Government awards £69m to Norfolk and Suffolk to improve skills, infrastructure and innovation

Mark Pendlington speaking at the official opening of the new University Centre at the College of Wes

Mark Pendlington speaking at the official opening of the new University Centre at the College of West Anglia. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The region's local enterprise partnership has been awarded an additional £69m from government to improve infrastructure and skills, and support small businesses and innovation.

The cash covers the period up to 2021 and comes on top of the £221.8m the government has already pledged to the New Anglia LEP, covering Norfolk and Suffolk.

The LEP says the new investment could see 54,750 jobs created, 6,800 homes built and attract an additional £628m in investment over the next four years.

The Growth Deal funding has been allocated to projects including:

• £10m for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road to help fund the work to build a 20km dual carriageway road from the A47 at Postwick, east of Norwich, to the A1067 north of Taverham.

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• £10m for Lowestoft flood alleviation works, investing in a series of engineering works to alleviate the risk of coastal erosion and flooding. This scheme will invest in risk-reducing infrastructure to help the area become attractive for new businesses.

• £12m to establish an Enterprise Zone Accelerator Fund. Following the success of the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone, this fund will deliver plans to create new jobs for the Space to Innovate Enterprise Zone which covers sites across Norfolk and Suffolk, building upon world-class expertise in food and health research, the coastal energy industry, and digital and ICT sectors. The fund will invest in new buildings, infrastructure, access and utility works.

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• £15m to establish an Innovation and Productivity Fund which will provide capital investment to create smarter, more agile businesses and deliver more knowledge-intensive jobs. This will deliver a range of business solutions including use of technology and research to increase productivity and staff efficiency and training.

• £22m for New Anglia's Capital Growth Programme to invest in projects to unlock additional growth around connectivity, unlocking growth and investment in skills.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said the government was 'equipping local people with the resources they need to drive forward local growth'.

He added: 'That is why we're giving £69m of new money to New Anglia LEP to give businesses the support and opportunities they need to achieve their potential – on top of the £221.8 million we have already awarded.'

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: 'This award recognises what we have achieved so far in creating new jobs, building new businesses and winning new investment. We have a proven track record for securing government investment. We have already unlocked over £208million of private sector investment, with much more to come.

'So today, we thank the government for their further investment in the east, and re-commit the strong collaboration of leaders from business, education local authorities that make up the LEP, to drive our potential even further and achieve the growth we need and deserve.'

'The East really is one of the best places in the world to live, work and learn. Our strengths make us uniquely placed to deliver our ambitions of powering the world with global all-energy expertise, feeding with world with world-leading agricultural research and connecting the world with international research and innovation in technology. All supported by our outstanding network of universities and colleges that nurture the talent our businesses need, which provide the jobs and careers of the future.'

Lindsey Rix, managing director of personal lines at Aviva and New Anglia LEP board member, said: 'I'm thrilled that such a generous level of funding has been awarded to Norfolk and Suffolk. It demonstrates the confidence which central government has in New Anglia LEP and the work which we have already undertaken with partners to deliver outstanding results for the local economy.

'This funding will allow us to deliver an exciting and innovative range of investable projects and programmes which will boost skills, create more businesses and jobs, and provide practical support to help the region's SMEs grow and flourish so they can compete and win in UK and global markets.'

The extra funding for LEPs was announced in chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement in November, with each having to bid for the cash.

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