Communities Secretary Eric Pickles visited Cambridgeshire and Suffolk and saw how local businesses and civic leaders are using government funding to help boost local development and deliver the government’s drive for growth.
While on the tour of the local area, Mr Pickles visited an enterprise zone, a previously stalled housing site and a high-tech research park to see the effects of government investment delivered with a localist approach.
Mr Pickles began the day by opening a new training centre in the Alconbury enterprise zone, a former airfield and brownfield site.
This new training centre will train hundreds of local people to further develop the site. Over the course of the development period, the enterprise zone will create in excess of 8,000 jobs in high-tech research, development and manufacturing. The site owners, Urban&Civic are working with JobCentre Plus, the local authority and local further education colleges to establish a jobs and skills ‘hub’ which will support local people into work with additional contractors and companies coming to the site.
The enterprise zone has already delivered a simplified planning process that turned around consent for the marquee “incubator” building in just 36 days and using its business rate benefits has attracted high-tech research and development firm Enval to the area.
Uniquely, the zone will be rolled out alongside a wider residential development which could include 5,000 new homes, public transport infrastructure including guided busways and cycle networks; energy, water and waste infrastructure; community facilities including schools and a health centre; and 700 acres of landscaped green space with over half a million trees planted.
During his tour, he also visited the site of the Northstowe new town which will eventually provide around 10,000 new homes. Planning permission was recently given for the first phase, which would see the development of 1,500 new homes. Mr Pickles reaffirmed the government’s commitment to continuing to work with local partners to accelerate delivery and remove barriers to the establishment of this high quality new town. By unblocking the site, the government has given a vital boost to local job creation.
Mr Pickles also paid a visit to the Haverhill Research Park and saw how the New Anglia and Greater Cambridgeshire Great Peterborough local enterprise partnerships have contributed £2 million each from the government’s Growing Places Fund. The funding will enable the provision of infrastructure and site works to open up a 29.5 acre site that will create 350 homes, employment space, a hotel and leisure facilities which will establish 2000 new jobs.
Mr Pickles said:
“Local enterprise partnerships are unlocking much-needed local growth and providing strong local incentives for companies looking to invest. Using enterprise zones - like the one in Alconbury - and the Growing Places Fund, civic leaders and businesses are helping to create jobs, homes and leisure facilities that people need.
“There is huge potential in sites like Northstowe to boost local economies and we simply cannot afford to have them lying idle because of earlier agreements that are no longer viable. Britain is in a global race today with rising nations like China and Brazil. Countries like ours will only be able to compete if we make it easier for businesses to invest and quicker for infrastructure to get built.”