Over 100 million secured for county through GFirst LEP

Further investment is set to be poured into the county, as GFirst LEP heard today that they have secured £29.13 million in the third round of Growth Deal funding, taking the total to over £100 million.

Dr Diane Savory OBE chairs the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Board of Directors. She commented: “We are thrilled to receive £29.13 million from Government in the recent Growth Deal 3 allocations. Receiving this amount within such a highly competitive process is a brilliant result, now enabling us to deliver the top three priorities within the submission, and meaning GFirst LEP have smashed the £100 million Growth Deal total allocation, at £106.63 million.

The LEP team and project promoters put so much time and effort into these submissions, and it has really paid off with Government having a great deal of faith in our vision for Gloucestershire. We have been able to demonstrate a superb performance so far by boosting growth locally, and leveraging further private and public investment in a number of Growth Deal projects.”

In a competitive process between all 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England, GFirst LEP submitted a strong bid to Government in the summer, outlining its priority list for the county, and was rewarded with the top three priority projects being funded - Infrastructure for a new Cyber Business Park in Cheltenham, improvements to traffic flow and release of land for housing at Longford, and investment for a brand new Further Education campus in the Forest of Dean.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, LEP board member and leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “To have our top three projects get the go ahead for funding is fantastic. It builds on our strong track record of securing investment in the county and is another impressive example of what can be achieved when we work together."

What are the projects that have been funded?

Longford Housing - £4.53 million

This project is to build a new roundabout on the A40 north of Gloucester, between Elmbridge and Longford, upgrade Longford roundabout and build a link road into site SA1 in the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) Submission (November 2014) in order to release land for housing and commercial development.

The JCS and recent inspectors report have confirmed that this area is essential for the strategic allocation of housing and employment land and this investment will unlock the site for development, as well as providing increased capacity for the local road network and the strategic route west along the A40.

There are 3 elements to the project:

• A new junction onto the A40 Gloucester Northern Bypass

• A link road to the site from the new junction

• Capacity improvements at the Longford roundabout


Cyber Business Park – £22 million

A unique opportunity to create a cyber business park on 45ha of land next to the Government  Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ), delivering a highly accessible ‘honeypot’ for the cyber security and high tech supply chain to locate alongside the national cyber innovation centre. Cheltenham is a national centre of expertise in cyber security, the home of GCHQ, and hosts an established financial services sector which places cyber security as a very high priority. In Autumn 2015, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer visited Cheltenham and announced the creation of the national cyber innovation centre, one of two in the country that would capitalise on the high intensity of cyber specialists within and associated with GCHQ.


Gloucestershire College Forest of Dean Campus - £2.6 million

This project requires a £2.6m investment to cover a shortfall in total funding of £14.8m to build a brand new Further Education (FE) college campus in the Forest of Dean (FOD) to enhance and extend FE provision in the area.

The current college site is nearing the end of its economic life and without this investment FE provision may not be possible in the FOD. The current poor skills base in the area is a barrier to investment and Cinderford, where the new campus will be located, is one of the most deprived wards in Gloucestershire.

The Gloucestershire College Forest of Dean Campus will impact the Forest of Dean positively in terms of both local skills development and regeneration.

Matt Burgess, Principal of Gloucestershire College, said: “We were delighted to receive the news that our bid to build a new College in the Northern Quarter has been successful.  The funding from the LEP represents the last element of the finance required to enable this important project to happen.

The new College would be the anchor tenant in the Northern Quarter regeneration scheme.  It will provide a state of the art learning environment and secure the future of Further Education in the Forest of Dean.  The College will help to raise aspirations and skills levels as well as providing valuable investment in the area.  The scheme will also unlock the Five Acres site for potential development.”

Mike Dawson is Chief Executive of Tewkesbury Borough Council, project promoters for Longford Housing. Mike said: “The award of the grant funding is excellent news for the Longford Housing project. The addition of a new junction on the A40 Gloucester Northern bypass and capacity improvements to the Longford roundabout are essential to delivering economic growth by unlocking housing and commercial development on strategic sites within the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury  Joint Core Strategy as well as supporting the wider strategic road network west along the A40.

The success of this bid indicates Government support for our approach to strategic planning with the collaboration between Gloucester City, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Councils in bringing forward infrastructure and growth.”

Councillor Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “The proposed West Cheltenham development of a cyber zone is of both national and local importance and I am delighted that this had been recognised though the award of Growth Deal funding. The funding will be vital in putting in place the essential infrastructure to enable this development to integrate into the existing local community.”

Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham said: “This really is fantastic news. The Cyber Innovation Centre is a unique opportunity for Cheltenham. The cyber sector is already worth £20 billion to the UK each year. A dedicated Cyber Park site, supported by civilian start-ups and supply businesses, will put Cheltenham at the heart of the country’s cyber-economy and be a huge boost for local jobs and investment.”

“We needed the Government’s support to make the cyber vision fulfil its potential. I’ve been lobbying Ministers behind the scenes and championing this project since before my election. I believe we set out a great case. I’m delighted that both Sajid Javid and Philip Hammond have given Cheltenham such positive support.  This is a vote of confidence in Cheltenham's future.''

In March 2014, GFirst LEP published its Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) for Gloucestershire, which set out an ambitious business plan for achieving economic growth, and how we would deliver a focused programme of projects across the County. We were delighted with Government’s very positive response to this, and to receive all the Growth Deal funding we asked for in our SEP, as well as further additional funding in the ‘top up’ round that followed.

David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP said: “This round of Growth Deals has been the most competitive yet; more than three times over-subscribed with high-quality proposals.  We’re really pleased with our allocation – based on previous rounds we could have expected £16 million. Our per-capita rate is up there with big cities like Manchester and Liverpool, demonstrating the strength of the case made, our performance to date and the links to local and national priorities.

Government reviewed our portfolio, and decided on an allocation that would enable us to deliver the top three prioritised projects in our submission. This means that our total Growth Deal allocation has now topped £100m, at £106.63m. I’d like to thank our partners for all their hard work in getting their submissions to us and the LEP team for their contributions.”

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