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Growth Areas

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to paragraph 3.119 of Budget 2003, HC500, how the Government will work closely with regional and local partners to deliver infrastructure, economic development and regeneration in growth areas; and what steps they will take to strengthen local delivery mechanisms to achieve these policy arms. [110172]

The Sustainable Communities Plan, published by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on 5 February 2003, sets out some of the ways in which Government will work with regional and local partners to realise the potential of the growth areas.The regional planning bodies and local authorities have started work on translating the development proposals for the growth areas into revisions of regional planning guidance so that they set out agreed levels of housing provision and how growth can be delivered. These proposals will be the subject of consultation and testing through examination in public.New regional steering and delivery groups have been established to bring local and regional partners together to co-ordinate programmes. These include the Regional Development Agencies, English Partnerships and other public sector agencies.

Additional local delivery mechanisms will also be required to co-ordinate, focus and drive forward major new developments, maximising private sector investment. Consultation is taking place with local authorities and other partners to consider the best approach for each locality to promote development. Any new arrangements will need to be fit for purpose and will operate with the full involvement of the local partners. Various mechanisms are available as no single approach will be suitable in all circumstances.

Over the next three years £446 million will be made available for the Thames Gateway and £164 million for the other growth areas. These resources include an element for setting up and running the local delivery vehicles, as well as site assembly and remediation of brownfield land, and essential local infrastructure. The Planning Delivery Grant will also offer extra resources in the growth areas to help local planning authorities better manage and progress the development process.

These resources cannot pay for all the infrastructure needed to facilitate growth—for example, major transport projects, education and health and private investment.

Government Departments are working together on the needs of the growth areas and with the private sector to look at sources of funding. Alongside other priorities, the Department for Transport is considering the longer-term transport infrastructure needs of the growth areas as part of its review of the 10-Year Transport Plan.