Region secures more than £70 million to drive new infrastructure and the green economy

Malvern Hills Science Park

Projects from across the region have secured more than a £70 million share of the government’s £900 million Getting Building Fund, announced by the government in June which is intended to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country.

It is supporting the delivery of shovel-ready infrastructure projects, agreed with mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs.

Worcester Local Enterprise Partnership has been awarded £12 million. The funding will support projects such as improving digital connectivity and innovation across the county and the expansion of the Science and Technology Park in Malvern.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), which includes Coventry, has received up to £66 million through the Government’s scheme. Since Warwickshire is not a constituent member of the WMCA, the Coventry & Warwickshire LEP has also prepared a prioritised list for the county for the separate £8.1 million it has been given.

Gloucestershire Local Enterprise Partnership has secured £11.3 million. This will contribute to a range of projects, including The Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre in partnership with Cirencester College – building a new landmark building, modelled on digital industries delivering the skills needed in the Cyber and Digital sectors.

Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership has secured £8.4 million, which includes projects such as a Green Construction Skills Centre, to help meet the forecast demand for green construction skills, and a programme to tackle the projected increase in vacant units in Oxford City centre and Oxfordshire’s market towns. Vacant units will be transformed into spaces for a diverse range of uses.

The Thames Valley LEP has secured £7.5 million. This includes funding for a Pharma and Life Sciences Lab where 300 young people will receive scientific work experience in a high-quality laboratory; a new 475 sqm Renewable Resources Centre that will deliver more qualified engineers to install energy efficient systems.

Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership has secured £9.7 million, which includes funding for a Business Cyber Centre, creation of a new research and innovation centre at Porton Science Park and the revitalisation of Swindon’s Carriage Works.

Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership has been allocated £7.7 million of the Governments Getting Building Fund to four keys projects to support economic growth in Buckinghamshire. These include The Westcott Disruptive Innovative Space Centre and Centre for Artificial Intelligence and iHub Incubation and Innovation at the University of Buckingham.

The investment is part of the government’s plan to deliver upgrades to local infrastructure and boost skills to help fuel a green economic recovery.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “As we get Britain building we are also laying the foundations for a green economic recovery by investing in vital infrastructure for local communities, creating jobs and building environmentally-friendly homes with a huge £1.3 billion investment announced today.

“This Government is determined to level up all parts of the country and this funding will not only give a much-needed boost to our economic recovery, it will help build the good quality, affordable homes the country needs.”

Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership Network, Mark Bretton said: “As business led partnerships with a ready-made pipeline of projects, LEPs responded swiftly to the Prime Minister’s call for infrastructure projects with more available when government is ready.

“LEPs ‘can do’ business attitude has created a proven track record of complex delivery, landing projects at scale, on time and to budget. The foundations they are building for local recovery in their Five Point Plan will underpin our national recovery.”

The funding commitments come ahead of a radical overhaul of the planning system due to be announced shortly. The reforms will bring about a simpler, faster, people-focused system to deliver the high-quality, energy efficient homes we need.

As part of the changes, developers will have to contribute fairly to the infrastructure needed to sustain communities, ensure designs keep in with local character and work as part of a new interactive online planning system.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Worcestershire is a key economy within the Midlands and this support from Government further emphasises that.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “As well as an immediate investment to help our local economy, the money provided by the fund is also an investment in our future, to secure the West Midlands’ place as a global leader in green and clean technology, life sciences, transport of the future, and construction.”

GFirst LEP’s Chief Executive David Owen said: “The list of projects that we are now able to fund focus heavily on the cyber, digital and agri-tech sectors, sectors that were identified in our Local Industrial Strategy as the top growth opportunities in the county.”

Alison Webster, Chief Executive of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, said: ““The investment from Government is welcome and the LEP was both vigorous in its pursuit of funding and effective in its targeted use of this money to maximise benefit to the local economy.”