Bolton prepares to wind up EDZ

Bolton council said its European-funded Economic Development Zone, which runs out at the end of September, resulted in £213m of public and private sector investment in the west of the borough during its seven-year lifetime.

The EDZ, which includes part of Horwich and Blackrod, was created in 2001 after receiving £9.6m from the European Regional Development Fund. It helped kick-start development of Orbit's Middlebrook and Parklands sites on the edge of the town.

The £213m includes £43m of ERDF and £170m from private developers. The council's own output statistics claimed that the EDZ helped boost the financial sector in Bolton by 185% during the period; transformed more than 60 acres of industrial land; and created around 4,000 full-time jobs.

Orbit has certainly enjoyed a rich vein of deals at Middlebrook with insurance giant AXA, NHS Direct and the Royal Bank of Scotland among its larger occupiers.

Rents in Middlebrook are around £16/sq ft, more than £10 cheaper than Manchester city centre.

Bolton WIDE, a public-private partnership, helped Bolton council secure European funding for the EDZ. The partnership includes Orbit, Bluemantle, UK Coal, the University of Bolton, and public sector agencies such as the Learning & Skills Council, and North West Development Agency.

The agency will cease operating once funding has finished and Business Bolton, the council's enterprise department, will take over outstanding EDZ work.

The council has set itself a target of generating 20,000 new jobs and up to £1bn of investment over the next 10 years.

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