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Multimillion-pound strategy for Midlands Engine published

Words: Laura Edgar
Nottingham city centre / Shutterstock_205702927

Chancellor Philip Hammond has launched the Midlands Engine Strategy, which sets out a multimillion-pound investment for skills, connectivity and local growth in the region.

He said yesterday the strategy would follow hot on the heels of the Budget 2017.

The government said the Midlands Engine Strategy builds on the industrial strategy launched in January. It offered additional support for businesses through sector deals.

The Midlands Engine Strategy will see £392 million invested in the region from the Local Growth Fund. The money is expected to support a number of projects, including a global hub for space technology in Leicester. Congestion and improvement in employment sites in the Black County will be tackled through a £25 million investment, while £12 million will be spent on improving road connections around Loughborough.

An additional £4 million has been committed by the government to support the operation of the Midlands Engine Partnership – bringing together local enterprise partnerships, local authorities, businesses and academic institutions – over the next two years.

Other investments set out in the strategy include:

•    £12 million “to unlock commercial and housing development and improve superfast broadband infrastructure” in Coventry and Warwickshire.
•    £10 million to refurbish Broadmarsh bus station and car park. This investment will provide a new tram stop, and deliver a new retail area in Nottingham city centre.
•    £6 million to catalyse the regeneration of Derby City Centre.
•    £16.7 million will be invested in the Burton Upon Trent Flood Alleviation Scheme, better protecting more than 4,000 properties.

The strategy states that the Homes and Communities Agency will work with Midlands Engine partners to develop a clear, prioritised schedule of publicly owned sites for redevelopment. This work will conclude by the end of 2017.

Additionally, the government says it will use the Local Growth Fund allocations to unlock housing development and promote culture across the region. This is set to include:

•    £12 million to develop a new garden city in the Black Country.
•    £5 million to transform Redditch Town Centre. This will support the development of new homes, and unlock commercial activity.
•    £8 million to regenerate town centres across Nottinghamshire, and redevelop Nottingham Castle.
•    £2 million to improve cultural infrastructure in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Hammond said: “The Midlands has enormous economic potential and it is more important than ever that we now build on its existing strengths to make sure it fulfils it.”

He said the Midlands Engine Strategy is an “important milestone,” setting out the concrete actions the government is taking, “where we are not only investing in what it does well but also tackling some of the long-standing productivity barriers in the region including skills and connectivity”.

Midlands Connect launches transport strategy

The government is also welcoming today the strategy being published by Midlands Connect and has already confirmed £17 million of funding to develop its proposals, which include the potential for up to 10 additional trains an hour into central Birmingham.

Midlands Connect said its strategy outlines the region’s vision to become an engine for growth through investment in transport infrastructure for this generation and the next.

Midlands Connect strategy: Powering the Midlands Engine can be found here.

Communities secretary and Midlands Engine ministerial champion Sajid Javid said: “Backed by millions in investment, this new strategy will help create more jobs and boost skills in the region. It will also showcase to investors here and abroad everything the Midlands Engine has to offer.”

Midlands Engine Partnership chairman Sir John Peace said the strategy “represents a clear footprint” for the Midlands Engine empowering it to think bigger, and work even closer together, across local economies and on a scale that makes sense in global markets.

“Later this year, we will respond to the government’s strategy by publishing an ambitious vision and action plan so we, together with government, succeed in unlocking the Midlands’ great potential,” added Peace.

James Harris, policy and networks manager at the RTPI, told The Planner: “Our 2015 paper on Strategic Planning called for new ways to drive cooperation across and between city-regions, in order to tackle big challenges like productivity and inclusive growth.

“The Midlands Engine Strategy is a step in this direction, but must now be used as an opportunity to coordinate the spatial impact of the growth plans and infrastructure investments across the region. Planners can play a critical role by identifying how these investments can unlock sites for housing and employment, connect with a long-term regional transport strategy, and support wider social and environmental objectives.”

The Midlands Engine Strategy can be found here.

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