and the desire to create a legacy that extends beyond the physical project, National Highways is committing £2 million to a dedicated legacy fund.

The aim is for National Highways to maximise wider benefits of the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements for local communities, environment, and local economy.

National Highways is calling on all local not-for-profit groups to apply for the grants, including local schools, charities, community groups and environment and heritage groups.

Two funds available for applicants are:
• A £1.7 million Social Value Fund to maximise the wider benefits of the scheme available for all not-for-profit organisations – grants between £15,000 and £200,000.
• A £250,000 Community Fund to support the local community and provide social value available for non-for-profit groups or small voluntary and community organisations – grants of up to £15,000.

Explaining the purpose of the fund Paul Salmon, National Highways Senior Project Manager, said: “We’re committed to helping local communities make the most of our investment. The A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements is a transformational project that will improve journeys and give the region a huge boost. We’re also committed to looking beyond the road network and bring lasting benefits to the local community by investing in projects that mean the most to them. We’re calling on a range of groups to take advantage of this investment, from schools and heritage clubs to those with ideas to enhance and improve our connection to the local environment.”

The applications will be assessed and awarded by two independent panels.

To be successful, applicants for the Social Value Fund (£15,000 – £200,000) must be able to show that their project or initiative falls near the proposed route, and will meet one of the following criteria:

• Economic prosperity – investing in new skills, jobs, supply chains and delivering improvements in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire
• Improving the environment – making sustainable decisions that conserve natural resources and enhance ecosystems
• Community wellbeing – addressing health-related issues and improving connectivity, amenities, education, and heritage programmes for communities
• Equality, diversity, and inclusion – supporting the creating of a more equal society by increasing opportunities for under-represented groups

Applicants for the Community Fund (up to £15,000) will need to show their initiative helps build skills and support employment, or supports and connects communities, or enhances the local environment. This will be administrated by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.

Michael O’Toole – CEO at Cambridgeshire Community Foundation – said, “We are delighted to be working with National Highways again on this important new upgrade to a key road in our region. The A428 Community Fund will support communities to create a lasting positive legacy, through social projects and building community assets. Grants from the fund will focus on a range of community projects including skills, enhancing the local environment and strengthening community connections.”

This is the first of five funding windows and is open to application until 1 February 2024. To find out more about the application process and submit an application, applicants should click here.

National Highways plans will see the creation of a new 10-mile dual carriageway linking the A1 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire. Both existing roundabouts will be upgraded into free-flowing junctions with a new junction added at Cambridge Road, improving access to St Neots and its railway station.       
      
The improvements are predicted to help drivers save up to an hour-and-a-half on their journeys every week.   The scheme is expected to open to traffic in 2027. 

(Picture – National Highways)
  

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