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Transformative £452m Borderlands deal to unlock area’s economic potential

A £452m deal to unlock the economic potential of the Borderlands area has been formally signed by the UK and Scottish governments and local authority partners.

Ministers of the two governments and representatives of the five councils of the Borderlands Partnership signed the transformative Inclusive Growth Deal at a virtual ceremony.

The deal will reach all parts of the Borderlands area – sitting either side of the English/Scottish border – drive inclusive growth and deliver significant and lasting benefits for individuals, businesses and communities.

Investment covers the largest geographical area of any regional growth deal and is the first cross-border deal.

Partners say it will bring a transformative step change for the businesses and communities of the Borderlands by increasing productivity, growing the working age population, and delivering a more inclusive economy.

The projects of the deal aim to deliver up to 5,500 jobs and £1.1billion of additional GVA with a sustainable and inclusive approach to growth.

The Borderlands Partnership is made up of Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council.

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, said: “The Borderlands Growth Deal will a new era of regeneration and opportunity as we build back better from the pandemic.

“The Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Distillery, and the Carlisle Station regeneration project are just two examples of schemes already benefitting from the deal which will create jobs and improve regional connectivity. We’re levelling up across the UK by investing in jobs, driving economic growth, and strengthening our cross-border links.”

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “Projects the Scottish Government is supporting through the deal will focus on reinvigorating town centres, expanding business sites and premises to stimulate business growth and job creation, maximising the region’s appeal as a leading outdoor and adventure tourism destination and equipping people with the skills they need to forge successful careers and contribute to their communities.

“The deal is focused on local people and local priorities, enabling the Borderlands area to create sustainable jobs, re-invigorate the economy, and build strategically for long term growth and prosperity.”

Cllr John Mallinson, Leader of Carlisle City Council and Borderlands Partnership Board Co-Chair, said: “It’s fantastic to announce the signing of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal bringing fresh investment from Government of up to £350million to our region, alongside local contributions of over £100million.

“The deal is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between Governments, local authorities and other partners which will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to our region.

“The deal will also provide crucial support to our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 emergency and ensure we set in place strong foundations on which to build back better and greener, delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Cllr Mark Rowley, Executive Member for Economic Regeneration & Finance from Scottish Borders Council, who hold the other co-Chair position, said: “The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal will have a transformational impact on the whole region, with the aim of creating 5,500 jobs, bringing in over four million extra tourists and improving mobile and digital connections thanks to the funding from the two governments and the additional investment the deal will attract.

“The unlocking of investment in our towns will generate a predicted £1.1billion uplift in the region’s GVA and the partners will be able to deliver individually and collectively a range of projects which will not only improve the area for existing residents but also encourage more to move here, which will help address some of the common challenges we face.”

The deal will deliver across four themes: improving places; enabling infrastructure; encouraging green growth; and supporting innovation, business and skills. Each theme has an agreed set of projects which will help deliver a step change for the businesses and communities of Borderlands by increasing productivity, growing the working age population and delivering a more inclusive economy.

£20 million funding is included for redevelopment of Carlisle Station and the surrounding area, to act as a gateway to the region. Work to assess the benefits and challenges of extending the Edinburgh – Tweedbank Borders Railway to Carlisle will also be progressed, including feasibility at the appropriate stage of business case development.

There will be use of up to £50m of Borderlands funding to transform Carlisle’s Grade 1 listed Citadels buildings into a new city centre campus for the University of Cumbria, expanding opportunities for local students and drawing in new students to the area.

The deal will support the delivery of a new Berwick Theatre while the skills and innovation work will include the development of a Mountain Biking Innovation Centre in the Scottish Borders. Funding will also support the development of Chapelcross in Dumfries and Galloway, as the region’s clean growth strategic investment site for low carbon energy generation and energy efficient businesses.

The deal includes investment of up to £31million in green energy projects and £7million to develop skills needed by the regional economy, along with much needed improvements in digital and mobile connectivity across the region.

The importance of the region’s towns will be the focus of the £50million Place Programme, which, along with significant investments in tourism and business infrastructure, will help position the Borderlands as a vibrant and attractive place to live and visit.

A CGI of Court Square, Carlisle station gateway

£18m will develop 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.

£6m has been allocated to the ‘See More Lake District Cycling’ project which will encourage visitors to use more sustainable transport and help disperse the economic benefit from visitors to the Lake District World Heritage Site.

Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “This is a key milestone in a long journey, and fantastic news for the county, resulting from close working with the UK and Scottish Governments over several months and years to get to this point.

“It is very welcome that we now have confirmed levels of funding for our Cumbria specific projects and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they each develop and the many benefits that they will bring to the county.

“The deal is ambitious and will bring a much-needed economic boost post Covid-19 to aid our recovery in attracting tourists and businesses to come to Cumbria as well as enhancing the area for our residents and local communities.”

University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell, added: “We are delighted that the deal has been formally signed and the transformational Citadels project, in partnership with Cumbria County Council and Carlisle City Council, is on track to progress.

“All partners have worked incredibly hard over many months to get to this point and we thank everyone involved for their tremendous commitment to our city, region and university.

“The role of Cumbria’s university in supporting individuals, our businesses, economy and communities to thrive has never been more important, and this strategic investment will extend our impact and reach further and for many decades to come.”

Delivery has started on some of the deal projects, following the release of early funding by the UK Government.

This includes top up funding for a Digital Voucher scheme supporting businesses and private customers to install high speed broadband; funding for the development of the Borderlands Energy Masterplan; £5million towards the building of Lilidorei, a large-scale new play village to enhance the visitor offer at the Alnwick Gardens, the start of the work to redevelop Carlisle Station and a £3million investment towards the Ad Gefrin Visitor Experience and Distillery in Northumberland.

For more information, visit the partnership website at www.Borderlandsgrowth.com 

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