Southampton among eight finalists for UK's City of Culture 2025

Places on the longlist will be given £40,000 to develop their full application Credit: ITV Meridian

Southampton is among eight areas set to be handed £40,000 to bid to become the UK's next City of Culture.

Some 20 areas put bids forward but only Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Bradford, Cornwall, County Durham, Derby, Southampton, Stirling and Wrexham County Borough will battle it out to become UK City of Culture 2025, taking over the accolade from Coventry.

Watch: Claire Whitaker, Bid Director for Southampton explains what this means for the city.

It's the first time, those on the longlist will be able to access £40,000 each to develop their full application ahead of a shortlist being announced early next year.

In a post on Twitter, Southampton City Council said the announcement of the longlist was an exciting way to end the week.

Elsewhere in the South East, Medway has failed to feature in the longlist and means it is no longer in the running to be the UK's city of culture 2025.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the focus of the competition this time around was "levelling up access to culture across the country" as the longlisted entries in the race were revealed.

Ms Dorries said: "Winning the UK City of Culture competition has a hugely positive impact on an area, driving investment, creating jobs, and highlighting that culture is for everyone, regardless of their background.

Southampton is one of eight areas in the UK on the longlist for City of Culture 2025 Credit: ITV Meridian

All the bids were asked to include information on how they intended to use culture to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area.

Sir Phil Redmond, chairman of the City of Culture expert advisory panel, said: "The expressions of interest stage was introduced as an opportunity to encourage many more places to experience the benefit of coming together to define and share a cultural vision for their areas, and what the longlist demonstrates is the range and depth of cultural ambition across the whole of the UK.

"Also for the first time, each longlisted city will receive financial support to help them develop their vision. Each is different. Each has its own story to tell. All share a common aim: to demonstrate how culture can act as the creative catalyst for change. I am really looking forward to seeing how each story develops."