EEDA mulls £1bn infrastructure fund

OPTIONS are to be examined for creating a new fund which could provide a £1billion boost for transport and other infrastructure projects in the East of England.

OPTIONS are to be examined for creating a new fund which could provide a £1billion boost for transport and other infrastructure projects in the East of England.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has commissioned a team of consultants, led by Colin Buchanan and Hewdon Consulting, to development plans for a regional infrastructure fund (RIF).

It could provide upfront funding from banks or government sources for vital infrastructure projects required to underpin the region's growth plans, with the fund being replenished from future incomes such as a levy on new developments.

Other creative funding mechanisms will also be explored, with a view to supporting projects such as transport schemes, flood defence work and utilities as well as other smaller infrastructure schemes.

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Steve Cox, EEDA's executive director of strategy and development, said: “The regional infrastructure fund which EEDA is developing follows the recent Budget announcement in which the government asked regional development agencies to look at innovative funding mechanisms to pay for infrastructure.

“It will accelerate infrastructure delivery and support the region's ambitious growth plans vital to ensuring the region's businesses can stay competitive in a global marketplace. The billion pounds that could be raised from a regional infrastructure fund should accelerate delivery of prioritised schemes.”

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The consultants will prepare a strategic case for a RIF and identify preferred options, with a business case being delivered during the summer. EEDA will consult widely throughout the process with local authorities and businesses and other partners before pilots are launched next spring.

Steve Cox added: “Our Transport Economic Evidence Study, which will report in the summer, and the evidence-based Integrated Development Programmes or equivalents that many of our local authority partners are now developing with our support will help determine the key infrastructure priorities that could be enabled by the fund.

“However, this cannot happen without the support of our local authority and business partners and EEDA is taking the lead in building up the critical mass which is needed in the region.”

Hugh Roberts, planning and urban design director at Colin Buchanan, said: “Colin Buchanan is pleased to be leading the consortium advising EEDA on this innovative work to find a solution to the region's strategic infrastructure needs.

“We look forward to working with regional partners to develop a fund with mutually beneficial outcomes for the economy and quality of life in the East of England.”

The team of consultants is led by Colin Buchanan and Hewdon Consulting, working with Denton, Wilde & Sapte and PKF.

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