By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A ‘levelling up’ bid worth £40 million is expected to be submitted to the Government next month to help unlock thousands of homes, transport infrastructure and jobs in Toton.
The bid will focus on a link road to serve the wider Toton and Chetwynd project and comes as the East Midlands Development Corporation (DevCo), its governing body, was given funding and powers to drive the scheme forward.
It forms part of plans to redevelop land at the Chetwynd Barracks site, in Swiney Way, after its scheduled closure in 2024.
The land is earmarked for as many as 4,500 homes, employment space and a major transport hub that was initially due to serve an HS2 station.
Initial estimates for the link road, which will open up the site to transport connections, were £30m.
Now leaders are planning the £40m bid to the Government’s Levelling Up fund, which will help to unlock the link road and create a development hub three times the size of the Olympic Park in London.
The road was approved by county councillors last year and would be based to the east of Bardills Island, connecting the A52 with Toton Lane.
It follows the Department for Transport (DfT) confirming it will give the DevCo £1m annually for two years to draw up wider plans for the Toton and Chetwynd sites.
This will help towards submitting the Levelling Up Fund bid next month as well as working out how to tie in separate projects like reopening the Maid Marian Line.
And it will allow leaders to work out how to alter their plans after the Government opted for East Midlands Parkway over Toton for its high-speed HS2 rail connectivity.
Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Mansfield MP, says the funding is a “vote of confidence” in the work of the DevCo.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’re working on rail links and road links, we’re going to put that bid in, and that’s our next big transport project for the county.
“This is the key that unlocks all of the opportunities because it gives us the access to the site to get it started.
“It’s massive for the wider, regional economy and the Government is trusting the DevCo to do big work.
“It’s in legislation that the DevCo will get planning powers through the Levelling Up Bill to bring these sites forward, put infrastructure in, agree what’s going in there and set standards.
“The Government is properly backing it, consistently giving us what we’re asking for and we’re getting the vehicles and opportunities in place to crack on with it.”
But concerns have been raised over the viability of the Toton Masterplan after the Government opted for East Midlands Parkway for HS2.
The Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), published by the Government in November last year, confirmed the change after years of planning for HS2 in Toton and tens of millions of pounds committed to the preparation.
The IRP did, however, commit to exploring a transport hub in Toton for regular railway connectivity but stated the scheme would require 50 per cent match-funding from the private sector.
This was something Cllr Bradley said at the time would not pose any issues due to the “opportunities” at the Toton site.
However, Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), leader of the Independent Alliance at County Hall, said: “Let’s not forget that the Government has broken promise after promise when it comes to Toton.
“They promised HS2 to Toton and broke that promise.
“Let’s not forget too that any future improvement at Toton is reliant on 50 per cent match funding from the private sector.
“Nottinghamshire County Council spent £22 million buying land in and around Toton and still we have no guarantees about any new railway station or indeed connectivity.”
The Levelling Up Fund bid is due to be discussed by Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet on July 14.
It is hoped the wider Toton plans, when coupled with plans for ‘freeport’ sites at East Midlands Airport and Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, will provide a £4.8bn boost to the regional economy and create 84,000 jobs.
Cllr Milan Radulovic (Lab), leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, previously described the Toton plans – based within his borough – as a “powerhouse to level up the whole of the country”.