Growing Places Fund
A major new fund to boost development and help grow the local economy has been launched in Coventry and Warwickshire.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been awarded an allocation of £12.8 million from the Government’s Growing Places Fund – designed to kick-start developments and other infrastructure projects allowing them to deliver quicker economic benefits.
The LEP was awarded an allocation of £8.6 million in February which was increased following the Chancellor’s announcement in last week’s Budget of additional funding for Growing Places.
The Fund has been established to be as flexible and as streamlined as possible with the aim of offering loans at highly attractive rates. The minimum sized investment is £1 million.
Financial returns will then be used for further projects with the aim of developing a long-term “ever-green” fund.
The application process has been opened this week with all bids to be made by April 30.
Denys Shortt, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, said the scheme had been designed to bring growth and jobs to the region.
“This is very much a kick-start programme to allow projects which could be stuck for a variety of reasons, to really move ahead with the aim of delivering a boost to jobs and economic growth as quickly as possible,” he said.
“There will be a variety of reasons why some infrastructure and development schemes are not progressing as quickly as they might in easier economic times, and that is how the Growing Places Fund can help.
“We have been able to offer funding on very attractive terms and I hope developers and other applicants come forward.
“The LEP was designed with the sole aim of growing the economy of Coventry and Warwickshire – and this fund fits entirely with that ambition.”
Eligible projects should be as ‘ready-to-go’ as possible, and to have or show a reasonable expectation of gaining planning consent by September this year with work ideally starting on-site by the end of 2012, or as soon as possible after that date. Projects should be predominantly employment focused, and will benefit the local economy.
The fund’s preference is to provide loans at attractive market rates (from 2.34%), although equity finance will also be considered.
Warwickshire County Council is acting as the fund holder for the scheme and handling the application process on behalf of the CW LEP.
Cllr Alan Cockburn, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Communities and CW LEP board member, said: “This is recognition by the Government that there are schemes underway that with a reasonable level of additional finance could move forward at a quicker pace and therefore bring earlier benefits.
“But the aim is very much for this to become self perpetuating. The £8.6 million – while very welcome – is just the start. The idea is to develop a long-term fund by reinvesting returns, so that we can keep schemes moving forward and allowing them to realise their full economic benefits.”
The CWLEP Board is now inviting applications from developers and other applicants for Round 1 funding. Applications must be submitted by 12 noon Monday 30th April 2012.
The Prospectus for the Coventry & Warwickshire Growing Places Fund is now available to view and download. This provides further information on the Fund, and the application and appraisal process. Also available is a copy of the application form, the interest rate matrix (which will be used as the basis for loan agreements with successful applicants), and drafts of the standard funding agreements depending on the project.
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