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New Borderlands growth deal heralds big spend

19 Mar 21 Up to £452m of fresh investment is set to be brought to Scotland and the north of England under a new growth deal signed yesterday.

Development of Court Square by Carlisle Station is one of the projects included in the deal
Development of Court Square by Carlisle Station is one of the projects included in the deal

Ministers of the UK and Scottish governments and representatives of the five council areas that are covered signed the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal at a virtual ceremony yesterday.

It covers the largest geographical area of any regional growth deal negotiated with the UK and Scottish governments and it is the first cross-border deal.

The deal will deliver projects across four themes: improving places; enabling infrastructure; encouraging green growth; and supporting innovation, business and skills. Each theme has an agreed set of projects that 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. 

Funding of £20m is included for a 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. 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. 

There will be an investment of up to £31m in green energy projects and £7m to develop skills needed by the regional economy, along with improvements in digital and mobile connectivity across the region. The importance of the region’s towns will be the focus of the £50m Place Programme, which, along with investments in tourism and business infrastructure, will help position the Borderlands as an attractive place to live and visit. 

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

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

Scottish government cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I am pleased to be signing the Borderlands Growth Deal, confirming that the Scottish government will invest £85 million in the region over the next 10 years that will build strategically on the region’s natural assets, resources and entrepreneurial spirit to drive sustainable economic growth.

“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.”

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UK government’s secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick said: “The Borderlands Growth Deal will realise 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,”

UK government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “The benefits of the UK Government's £265 million investment in the deal will be felt by communities across the whole of the Borderlands region and beyond. Exciting projects like the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre and a Dairy Innovation Centre in Dumfries, Dairy Nexus, will build on regional strengths to create jobs and prosperity, while improvements to digital and transport infrastructure will ensure that we build back better from the pandemic.

Across Scotland we have committed more than £1.5 billion to City Region and Growth Deals.”

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

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 £350 million to our region, alongside local contributions of over £100 million. 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 4 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.”

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