LEP campaign promotes ready sites

Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership is promoting a list of 11 'oven-ready' strategic sites to investors, occupiers and government to capture footloose investment requirements.

The LEP is pledging support for existing and incoming businesses which includes bidding for government and European cash to provide funding to help prepare sites for occupiers.

Louise Morrissey, Chairman of the Employment Land sub-group of the Cheshire & Warrington LEP, and Land and Planning Director of Peel Holdings, explained: "We have moved beyond the general 'come to Cheshire we're open for business' message to focus on our specific employment sites. We are putting the spotlight on the sites that are genuinely ready for development.

"Everyone has different ideas of what 'oven-ready' means. We think it means they are allocated in the local authority's core strategy for employment use, they are likely to have planning consent and if the infrastructure is not quite in the ground it is more or less deliverable."

Louise Morrissey continued: "We have already been working these sites into our growth conversations with government and looking for infrastructure funding or other opportunities for these sites. We have to have a short list so we can say to government and funding partners 'yes that's a LEP-supported site.'"

The sub-region is already home to MBNA and Marks & Spencer Money, Bentley Motors and GM Vauxhall, EA Technology, United Utilities and Scottish Power.

Louise Morrissey said the list of sites, which includes Birchwood Park, Lingley Mere and Midpoint 18, represented a cross-section of geography, use and size from large industrial to small offices.

LEP chairman Christine Gaskell added: "Currently, Cheshire and Warrington has the strongest performing economy in the North, but that is not good enough for us. We want to be competing with the strongest economies within the UK and internationally. Our ambition is achievable, and the LEP Board recognises that its job is to get the best deal for Cheshire and Warrington to help our businesses go further, faster."

The sub-region boats a strong integrated transport network, based around motorways, the West Coast mainline and Manchester Ship Canal, and a large commuter population with higher than average skill levels.

Louise Morrissey added: "Investment decisions are made very quickly and if the land is not ready here the interested party will move on and make the decision without us. We have a good supply of land and proposed sites – quantity is not the problem. We know that quality and availability are the issues we must focus on."

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Funny how Peel have their mits all over the LEPs. No conflict of interest of course.

By John Brown

Re John Brown’s comments: I think it’s vital that an organisation like Peel is prepared to invest time and effort in supporting the economic growth plans for Cheshire & Warrington. Would John rather have Peel on the ‘outside’ competing with the LEP? It’s not as if the 11 strategic sites identified by the LEP are Peel developments anyway.

By Andy Duxbury

if it wasn’t Peel it would be another party with vested interests. There should be plenty of voices on the LEP committee that should be able to ensure that the "right" decision for the good people of Cheshire is made rather than the "right" decision for Peel. (I did qualify that by saying "should")

By John Peel

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