LEPs make £100m bids for infrastructure and skills projects

TWO Local Enterprise Partnerships in the West Midlands have submitted bids totalling more than £100m to the Government’s Growth Fund.
THE Marches LEP has launched a bid for nearly £68m of Government funding to support projects which could create more than 7,000 jobs and 2,850 new homes in the region. Worcestershire LEP is asking for £35m to support the implementation of its 10-Strategic Economic Plan.
The 11 projects from the Marches LEP, which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, could see nearly 50 hectares of employment land opened up and more than 2.7m sq ft of commercial space made available over the next decade.
The bid, which is for £67.9m and would be matchfunded by more than £75m, is for money from the £1.8bn Growth Fund. The schemes include the development of the proposed New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMITE) university in Herefordshire, a £19.9m project, and an enterprise park in Ross-on-Wye which would house more than 460 jobs.
Graham Wynn, chairman of the Marches LEP, said: “The total cost of these projects is more than £144 million and they will create sustainable private sector jobs, starter homes and access to higher education and training for the people who live and work in the Marches.
“Our bid also sets out our ambition for this enterprising region with a strategy to deliver economic growth through investment in innovation, higher levels skills, housing and business sites.”
Worcestershire’s bid for the third round of Growth Deal funding could now potentially see a range of programmes being supported, for example, an International Centre for Inclusive Sport, Physical Activity and Health at the University of Worcester and supporting Worcestershire County Council for infrastructure schemes such as A38 Corridor improvements and Pershore Northern Link Road developments.
Other potential projects include a new engineering faculty working in partnership with Heart of Worcestershire College, possible further expansion at Malvern Hills Science Park and extension of the successful Worcestershire Growth Fund with grants to support the expansion of local businesses, leverage private sector investment and the creation of jobs.
Gary Woodman, chief executive of the Worcestershire LEP, said: “We know that this is a funding stream which is oversubscribed many times over, however, we believe we have a compelling case for an additional £35m due to our current successes and have submitted an ambitious Growth Deal 3 bid for Worcestershire.
“It is important to remember that the bid represents partners from across the County, who would also put forward significant investment for schemes which receive funding, with all organisations working together to benefit the long-term prosperity of the county.”

A decision on this round of funding is expected to be made in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement in four months.