Cumbria is set to reap major benefits from a multi-million pound investment through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal. That deal took a key step forward today, with the UK and Scottish Governments announcing the ‘Heads of Terms.’
This is a key document containing further detail about the specific programmes and projects that will be developed and delivered over the coming years. The figure has now increased to £350million, following a further £5m contribution form the UK government.
Projects outlined in the Heads of Terms include:
Rural Towns – Rural towns across the Borderlands region will benefit from an investment programme to help boost economic activity. Towns will be identified over the coming months and then work will be carried out to develop plans and initiatives to support their revitalisation.
Digital and mobile connectivity – this is critical to future business performance and even more so for dispersed rural communities in Cumbria. Borderlands partners will now progress the development of a business case for investment in digital and mobile infrastructure for the area.
Promoting Borderlands as a key place to visit – The Borderlands partners have identified a number of priority initiatives to support the visitor economy. This will include the development of a series of projects along the length of Hadrian’s Wall (from Wallsend to Ravenglass) to improve the visitor experience and encourage people to explore different attractions within this unique World Heritage site. This will link with a Borders Walking and Cycling Routes project to seek to establish the Borderlands as a national and international destination for outdoor recreation, by enhancing the existing network of long-distance walking and cycling routes and creating new routes. The ‘See More Lake District’ project will encourage visitors to use more sustainable transport and will help disperse the economic benefit from visitors to the Lake District World Heritage Site.
Developing a new high profile Gateway to the area – to support growth, tourism and connectivity there will be investment around Carlisle City Station and the adjacent Citadel area. Carlisle Station is the largest station in the Borderlands and the public will have an exciting opportunity to help shape a detailed business case for this. This ‘gateway’ will include the development of the historic Citadel area and establish this site as a focal point for higher education, business and cultural activities. Work on this is underway with the University of Cumbria and other key local stakeholders to explore options.
Support for new green energy initiatives – There is a commitment to invest £31m in energy projects to support ‘green’ growth through reducing carbon emissions and to contribute to the ambition of the Borderlands region being carbon neutral.
Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council said: “It’s welcome to see that the multi-million pound investment recognises many exciting projects that could benefit the whole of Cumbria. These include: investment in infrastructure to improve mobile and digital connectivity across the Borderlands region; providing funding to support the revitalisation of smaller towns across our six districts; and capitalising on our outdoor assets to raise the profile and appeal of the Borderlands as a place to visit which includes Hadrian’s wall, See More Lake District and Border cycling and walking routes.
“This is the latest milestone in a long journey, and fantastic news for the county, after we’ve been working with the UK and Scottish Government over many months to get to this point. Whilst we’re still in the early stages and we don’t have confirmed levels of funding for many of the projects, their reference in the Heads of Terms is very encouraging and I’m looking forward to seeing how each of these business cases develop and the benefits that they will bring to Cumbria.”
Cllr John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council, added: “The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will provide transformational change for Carlisle. This is an exciting time for the city and I welcome the investment from the government and partners. The signing of the Heads of Terms is an important step forward and we look forward to working on the next stages of the Carlisle Station Gateway project.”
John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle said: “I am delighted with the news that the Heads of Terms has been signed. This is the next stage in the Borderlands journey and is a huge step forward for investment in our region. It is very much welcomed.”
University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor, Julie Mennell commenting on the gateway project said:
“The University of Cumbria was established to increase the educational attainment levels of our young people and to meet the high level skills needs of our county. The Carlisle Station Gateway project provides significant potential for us to progress this role further and in doing so increase the impact we have on our city, communities and economy. We are very pleased to be working with our City and County Councils to develop the business case for funding.”
The deal will deliver 5,500 job opportunities, attract more than four million extra tourists to the area, improve mobile and digital connections and unlock investment in towns generating £1.1billion to the Borderlands economy.
Signing of the full Growth Deal agreement is expected to take place next year.