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28.09.15

Councils to benefit from £24bn regeneration projects across the north

Chancellor George Osborne and seven council leaders have announced a £24bn investment as part of the government’s ‘Northern Pitchbook’, designed to build and improve infrastructure and encourage regeneration projects across the north.

Council leaders – including Michael Jones from Cheshire East Council, Joe Anderson from Liverpool, Julie Dore from Sheffield City Council, Judith Blake from Leeds City Council, Sir Richard Leese from Manchester City Council, Sean Anstee from Trafford Council and Nick Forbes from Newcastle City Council – joined the chancellor during his visit to China to unveil the latest plans for the Northern Powerhouse.

These include the Atlantic Gateway, a proposed redevelopment strategy that will connect the Port of Liverpool to the city of Manchester. The development poses a £75bn opportunity to create a low-carbon economic growth zone through urban regeneration, real estate, renewable energy and transport.

Projects linked to the Atlantic Gateway include Wirral Waters, a waterfront regeneration of 800 acres of docklands forming the largest project of its kind in the UK (and for which planning permission has already been granted), and Liverpool Waters, a £5.5bn scheme to develop the city’s dockland site to create a mixed use, high-quality waterfront quarter in the city centre, which has also obtained planning permission.

The Atlantic Gateway scheme will be phased over 20 years with the support of developer Peel Holdings and will be backed by cash from co-investors.

Osborne also plans to start building Manchester Place in the second quarter of 2016. The council-driven project will deliver “three new zones of more than 10,000 homes” with a combined value of £3bn. This will be mirrored by a £480m Sheffield Retail Quarter intended to create more homes and offices in the heart of the city.

Leeds would also see a £1.5bn council-backed regeneration scheme that would cover more than 130 hectares in the city centre, as well as a £200m ‘East Leeds Extension’ to create high-quality residential neighbourhoods on allocated greenhouse housing land.

The leaders present showcased the pitchbook at the Chinese city of Chengdu in an effort to draw in support from Chinese investors.

Osborne said: “From Liverpool to Newcastle, we are opening up our doors to investment that will not only help us to grow and create jobs, but will allow us to build infrastructure to rival any region in the world.

“The north of England is already a magnet for foreign investment into the country and we’ve seen with announcements from Nissan and Hitachi into the north east recently highlighting how perfectly poised our Northern Powerhouse is to attract the eye of global companies.”

The council leaders were pleased with the potential partnership and opportunity to further the UK’s relations with China – especially in Leeds, whose partner city is Hangzhou.

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Visiting China with other council leaders from across the north has enabled us to build on our existing strong relations with Leeds’ partner city of Hangzhou and to meet potential new partners for trade and investment.

“Bringing investment into our major regeneration and transport schemes across the north will deliver a long overdue boost to the economy providing many much needed job opportunities.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, added: “The involvement of Beijing construction and engineering group at Airport City Manchester, and in a major development in the city centre, shows that there is an open door for Chinese builders in the north.

“There is now an enormous opportunity to work with us on the massive investment in infrastructure we expect to see over the next decade.”

Cllr Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East, said funding from China can be “a game changer” in unlocking land and infrastructure value across the north, while Cllr Nick Forbes of Newcastle noted that the north east region is integral to the national manufacturing base.

During his visit to China, Osborne also opened the bidding process of the first phase of the High Speed 2 rail project, set to “rebalance the economy” in the north by unlocking commercial opportunities along the London-Birmingham route.

Council leaders will have the opportunity to meet with Chinese investors to show them local station sites ahead of contract bids.

A series of other planned investments are enclosed in the government’s Northern Pitchbook.

(Top image of Liverpool waterfront, c. Declan McAleese, Flickr)

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