LEEDS is to enjoy a major slice of a new £415m Government cash pot designed to back business, boost high streets, create jobs and help local economies thrive.
The funding, announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, will see more than £8.5m pumped into Leeds’s ambitious Aire Valley Enterprise Zone plans, helping pay for remediation and infrastructure work on the wide .
It is hoped the latest investment boost will help attract major manufacturing firms to the region, creating 630 new jobs and delivering over 33,000sqm of new commercial floorspace in the long term.
The city will also see a share of £15m which has been set aside to establish new University Enterprise Zones in the eight main UK cities, including Leeds and Sheffield.
Roger Marsh, chair of the the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “We’re delighted to have secured this significant capital grant, which will enable us to take an important step forward in unlocking the potential of the Aire Valley Leeds enterprise zone to create thousands of jobs over the next decade, leverage millions of pounds of additional private investment and provide a focus for inward investment and employment creation across the City Region. This is another example of central government placing meaningful investment in local hands to boost the region’s diverse economy and help us play our full role in driving national growth.”
Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for development and economy, also welcomed the “tremendous news”. “The council has taken the lead in working proactively with private sector developers and Government to build momentum, accelerate development within the enterprise zone and drive economic growth,” he said.
Councillor Andrew Carter, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Leeds council, added: “With the economy now on the mend and with clear signs of growth and increasing employment, this kind of investment is exactly what this city needs. Not only will we see jobs directly provided but we will also see land cleared and made available for the long term location of new companies and new sectors in Leeds. This investment will enhance economic recovery in Leeds by providing a significant jobs boost in those areas most in need. It is great news for Leeds and shows, once again, that the Government will invest and back growth in Leeds and the North of England.”
Covering 142 hectares of prime development land, the Aire Valley Enterprise Zone could eventually generate up to 9,500 new jobs by 2025, it is hoped. A new recycling and energy recovery facility is already under construction and will be operational by spring 2016.
The national £415m fund includes £100m to support critical business infrastructure in Enterprise Zones across the country, and £300m to give 300,000 small retail firms £1,000 off their next tax bill.
Mr Pickles said: “As part of our long-term economic plan, we are backing business and enterprise right across the country, helping town centres and local industries to prosper, and building a stronger economy.
“This money for infrastructure will transform acres of Enterprise Zone land and build a stronger, more competitive business environment that will create up to 3,000 jobs for hardworking people across the country.”