Last week saw the Government announce the first wave of funding allocation for LEPs in its Growth Deal. The North East achieved the third highest allocation, securing £289.3m subject to the conclusion of the funding agreement.
This will bring together local, national and private funding as well as new freedoms and flexibilities. It will also bring forward at least £90m of additional investment from local partners and the private sector. This will create a total package of £379.3m for the North East LEP.
The Strategic Economic Plan seeks to create 60,000 private sector jobs in the North East. In this first wave the plan is to create 4,000 jobs and focus on five areas – driving innovation and improving business support; working with schools to improve outcomes in education; tackling skills and economic inclusion; building economic assets and infrastructure; and enhancing transport and digital connectivity.
The NELEP Board, made up of the seven council leaders and seven private business people with a private sector chairman, is to guide the region on economic growth. Linked with the formation of the North East Combined Authority, which brings together the seven councils of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland, this should allow for strong local leadership, decision-making and control.
The first wave of funding is to be co-invested in:
The provision of £6.8m loan funding to accelerate delivery of 706 homes in Cramlington.
Development at Merchant Park 2, adjacent to Hitachi Rail Europe, Newton Aycliffe
Rural Growth Network infrastructure for key rural market towns.
Swans Wet Berth Infill – to increase the availability of commercial land with quay frontage at the Wallsend North East Enterprise Zone.
Five projects making up the North East innovation programme to drive innovation at Newcastle Life Sciences Incubation Hub, NETPark Infrastructure Phase 3 (Durham), Low Carbon Energy Centre, Newcastle Science Central, Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub and The Centre for Innovation in Formulation.
Five projects across the Further Education Colleges to increase skills levels.
Nine strategic transport projects programme with a further five projects starting in 2016/17 and beyond.
The success of this bid for funding has demonstrated strong partnership arrangements to deliver collective decisions. A great deal of our success going forward hinges on land, property and construction. We have the plan, the money. Now we must ensure we have the leadership and public/private collaboration to deliver and achieve the growth we seek.
Kevan Carrick is a partner at JK Property Consultants LLP, policy spokesman for RICS North East and chairman of Northern Dispute Resolution