The South East of England has won the largest chunk of a £900m cash pot for ‘shovel ready’ projects aimed at giving the economy a quick boost as part of the prime minister’s ‘New Deal’.
South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has secured £85m from the new Getting Building Fund, having submitted a bid to government for £573m for a longlist of 170 projects.
While the initial bid included ‘infrastructure for housing or future transport schemes’, there is no guarantee that these will now be taken forward.
A spokesperson for SELEP told Transport Network that its strategic board will meet next week to review and narrow down the longlist by focusing on projects that are able to offer assurance of timelines, fast deliverability and the creation of new jobs.
With the Government having indicated some schemes that it favours, SELEP’s board will negotiate with it to create a final list of funded projects. SELEP said it hopes to be able to share this list in the week commencing 20 July.
Southend, in the South East
It said the cash will be used for projects across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock, ‘focusing on areas and industries that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as those sectors that will provide the most help for the economy to bounce back’.
Chair Christian Brodie said: ‘The scale of this funding in such a short time period is unprecedented. We will now be focusing on getting this capital out of the door and into the communities that need it most – where it can make a difference as soon as possible.
‘This funding could be the deciding factor between a business surviving or not, or people having a job in six months’ time or not. Therefore we are ensuring that we act quickly to get these projects up and running.’
Chief executive Adam Bryan added: ‘We submitted a strong longlist of projects, which clearly demonstrated the need to invest in the South East as the catalyst for growth elsewhere. We are pleased that Government can see our potential, as evidenced by the funding package we have secured.’
The £900m has been shared between local enterprise partnerships and combined authorities across England, with some receiving as little as £7.5m.
The Heart of the South West LEP submitted a list of 63 ‘shovel ready’ projects amounting to £121m and was awarded £35.4m. It said it expects be able to confirm the ‘priority list’ of projects by 17 July following discussions with Government officials.