Helston has been unsuccessful in its bid for £17 million to transform the town centre and its future.

Months of work went in to forming the bid for Levelling Up funding from the government and all the indications had been that the town was on track to get something.

The bid from the Helston Place Shaping Board was for three projects:

Helston Gatewaythe refurbishment of the derelict Co-op/Budgens building as a multipurpose community enterprise with workspace, leisure facilities for young people, café and learning kitchen.

Helston Cultural Quarter – the revitalisation of Helston’s historic cultural district, increasing visits to cultural venues like the Museum of Cornish Life and CAST (Cornubian Arts and Science Trust), and supporting creative enterprise.

Connecting Helston - a series of transport improvements to liberate the town centre from vehicle congestion, transform its entry points and streetscape, activating a shift from car to active travel.

However, this evening the government announced the latest round of funding – and Helston’s bid, along with another on the Isles of Scilly, proved unsuccessful.


Scilly’s bid was to develop the Town Hall on St Mary's into a new museum and cultural centre, to showcase the island’s artefacts and collections, and also provide space for local art, food and crafts with space for markets, galleries and festivals, as well as a year-round entertainment venue for performances, gigs and cinema.

The government said that while both bids were considered by officials in the Department for Levelling Up, they had not been successful due to “the high number of applications and the quality of the competition”.

As in the previous round of funding – in which the Isles of Scilly was awarded £48.4 million for improved sea links including a new Scillonian Ferry – unsuccessful bids are entitled to a full debrief on why their project was not selected, so that an improved bid can be made at a later stage.

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas had given his backing to both bids and said: “It is always a challenge to secure the funds needed, however worthy and constructive the proposals are, and I'm determined to work to find a way to fund the projects.

“Helston, in particular, needs this level of funding to enhance the town's offer for residents and visitors, and needs funds to repurpose parts of the town to reflect modern and changing consumer behaviour.

“I'm personally committed to ensuring the town and its community is not left behind.

“I've asked for specific feedback to prepare for further opportunities and will be meeting representatives in Helston and on Scilly in the next two weeks to agree how we progress the proposed schemes rather than abandon them.”

The Packet has contacted Helston Place Shaping Board for its response to the news.

It is not the first time Helston has missed out on government cash. In 2019 Helston was told it needed to set out "clear priorities" after failing to win Towns Fund millions

This feedback had been what galvanised the town into putting huge effort into creating this latest Levelling Up bid. 

Four bids for Levelling Up Fund money had been submitted by Cornwall Council in total. 

It has already been announced that the Stadium for Cornwall bid is no longer going forward. The other two bids were for: 

- The Mid Cornwall Metro (MCM) project, which the council says would improve the service between Newquay and Falmouth by providing a sustainable 'transport corridor' through the middle of the Cornwall. This, it says, would connect some of Cornwall’s most deprived communities to employment, education (including higher education and university), and key services, as well as help grow the economy in both areas.

- St Austell has been described as a "priority place for levelling up and town revitalisation", as identified by Cornwall Council's town vitality programme.

It has been announced this evening that the Mid Cornwall Metro project has been awarded nearly £50 million to create a direct train service linking Newquay, St Austell, Truro, and Falmouth alongside better walking and cycling access to stations.

The St Austell bid had already been withdrawn after submission.