Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has signed a Growth Deal with central Government that will see the start of a six year investment programme in jobs, infrastructure and transport.
The deal is worth £202 million over six years, starting with investment of £38m of new funding in 2015/16 and, say the LEP, it will deliver 14,000 jobs, 4,600 new homes and 190,000 square meters of employment space.
The money is supposed to deliver the infrastructure and support that enables the region’s businesses to compete internationally and capitalise on Gatwick Airport’s excellent links to global markets.
Investment will take place in flood defences, major transport schemes, international trade and support for businesses across West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Lewes, East Surrey, Croydon and the Gatwick Diamond.
It is hoped that this investment from Government will unlock an additional £83 million of investment from local partners and £158m from the private sector.
Certainly, the investment could allow the kind of private sector investment in, for example, new homes which will be essential if the jobs that we can create around here are to be filled by people with a short commute. Other things will also be necessary, which are not in the direct control of the LEP, such as collaboration from the planning teams at the local authorities. There can be no homes without planning permission.
Coast to Capital has done well. Despite that the Local Growth Fund, from where the money will come, was set up by the Government to rebalance the economy – i.e. to create jobs in the North – a south east based LEP has got itself one of the ten largest grants of the 39 agreed. This is to be celebrated.
Now the LEP must spend it, and spend it quickly, so that the benefits can be felt, and so we can grow our economy quicker than our competitor UK or European regions.