Damian Waters

CBI: ‘Quays can inspire UK’

Simon Donohue

Salford Quays could provide the template for regeneration projects across the UK, CBI North West director Damian Waters said today.

A new CBI briefing document, Locally Grown – Unlocking business potential through regeneration, argues that projects like Media City UK could be a model for future growth in cities across the UK.

Waters said there is a need for a new approach to regeneration which focuses on business growth and breaks the cycle of dependency on the public sector.

He added: "We need to break the cycle of dependency on the public purse to bankroll building projects, and focus more on local business strengths, leveraging the clout of the public balance sheet as a confidence booster to drive investment.

"Businesses are changing and so must the properties they occupy.

"With our supply of quality office space diminishing and the need to dramatically speed-up house building, regeneration is a high priority for business leaders I speak to in cities across the UK.

"On the high street it's a different story, with growing numbers of shops now lying empty.

"Businesses and local communities need to put their heads together to find solutions that will breathe new life into our town centres – not to recreate them as they once were, but to fashion them for the 21st century.

"The Government has helped to get the housing market moving with mortgage access initiatives, but we still need action on the supply side – we need shovels in the ground. Failure to build will see housing in our major cities become increasingly unaffordable.

"Communities without young people will not flourish, and the dreams of our young people for home ownership will be dashed.

"There is huge potential for our major cities outside London to contribute far more than they do already. But without regeneration they will continue to punch below their weight."

Locally Grown – Unlocking business potential through regeneration draws on positive examples of regeneration across the UK.

Media City UK is highlighted as an example of regeneration which has successfully reinforced existing strengths in the creative industries.

The CBI says four key policy challenges must be tackled to ensure successful UK-wide regeneration:

  • Local Enterprise Partnerships must rise to the challenge. The Government is strengthening LEPs with more powers and funding, but businesses still need to be convinced of their capacity to deliver growth.
  • Political parties must commit to the existing structures for local growth. Businesses don't want another overhaul of local governance structures.
  • The Government must deliver long-awaited infrastructure upgrades. Businesses need to see a delivery plan complete with timescales, sequencing, transparency and accountability, so they can decide where to invest.
  • Planning policy and property taxation must support the private sector's development ambition. Local authorities must set out clear plans in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and urgent action is needed to curb the unacceptable burden of business rates for firms across the UK, especially for hard-pressed retailers.

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