Council secures Levelling Up funding for cultural-led regeneration

ROTHER District Council has been awarded over £19m for community, creativity and skills in Bexhill.

The investment of £19,192,000 from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund will enable the delivery of cultural-led regeneration to improve the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Rother.

The money will help fund the transformation of the De La Warr Pavilion on Bexhill seafront and the development of new community facilities in Sidley, creating new jobs, upskilling local residents and bolstering career progression in the area’s creative and cultural sectors, particularly for young people.

Cllr Doug Oliver, leader of Rother District Council, said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded government funding to level up community, creativity and skills in Rother.

“This investment gives us the opportunity to harness the iconic De La Warr Pavilion, providing learning and skills opportunities as well as creating new jobs. It will also enable us to work with Heart of Sidley (Big Local) to develop a much-needed community and recreation facility in the heart of Sidley, which will support the local community.

“The funding will be transformative for our communities.”

The De La Warr Pavilion is a pioneering centre for arts and culture that plays a pivotal role in driving the local economy through tourism, regeneration and skills development in Rother, East Sussex and the wider South East region.

The proposed development includes improved accessibility for audiences, new auditorium technical and other learning facilities, the redevelopment of the outdoor community spaces, and new environmental systems to help meet net carbon neutral ambitions.

The total cost of the scheme is £23.4m and funding will be sought from other sources to cover the remainder of the project costs.

Stewart Drew, Director & CEO, De La Warr Pavilion, said: “Earl De La Warr’s vision for our amazing building was a People’s Palace that would drive the growth, prosperity and culture of the area.

“We want to be more relevant to more people and are hugely excited about the potential of this project to reach the more disadvantaged communities in our area and continue to be a catalyst for growth and prosperity.

“More spaces and better facilities mean we will be able to dramatically increase creative engagement, deliver high quality skills training including T Levels, provide flexible learning spaces, and attract new visitors.”

In a project led by Heart of Sidley (Big Local), the Levelling Up investment will also fund crucial community facilities in Sidley, one of the most deprived wards in the country.

The proposed community hub at Sidley Recreation Ground will connect Sidley with the De La Warr Pavilion and the town centre, providing increased opportunities for residents to develop their skills and access education and employment.

Jay Carroll, Chair of Heart of Sidley, said: ‘As Heart of Sidley approaches the last two years as a Big Local area, this is some very exciting news. Enabling us, without question, to align our vision in fulfilling a lasting legacy in fully transforming the old toilet block at Sidley Recreation Ground, into a state-of-the-art community hub and sports changing facilities. 

“We want local people to have as much opportunity as possible to be actively involved, and to feel proud to be part of a community with such a commitment to its future.”

Huw Merriman, MP for Bexhill and Battle and sponsor of RDC’s Levelling Up Fund application, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Rother has been successful in this hugely significant Levelling Up bid which I have been proud to support.

“This £19m funding demonstrates the government’s commitment to levelling up extends to communities in the South East which are often, mistakenly, considered to be affluent. We have six of England’s most deprived wards in Rother and this funding will improve access to vital learning and training opportunities as well as giving tourism and the local economy a tremendous boost.

“The De La Warr Pavilion already does great work in working with our local communities and this bid will enable to do so much more. It is really important to me that this project will deliver opportunities for the residents of Sidley.”

More information about the project will be available on the council’s website in the coming weeks.


Notes to Editors

De La Warr Pavilion

The De La Warr Pavilion (DLWP) is a centre for arts and culture in an iconic modernist building by the sea, designed by refugee Erich Mendelsohn and émigré Serge Chermayeff. It opened in 1935 as the ‘people’s palace for art and culture’ and now produces an innovative and integrated cultural programme of exhibitions and learning programmes as well as a diverse and popular programme of live music and comedy.  

The Pavilion takes the lead in the development of cultural tourism and skills in the region and plays a central role in the cultural and economic growth in Sussex.

For more information visit

Heart of Sidley (Big Local)

Heart of Sidley is a Big Local area. 8 years ago, we were awarded £1milllion by Local Trust to make a massive and lasting positive difference to our community. The Heart of Sidley started to use its funding in 2014 and is due to finish in 2025. The idea behind the Big Local is about bringing together all the local talent, ambitions, skills and energy from individuals, groups and organisations who want to make their area an even better place to live. 

Heart of Sidley is a community-led partnership, led entirely by local residents, in partnership with local organisations, businesses and others.  We’re supported by a Big Local representative and two locally trusted organisations – Rother Voluntary Action and Optivo.

As we prepare our charity, Heart of Sidley Community Association, for the exciting future ahead, we continue to work with the community to ensure that we work towards the community’s priorities.  We have a very proactive and driven group of people on board, who are all part of the Sidley community themselves.  We ensure voices are heard and action is taken in our commitment to improving the area and opportunities for local people.

For more information visit

Published: 26th January 2023

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