Liverpool and Manchester combine for Daresbury EZ bid

Local enterprise partnerships for the two city regions have joined with developer Langtree to launch a joint bid for Sci-Tech Enterprise Zone in Halton.

The unusual move could be an interesting test case for the emerging regeneration agenda as up until now only one enterprise zone for each LEP area has been the norm.

Halton is part of the Liverpool City Region LEP that includes Sefton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens and Wirral.

The Daresbury bid submitted by Halton Council on behalf of the two LEPs is believed to be the only joint LEP Enterprise Zone application made to Government to date.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "In general only one designation per partnership will be approved to ensure the LEP can prioritise within the functional economic area and not create competition between smaller areas but ministers are still sifting through the bids and an announcement about the second wave will be made over the summer."

The Daresbury campus, which supports the rapid growth of high-tech companies through promotion of innovation and collaboration between hi-tech businesses, universities and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, has submitted plans to develop a 1m sq ft site extension to the existing campus.

If successful, the proposed SCI-TECH Enterprise Zone would deliver new specialist office, laboratory and technical space, designed to retain burgeoning UK enterprises and attract international technology businesses to the country for the first time, with the potential to create as many as 10,000 skilled jobs and leverage over £150m in private sector investment. It offers a unique opportunity to bring world class science and successful business growth together in one location.

John Downes, chairman of Daresbury SIC and managing director of Langtree, said: "From the outset, we have harboured ambitious plans for the future of Daresbury SIC. Enterprise Zone status, and the extra financial and commercial strength it affords through business rates reinvestment, would allow us to deliver the critical infrastructure of the campus and accelerate our growth strategy significantly.

"The science and technology sector has shown itself to be very resilient in the face of widespread economic turmoil, meaning our bid represents a low-risk proposition, while the specialist skills and investment required to make this project work ensures minimal displacement of jobs or businesses from elsewhere."

Mike Blackburn, chairman of Greater Manchester LEP said, "We are keen to play a full and active role in supporting the Daresbury SIC joint venture partners in driving the SCI-TECH Enterprise Zone forwards."

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UPDATE: Adds DCLG quote

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