Nick Abell Interim Chair At The CWLEP

Nick Abell - interim chair at the CWLEP

The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has agreed its priority list of infrastructure projects to receive government funding as part of the Getting Building Fund.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has received up to £66m through the UK Government’s scheme to invest in local infrastructure projects that are ready to be built immediately, to drive economic growth following the coronavirus pandemic. 

The CWLEP, along with Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the Black Country LEP, the WMCA and the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, have agreed a single prioritised list of projects to be funded from the WMCA’s national allocation, which has been sent to the government.

Since Warwickshire is not a constituent member of the WMCA, the CWLEP has also prepared a prioritised list for the county for the separate £8.1m it has been given.

The CWLEP considered 20 ‘shovel ready’ projects which have now been reduced to six schemes in Coventry and could lead to long-term investment and growth.

The CWLEP Warwickshire Projects Review Panel considered 21 projects totalling £21.6m which have been whittled down to a final list of eight Warwickshire projects totalling £8.1m.

The Warwickshire projects which have been submitted are:

  • Supporting a large-scale green development in Stratford-upon-Avon, an ambitious cycling infrastructure investment across Warwickshire and innovation in future mobility through Very Light Rail
  • Town and city centre modernisation through investment in housing, cultural assets, health and care provision, repurposing of commercial, retail and leisure space in Coventry, Rugby, Nuneaton, Royal Leamington Spa and Stratford-Upon-Avon
  • Improvements through investment in skills across construction, digital, creative and hospitality sectors
  • Digital connectivity will be improved through further investment in 5G testbed

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, CWLEP board Director and Chair of its Transport and Infrastructure Business Group, as well as Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “We have a number of really good schemes ready to go in Coventry including additional investment into St Mary’s Guildhall, a real gem, much loved but underused, and Very Light Rail which will help us drive the green industrial revolution. It’s important we get on with them as soon as possible to help the city bounce back and to help kickstart the economy.

“The last few months have been very challenging, but our bid is very strong and I hope we are able to secure the cash we need to help ensure a steady recovery.

“We are also hoping to secure £1m to boost 5G in the city – this will help to support businesses and residents who rely on fast connection speed.”

Nick Abell, Interim Chair at the CWLEP, said the government funding from the Getting Building Fund was not guaranteed but a wide selection of schemes had been identified which met the criteria.

“The projects in Coventry and Warwickshire need to be underway within 18 months as part of the government’s plan to rebuild the economy post-COVID-19,” he said.

“As well as creating and safeguarding 5,500 jobs and improving skills and infrastructure, these schemes will lead the economic recovery planning in our region.

“There was a wide selection of innovative projects put forward of all sizes in Coventry and Warwickshire and we now wait to find out which have been successful.  

“It is also important we maintain a pipeline of projects so that we are ready to put them forward for consideration should further funding become available later in the year.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “At a difficult time for the West Midlands’ economy brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it is great to see the government putting further cash on the table to help aid our recovery.

“This £66m from the Getting Britain Fund will go towards exciting, shovel-ready, projects across the region that will make an immediate difference by helping to create and secure local jobs for local people. In Coventry, it is great to see more money going towards Coventry City of Culture 2021. The WMCA is already the scheme’s biggest funder, and it is a phenomenal opportunity – alongside the Commonwealth Games the following year – to showcase our region on the global stage and help re-boot the economy.

“As well as an immediate investment to help our local economy, the money provided by the fund is also an investment in our future, to secure the West Midlands’ place as a global leader in green and clean technology, life sciences, transport of the future, and construction.

“This announcement is just one part of our much bigger plans to reset, recharge and rebuild the West Midlands economy by investing in the future and retaining current jobs and creating new ones.”

Kate Shaw
Article by Kate Shaw
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