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Growth fund to boost infrastructure

Worcester Editorial 9th Jul, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

A SERIES of key projects to boost the city’s economy are set to become a reality with an injection of £47million from the Government over the next few years.

Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership will receive £12.9million from 2015/16 with another £34.1million in future years as part of the Worcestershire Growth Deal.

The cash is the county’s share of a £2billion national pot to fund infrastructure, housing, skills and transport projects and follows the submission of the county’s strategic economic plan (SEP) at the end of March, developed by the LEP and Worcestershire County Council.

Although £48million was requested by the LEP for 2015/16, the funding committed will still allow up to 3,000 new jobs to be created, 1,000 new homes and generate up to £70million in public and private investment by financing a series of major schemes.

They include the development of Worcester Technology Park off Junction 6 of the M5 which will create 5,500 skilled jobs over ten years and the dualling of the Southern Link Road between Norton and the Whittington Island.

A total of £4million is set to be pumped into seven flood alleviation schemes across the county, including £700,000 for a project to raise the level of New Road.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said he was also pleased to see investment in a new Centre of Vocational Education to support engineering apprenticeships and provide space in partnership with a specialist training provider.

“This growth deal is about more than just infrastructure, it is about skills and growth for the whole County,” he said.

“As the economy recovers we are seeing a great deal of demand for highly skilled workers and the business community is beginning to focus on skills as the next big challenge.

“We have already halved youth unemployment in Worcester but I want to see further reductions. This growth deal will help Worcestershire to meet that challenge.”

In total the SEP’s aim is to create more than 25,000 jobs over ten years. Funding of £280million was requested from the Government for the whole period, of which about £53million has now been secured over the first few years of the plan, when the growth deal money is combined with other funding including £5.5million from the Growing Places Fund.

Coun Simon Geraghty, responsible for economy, infrastructure and skills for Worcestershire County Council Council, added: “This is great news and backs the ambitious ten year plan that was devised by local government and businesses working together through Worcestershire LEP.

“The allocation over the next five years is significant and allows investment in key schemes across  the county in rail, road, broadband and flood alleviation.

“Looking to the future there are exciting times ahead and we will now work alongside others in bringing these projects to reality thereby boosting the local economy and tackling key transport bottlenecks.”

Schemes included in the Worcestershire Growth Deal:

* Phase 2 of the Hoobrook Link Road in Kidderminster delivering jobs and homes on the former British Sugar site

* Expansion of Malvern Hill Science Park to create space for more high-tech and cyber security firms. The scheme has been allocated £1million next year and £3million in future years

* Dualling of the Southern Link Road between Norton and the Whittington Island in Worcester which will ease congestion and also allow the creation of jobs and homes. About £12million has been allocated with £18million from developers.

* Worcester Technology Park off junction 6 of the M5 which will create 5,500 skilled jobs over ten years. The money will allow some initial work to start before the end of this year.

* A commitment to the Worcestershire Parkway Station at Norton near Worcester

* Extra cash to expand access to superfast broadband to those areas hardest to reach meaning by 2017, 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Worcestershire will benefit from the technology.

* £4million for flood alleviation schemes including £700,000 for a project on New Road in Worcester

* A Centre of Excellence for Vocational Engineering Training

* An instruction to the Homes and Communities Agency to work with the LEP and others to release land at the Reddtich Eastern Gateway (Winyates Triangle) which will see the the building of a new business park to attract high tech research and development companies to the area

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