The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership today agreed a historic Growth Deal with the Government. The Deal has confirmed Government investment of £35 million in 2015-16, with approval for 14 of 16 projects submitted in the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan. 13 projects will commence in 2015-16 and there is provisional funding for two more projects in 2016-17.
As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the Black Country LEP, it has provided an indicative award of a further £103 million of funding from 2016-17.
From 2015-21, the Growth Deal will create up to:
• 6,000 new jobs
• Over 1,000 new homes
• 3,200 additional businesses helped to grow
• 7,000 additional learners supported to develop skills needed by businesses
Stewart Towe, Black Country LEP Chair, said, "Our Growth Deal demonstrates confidence in the Black Country’s bright economic future. We are delighted to have approval for 14 of our proposed 16 projects, with 13 commencing in 2015-16 and provisional funding for two more in 2016-17, including an additional £7.6 million capital investment accelerated to create an Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills.
"The Deal’s indicative investment of £138 million over five years is the result of the Black Country LEP’s strong partnership between local authorities, business and education producing an evidence-based, realistic plan for growth. We look forward to the Deal's new flexibility to manage how the projects are implemented to increase economic benefits. We are confident the Deal will increase our competitive capability and increase the products made in the Black Country and sold around the world.”
Councillor Darren Cooper, Chair of the Black Country Joint Committee, LEP Board Member and Leader of Sandwell Council, said, "The success of the Growth Deal is a great endorsement of our Black Country partnership arrangements and the strength of the projects we submitted.
"We look forward in the next five years to creating over 6,000 jobs, 1,000 housing units being completed and over 100,000 square metres of new or refurbished commercial floor-space occupied by businesses. We will track our delivery progress and implement shared resources and intelligence at an operational level through a ‘Team Black Country’ approach."
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, "Growth Deals are a crucial part of our long-term plan to secure Britain’s future. For too long, our economy has been too London-focused and too centralised. Growth Deals will help change all that. They are about firing up our great towns and cities, boosting local economies and driving growth across the country.
"This historic deal means real change with exciting plans for the Black Country, including better transport links for both road and rail, building hundreds more homes and helping to give people the skills they need to get on and the local economy the workforce it needs to prosper.
"By trusting local people, backing business and investing in infrastructure, skills and housing, we can create thousands of new jobs. And that means more economic security, peace of mind and a brighter future for hardworking people in the West Midlands.”
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said, "The Black Country Growth Deal will help to create thousands of jobs, provide incredible new training opportunities for young people, allow thousands of new homes to be built, and improve transport links across the country for people and their families; building a stronger economy and a fairer society.
"We’re placing the power and money in the hands of people in the Black Country who know how to spend it best, making a real difference to local communities.”
The Black Country Growth Deal Projects
Developing a supply chain fit to supply businesses:
1. Access to Finance, strengthens the capacity of Black Country businesses to take advantage of new market opportunities. Will provide Access to Finance via the Regional Growth Fund to grow Priority Sectors via capital investment in plant, machinery and property. A £6m fund will be available over three years, leveraging in over £17m of private sector investment and generating 600 jobs.
2. Wolverhampton Science Park new Science, Technology and Prototype Centre, enhances the capacity of Black Country businesses to innovate and exploit new opportunities. A £10m centre at Wolverhampton Science Park to provide 2,839 sq metres of high quality managed office space and laboratory/testing space to facilitate prototype and R&D activity. Demand established in Science Park expansion study.
Additional capacity providing skills for the supply chain:
1. Advanced Science, Engineering and Technology Skills Centre, Coombs Wood Business Park, Halesowen - £3m investment in a 1,300 sq metre centre, providing 250 higher level apprenticeships in IT, laboratory technician, electrical engineering and business/accounts to meet the needs of employers. The new centre will work with a range of leading companies including Exova, Eurofins Scientific and Sterling Power Group, who will provide the practical training facilities.
2. Dudley Advance Centre for Advanced Building Technologies & Construction - centre comprising approximately 4,427 sq metres of new teaching and workshop facilities to complete the £48m investment in Dudley Advance. Leading in Building Information Modelling, the centre will upskill over 3,250 people in the first five years and ensure the sector is ready for the opportunities from High Speed 2. There is strong business backing form companies including Carillion, Stepnell, Skanska and Interserve.
3. Investment in a range of high tech high value manufacturing capital equipment – to meet current gaps in the facilities available and the skills needs identified by businesses. Equipment includes creation of a ‘Fab Lab’ in West Bromwich to turn ideas into new products and prototypes. Two training providers in Walsall, Incomm and PTP will provide CNC machines and the training required by businesses.
Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills - recognising the significance of the Black Country as a centre for manufacturing. There is a provisional allocation of £7.6m in 2016-17 for the development of this project. A feasibility study will be managed through the Black Country Skills Factory working with manufacturing employers and training providers.
Sites for Growth:
1. Goscote Lane Corridor regeneration area, investing £28m in a transformational programme to bring forward a residential development of 735 houses on three related vacant brownfield sites, totalling 21 hectares, within the Goscote Lane Corridor regeneration area in Blakenall, Walsall. There is evidence of strong market interest.
2. Bilston Urban Village site - working with the HCA and Wolverhampton City Council, which have committed investment to provide further infrastructure and services and remediation to facilitate the release of further viable residential and employment development sites including 580 houses.
3. Bentley Lane, Walsall remediation project - creating 11 hectares of high quality employment land, in a key industrial development location to undertake site remediation works and off site road improvements to bring in £40m of private sector development from a known developer planning significant business expansion. The net development area is around 400,000 sq ft and will create 245 jobs.
Woods Lane, Cradley Heath - £5m LGF investment to enable a new road junction to access a development site for 247 homes. This project will leverage in £30m of private sector funding, regenerate 9.43 hectares of poor quality industrial land and improve 0.6km of the River Stour Corridor.
Cultural capital, a £6.6m investment supporting a £13m investment to transform Wolverhampton city centre. A major refurbishment and extension of the Civic Halls, coupled with adaptations to the Grand Theatre. The project will address the barriers to the growth and viability for both of these key venues. The Civic Halls are unique, national recognised venues in the cultural and creative sector. This project enhances the wider Black Country offer.
The transport funding proposed for 2015-16 will cover the following:
1. Improving Junction 10 of the M6, a major congestion-busting scheme, by building new wider bridges over the motorway that will increase the capacity of the circulatory carriageway and allow the junction to operate efficiently. This will improve both national traffic flows (on and off the motorway) and local flows (on adjacent main roads). This improvement is also key to the development of the Darlaston Black Country Enterprise Zone sites and two regeneration corridors.
2. Wolverhampton Interchange - The project will provide a fully integrated multi-modal transport hub, deliver new commercial floor space for high value jobs and improve the strategic Gateway to Wolverhampton, the wider Black Country, Birmingham and HS2. A new rail station building will be constructed and the multi-storey car park refurbished and extended.
3. Managing short trips - this programme encompasses a range of improvements, which include innovative ‘Interconnect’ way-finding and signage, supported by physical walking and cycling routes across the Black Country to form an attractive Active Travel Network.
4. Access to Growth - a fund designed to help deliver smaller schemes (above £500,000 but less than £5,000,000) that improve access to employment sites and strategic centres. Schemes include highway efficiency improvements, sustainable transport, and interchange improvements.
As part of the Growth Deal, having demonstrated strong partnership arrangements to deliver collective decisions with strong financial monitoring procedures and cross local authority collaboration, the Black Country LEP has been granted local flexibility over the management of the projects in order to deliver the greatest economic benefits to the area.
Examples of this increased flexibility include:
• The Government confirms up to £15 million will be made available to the Black Country in 2014-15 and 2015-16 at the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) project rate discount of 40 basis points below the standard PWLB rate. This will support strategic infrastructure investment to enable increased housing development in projects that form part of the overall Growth Deal package.
• Businesses will be able to influence skills provision by FE providers, who will be required through their funding agreements with the Skills Funding Agency to explain to LEPs details of their provision and planning and how they can be responsive to local economic priorities.
• The Environment Agency, Natural England and Forestry Commission will work collaboratively with the Black Country LEP in accordance with the Defra Network offer and will negotiate with the LEP to provide appropriate support, advice and data in bringing sites and programmes forward. This recognises the Black Country’s unique location as the conjunction of the two water tables for England.
For more details of Growth Deal projects, view or download the Black Country Growth Deal document below:
Map of Key Projects (click image to download in PDF format):