Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Swindon on 18 December to meet civic and business leaders from Swindon and Wiltshire and sign a historic Growth Deal with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Board which will bring over £129 million of investment to the region.
The deal will help to create up to 1,500 jobs, allow up to 2,000 homes to be built by 2021 and generate up to £70 million in public and private investment.
Almost £13 million has been confirmed in the first year, and on-going commitment from the government will see over £116 million of funding delivered from 2016/17 onwards. Almost £95 million of the total will be invested in the Swindon area, the highest investment of its kind per head of population in England.
The Deputy Prime Minister visited the Wichelstowe housing development in South Swindon, was shown the new Waitrose store which is the centre piece of the commercial area of the site and signed the agreement at Wichelstowe Community Centre.
Mr Clegg, right, said: “I’m delighted to be finalising this historic deal bringing real change to Swindon and Wiltshire. This significant Growth Deal will enable a whole host of jobs to be created, see scores of homes built and transport improved. All of this is a major boost to the economy in the South West.
“Growth Deals are about local areas leading their own growth, giving more power to people in the regions so we work together to build a strong economy and a fairer society.”
The key features of the deal are:
A package of road schemes around the Eastern Villages development – a new urban expansion to the east of Swindon;
Speeding up the delivery of 8,000 new homes by 2026 to meet local housing needs;
A new science park at Porton Down, which will provide facilities for research, development and advanced skills training for companies specialising in life sciences and healthcare.
A range of transport schemes to help people and goods move more easily around Swindon and Wiltshire’s key growth zones, including Wichelstowe.
The Swindon and Wiltshire Growth Deal is part of a £12 billion long-term programme to revitalise local economies. The deals are the latest example of the British economy being rebuilt from the bottom up, and sharing the benefits of the recovery around the country. Local businesses and council leaders have been invited to open discussions immediately on the next set of projects to be funded, building on the momentum that has been established.
James Phipps, CEO of Swindon company Excalibur Communications welcomed the signatures on the investment. He said: “After spending the last few years on the LEP board, I understand the volume of work that has gone into this Growth Deal and welcome the fact Swindon and Wiltshire LEP is one of the most successful in the UK per capita in their award.
“This investment is significant for the area and it’s economic development and will really help unlock job opportunities and housing which is crucial to the local area.”
Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard said partnership between Swindon and Wiltshire and the local business community was crucial in assembling the successful application to secure the Growth Deal funding. “I’m delighted that the Deputy Prime Minister came to Wichelstowe to sign the agreement with the LEP.
“There has been a great deal of close working with Wiltshire Council and the LEP to secure this investment. It shows the strength of local government when wo major local authorities cooperated in such a way that to promote wider economic growth for the whole region.
“It is pleasing to see that Swindon will receive the highest per capita amount of funds – £435 – of any UK urban area. This will be part of the £94.87 million LEP award to Swindon over the next five years, which is lion’s share of the £129.14 million for the whole LEP.
“Although Swindon Borough Council will be managing the project, this will be on behalf of the major partners – the LEP, Wiltshire Council, and the Highways Agency who are responsible for the improvements to M4 Junction 16 that will improve access to and from Wichelstowe.”
Picture by Richard Wintle of Calyx