Two Thurrock projects to receive share of £85 million to support economic recovery and create over 9,000 new jobs

THE final list of 34 projects that will receive funding from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP)£85 million share of the Government’s new Getting Building Fund has been announced.  

The projects include:

Grays Shopping Centre: Upgrade of electrical infrastructure to support redesign of shopping centre, improving resilience of retail offer and facilitating provision of new homes. 

Transport & Logistics Institute Grays: Provision of educational facilities which will enable improved transport and logistics learning to young people seeking employment in this growing sector in Thurrock and the wider Thames Estuary area.

The new projects will deliver 9,167 new jobs and safeguard a further 3,341. There will be 7,234 new homes unlocked, over 50,000sq m in new commercial space unlocked and 8,663 new learners assisted through new skills facilities and programmes.

Ranging from a new rail station in East Kent, new skills and training hub in Newhaven, bringing greater connectivity to rural areas, a new solar farm to power up the railways in East Sussex and new cycle network infrastructure in Essex, these 34 projects will start quickly, and help catalyse economic recovery and renewal across East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock.

Government’s new £900 million Getting Building Fund has been created to invest in local infrastructure projects to drive economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. With an £85 million share, SELEP successfully secured the largest allocation for any LEP area in the UK. The fund’s final project list was announced by Government alongside a further £360 million investment to deliver 26,000 new homes on brownfield land.

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“As we get Britain building we are also laying the foundations for a green economic recovery by investing in vital infrastructure for local communities, creating jobs and building environmentally friendly homes with a huge £1.3 billion investment announced today.

“This Government is determined to level up all parts of the country and this funding will not only give a much-needed boost to our economic recovery, it will help build the good quality, affordable homes the country needs.”

In mid-July, SELEP Directors met to review and narrow down the previously submitted longlist by focusing on projects that can progress quickly but will also stimulate and better integrate economies in some of the most economically impacted and COVID-affected parts of the South East. People in coastal areas and market towns will see their town centres enhanced, with old or disused buildings brought back to life. There will be 2,183 created in the construction sector. New business and educational spaces will provide 50,813sq m of new grow-on and commercial space. There will be new skills infrastructure, 9,128sq m of new learning space and 8,663 new learners to be assisted. This will mean existing and new, growing sectors – innovative green technologies, manufacturing, transport and logistics, housing, cultural and creative – can thrive. Much-needed investment in broadband rollout will stimulate economic activity in rural and more remote areas.

Projects on the final list cover a wide range of areas in need of support including digital capabilities so companies can adapt; COVID-secure workspaces for businesses; skills development to help workers either retrain for a new industry or further develop skills; and the clean growth agenda. The impetus given to these ensure that sites are unlocked and that the creation of new jobs is stimulated across the whole of the area. 

As an example, some projects set to receive a share of the £85 million include:

  • Accelerating full-fibre broadband to rural and hard to reach premises in Essex;
  • Romney Marsh Employment Hub: the second stage of a project that provides infrastructure to services and brings forward the remaining five hectares of employment land in Folkestone and Hythe, creating 480 new jobs;
  • Britton Farm Redevelopment Learning Skills and Employment Hub: an innovative adult learning and skills hub in Medway;
  • Thanet Parkway station: the delivery of a new railway station in East Kent to improve connectivity to these coastal communities;
  • Swan Housing: a new facility for a modular housing factory in Basildon, to support the fast pace of housing construction to meet pressing demand;
  • UTC Maritime and Sustainable Technology Hub: the creation of an education-led skills training centre with commercial workspace for SMEs specialising in the marine sector, located in Lewes; and
  • The Observer Building, Hastings: the restoration of a local landmark including four floors of leisure, retail, offices, studios and community space.

There are also several projects that will accelerate and extend the rollout of full-fibre broadband across Essex, Kent and Medway to provide greater connectivity to some of the most rural regions across the SELEP area. The full list of projects can be found here

South East LEP Chair, Christian Brodie said:

“We are delighted that government has recognised the excellent projects and potential that the South East has to drive forward our economy at this challenging time. These projects have been carefully selected to target those areas and industries particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and those that can progress, at pace, to support economic recovery. The South East LEP has a proven track record of delivering successful projects and has been working really closely with our local areas to understand what our businesses need and where investment will have significant impact. 

“Over the last few months, we as a LEP have been providing support to local businesses. Our Growth Hubs have been providing advice to struggling businesses and directing businesses to funding support. We have also been reworking our own existing funding pots to create new COVID-19 funds for businesses, infrastructure investment and skills training.

“We truly believe that the South East will help lead the country out of the crisis and into recovery. The Getting Building Fund provides the next phase of financial stimulus to restart our economy.”

Chair of the LEP Network, Mark Bretton said:

“As business led partnerships with a ready-made pipeline of projects, LEPs responded swiftly to the Prime Minister’s call for infrastructure projects with more available when Government is ready.  

“LEPs’ ‘can do’ business attitude has created a proven track record of complex delivery, landing projects at scale, on time and to budget. The foundations they are building for local recovery in their Five Point Plan will underpin our national recovery.”

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