County projects get millions in cash boost

By <b>Ian Dipple Friday 11 July 2014 Updated: 11/07 09:07

A SERIES of key projects to boost the county’s economy is set to become a reality with an injection of £47million from the Government over the next few years.

Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership will receive £12.9million from 2015/16 with another £34.1million in future years as part of the Worcestershire Growth Deal.

The cash is the county’s share of a £2billion national pot to fund infrastructure, housing, skills and transport projects and follows the submission of the county’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) at the end of March, developed by the LEP and Worcestershire County Council.

Although £48million was requested by the LEP for 2015/16, the funding committed will still allow up to 3,000 new jobs to be created, 1,000 new homes and generate up to £70 million in public and private investment by financing a series of major schemes.

They include the expansion of Malvern Hills Science Park to create space for more high-tech and cyber security firms, a centre of excellence for vocational engineering training and support and the development of Worcester Technology Park off Junction 6 of the M5.

The Government has also thrown its weight behind a number of schemes which will be developed in future years but on which work is not ready to start.

They include a commitment to the creation of the Worcestershire Parkway Railway Station at Norton near Worcester and an instruction to the Homes and Communities Agency to to work with the LEP and others to release land at the Redditch Eastern Gateway around Winyates, which will see a new business park built to attract high-tech research and development companies to the area.

In total the SEP’s aim is to create more than 25,000 jobs over ten years. Funding of £280million was requested from the Government for the whole period, of which about £53million has now been secured over the first few years of the plan, when the growth deal money is combined with other funding including £5.5million from the Growing Places Fund.

There is also £13.5million being invested by councils and £55million from Europe as well as additional investment from the private sector.

Peter Pawsey, chairman of Worcestershire LEP, said given demand exceeded the money on offer, the deal for Worcestershire was fair and a good one.

“Worcestershire has massive untapped potential and WLEP, including its local authority partners, is determined and committed to pushing on with our growth programme.”

Coun Simon Geraghty, responsible for economy, infrastructure and skills on the council, added: “There’s a whole host of schemes the council and the LEP has been working on for a number of years, now they will come to fruition. This should give the public and businesses confidence, it’s a real boost for Worcestershire’s economy.”

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