Funding bid submitted for ‘transformational’ projects

Clare Hayward, chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP

Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has submitted a number of diverse and ambitious projects to the Government for funding through its Comprehensive Spending Review.

It seeks to position the sub-region at the heart of the UK’s low carbon revolution and leading the way in efforts to “level-up” the economy.

The submission identifies a programme of investment of around £100m per year over the next four years that will put Cheshire and Warrington and the UK at the forefront of the world’s fight against both climate change and disease, and ensure that everyone in the sub-region has access to the training they need if they are to find new jobs post-the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Cheshire and Warrington economy has doubled in size over the last 20 years to a GVA, pre-Covid, of almost £32.5bn and has the potential to double again over the next 20 years.

Clare Hayward MBE, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “These exciting projects have the potential to transform our sub-region and the wider North West, creating high-skilled jobs and opportunities for all.”

The projects in the CSR submission submitted to the Government include life sciences, low carbon energy and logistics – where Cheshire and Warrington have existing strengths and potential for further transformational growth.

Hayward added: “Cheshire and Warrington is ready to play a leading role in the post-Covid-19 recovery plan – we have the knowledge, the skills and the assets waiting be unleashed. We’ve all have seen how the economic landscape has been changed this year, and while challenges remain, we are have set out a positive vision for the future, and we look forward to engaging with our partners in central Government to take forward our proposals.”

The submission includes accelerating plans for an Energy Innovation District around Ellesmere Port’s industrial cluster, which would become a world-leading centre of low carbon energy, driving economic growth and also significantly reducing the region’s carbon emissions.

One specific project is Hynet North West, a hydrogen energy and Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage project which is aiming to reduce carbon emissions from industry.

Hynet has the potential to create £17bn Gross Value Added for the North West economy with 5,000 North West jobs created to 2025 and many more beyond, whilst also delivering more than 1m tonnes of carbon dioxide savings per annum.

The LEP is seeking a contribution of £200m out of the £800m pledged by Government for capital funding to Carbon Capture Usage and Storage projects.

The LEP is also seeking to maximise Cheshire’s strengths in life sciences by working with the Government-funded Medicines Discovery Catapult based at the Alderley Park campus to create a Catapult Quarter and a new £40m National Translational Technology Development Centre. These schemes would exploit the area’s critical mass of expertise and infrastructure in diagnostics and the development and commercialisation of novel complex medicines.

It is also seeking funding to enable it to contribute £10m towards a new £50m fund for Greater Manchester and Cheshire to enable continued support for early stage life sciences companies.

The original £31m Cheshire and Greater Manchester Life Science Fund raised in 2015-16, to which the LEP invested £10m of Local Growth Funding is nearly fully invested, and the new fund would meet high demand for more early-stage funding for the sector.

A third pillar of the submission seeks Government support to enable Cheshire and Warrington to exploit the opportunities of the arrival of HS2 services at Crewe and Northern Powerhouse Rail at Warrington.

A key proposal is to create a High-Speed Growth Corridor that runs from Crewe to Warrington.

The HS2 Growth Corridor has the potential to deliver 6m sq ft of new office space, 9,000 new jobs and in excess of £280m of investment.

The Growth Corridor will bring together key strategic employment sites, housing growth areas and town centre regeneration programmes in the towns of Crewe, Middlewich, Winsford, Northwich and Warrington. It will build on traditional strengths in high value manufacturing, engineering and logistics as well as growing financial and professional services in Crewe and Warrington.

In addition, to allow the LEP continue its support to re-train and upskill employee, and helping the unemployed back into work, Cheshire and Warrington is looking for Government funding of £30m per year of revenue to enable us to provide a highly trained workforce.

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