AGMA leads consortium bid for development fund

Michael Hunt

A consortium led by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities is bidding to control a £50m-plus fund to invest in North West development projects.

The fund will initially total £50m, made up of two pools of up to £20m each, one for Greater Manchester and one for Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, plus a further £10m to be spent in either area. Merseyside is not included in the fund as it will be the subject of a separate urban development fund.

The money has been allocated from the North West's share of the European Regional Development Fund as part of its Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas scheme, known as JESSICA for short.

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities executive board has approved for a consortium made up of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, CB Richard Ellis and Greater Manchester Pension Fund to apply to the European Investment Bank to administer the funding pot.

It would be a loan fund investing in projects which would generate a financial return – money which would then be 'recycled' to keep the fund going.

Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, which is applying on behalf of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, Cumbria, Cheshire and Lancashire, said: "We have worked to very tight timescales to progress this bid but the fact that AGMA has been able to put this together, with the support of Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, is another example of our ambitions for the region and how effectively its partners can work together.

"This fund would give partners the opportunity to secure finance for strategic sites which will make a significant contribution to the success of the North West's economy."

Sarah Whitney, head of regeneration and development at CB Richard Ellis, added: "JESSICA is a means of ensuring a lasting legacy from the ERDF programme and has the potential to be a significant catalyst in the establishment of a major North West fund in support of the City Region's long term strategic regeneration objectives."

Peter Morris, director of pensions for the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, said: "GMPF brings many years' experience investing in the region's development and regeneration schemes to the consortium. We look forward to working with our fund partners as these exciting proposals develop."

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