Midlands businesses to receive £1.5m to map out development opportunities
Local business and council leaders across the Midlands will receive up to £1.5m to pioneer new technology to identify the best investment and regeneration opportunities across the area.
The Midlands Engine Partnership, in collaboration with the Geospatial Commission, will use the funding to develop a digital map of the region combining vast amounts of existing public and private sector data linked to location – covering infrastructure, local services, housing and other developments.
The government says the move will help create jobs, benefit the local economy and increase productivity. For example, land earmarked for housebuilding could be identified by other sectors as an opportunity to invest in developing nearby public assets, such as a school or office complex, as well as installing next-generation technologies, such as 5G connectivity.
On a visit to Derby, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, said: “In last week’s Budget, the Chancellor pledged to fuel the Midlands Engine and back the region’s growth and today we are building on that.
“By opening up this valuable data to both investors and developers we will create greater opportunities across the Midlands in vital areas like housebuilding.
“Through the harnessing of this data, we are encouraging both public and private sectors to work in smarter, more joined-up ways that will create jobs, boost productivity and grow the economy here in Derby and across the Midlands.”
The work is part of the government’s drive to maximise the value of data linked to locations, which it says could generate £11bn a year. The work is led by the Geospatial Commission and was announced by the Chancellor in November 2017.
Midlands Engine chairman Sir John Peace has welcomed news.
He said: “This really is great news for everyone in the Midlands Engine Partnership. This will fund an invaluable one-stop digital map for local authorities that will allow them to work much faster and more efficiently.
“At the Midlands Engine we have committed to supporting the build of 600,000 new homes in the next 15 years. This is an ambitious target and the tool will support local authorities by giving them the information that they need to identify suitable development sites and work in a more joined-up way.
“The mapping tool will also allow faster and more informed decisions with ready access to maps of utilities, surgeries and educational establishments.”