Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced details of public infrastructure projects being awarded a major slice of its £3.8million in government funds to help kick start local development schemes.
Under the government’s Growing Places Fund, the LEP Board has approved loans – subject to due diligence – for ‘shovel ready’ schemes in Worcester, Kidderminster and Pershore, where construction could start as early as the summer.
Initially, at least 500 jobs could be created in the short term as a result of the funding, and many more are expected to follow.
The first four projects to be allocated support are Hoo Brook Link Road, Kidderminster; University Park, Worcester; Worcestershire County Cricket Club and Springhill Farms, near Pershore.
In South Kidderminster, £1.2million in WLEP support will help spearhead progress of the first phase of an enterprise park, by funding the prime access route known as Hoo Brook Link Road.
This will open up 24 hectares of redevelopment land on the former British Sugar factory site, where the employment element could create up to 450 jobs.
WLEP finance of £1million will also help bring forward the first phase development of the proposed 47-acre University Park in Worcester, where plans for enterprise, science and wellbeing campuses were approved by planners last week.
This means construction of a community health centre and doctors’ surgery can now go ahead with money to help install infrastructure to the site, which ultimately could employ over 2,000 people.
The LEP board has also approved £750,000 funding to Worcestershire County Cricket Club to speed up its £10million redevelopment plans. Money will be used to aid construction of improved access and infrastructure to a new 120-bedroom hotel and to the club’s new hospitality, conferencing, administration and spectator facilities, which received planning approval last week.
In Pershore, Springhill Farms has secured £275,000 for the development of a new road traffic island on A44 to enable the construction of a £5million anaerobic digestion plant. This plant will use green waste from the company’s growing processes to generate energy and heat for the adjacent commercial glasshouses, which in turn will be extended, thus safeguarding and creating new jobs.
An additional £575,000 in finance has been held back for subsequent schemes still under consideration or which may emerge in the months ahead.
Growing Places funding is awarded to developments where infrastructure and site constraints can be addressed to unlock jobs or housing potential.
Projects had to be prioritised in terms of which would deliver the greatest economic impact in the short term, explained Worcestershire LEP executive chairman Peter Pawsey.
“We carried out an extensive exercise with our public and private sector partners to identify value-for-money schemes which already had detailed plans developed and were ‘shovel ready,’ so that funds have an immediate benefit.
“Funds are allocated as a ‘revolving loan,’ so it was vital that projects could provide returns which can be reinvested in future development. The grant offers are subject to due diligence.
“It was also essential that applications could support Worcestershire LEP’s business ambitions to stimulate the region’s economy and maximise the value of our natural and economic assets in an environmentally sustainable way.”
Worcestershire LEP is led by private sector businesses in partnership with the public sector – comprising Worcestershire County Council and the six district councils of Worcester City, Bromsgrove, Redditch, Malvern Hills, Wyre Forest and Wychavon.
Its task is to shape the best business environment for the county, stimulate growth of the local economy, encourage inward investment, boost enterprise and job creation, and actively promote Worcestershire as a great place to live, invest in and work.