Consortium confirmed for Merseyside Jessica fund

A consortium led by Igloo Regeneration will manage an urban development fund aimed at helping regeneration projects get started in Merseyside.

The fund will start with £30m in public money 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, Jessica, now known as the North West Urban Investment Fund developed by The North West Development Agency and the European Investment Bank.

As tipped on Place in August, the consortium is made up of Igloo Regeneration with Aviva Investors Global Services, GVA Grimley, and Royal Bank of Canada Europe.

The consortium has the full support of local authorities in the region, which is led by Wirral Council's interim chief executive Jim Wilkie, and they have collectively agreed to provide match funding to Merseyside's £60m North West Urban Investment Fund. The Mersey Partnership and Liverpool Vision have also supported the Merseyside urban regeneration fund.

Cllr Jeff Green, leader of Wirral Council, said: "Jessica will provide the Liverpool city region with a sustainable delivery model for investing European funds in a longer programme of regeneration. The Fund is very much in line with the Coalition Government's strategy for economic growth as we've undertaken to work with the private sector to create an investment fund for the property market at a time when it is difficult to gain appropriate finance.

"We will seek to use the region's assets in a way that maximises regeneration and bridges the financial gaps that exist post credit crunch thus enabling developers to bring employment and wealth creation to the entire region."

Iain Jenkinson, investment agent for the consortium and director of GVA Grimley, added: "The consortium is of the view that the Merseyside urban development fund can achieve attractive commercial returns by taking a different view on the investment of public and private capital and in so doing assist the local partners and the emerging Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver a shared vision for the city region."

"We intend to start inviting proposals for investments shortly and are working towards the Merseyside Fund being up and running in the New Year."

Robert Hough, chairman of the NWDA, said: "The NWDA launched The North West Urban Investment Fund alongside the European Investment Bank back in December and will be one of the legacy funds the Agency can proudly leave in place for the region. It is an opportunity for the region to put a mechanism in place that will ensure we can prolong the benefit of our ERDF Programme. The initiative will allow us to invest in revolving funding, in addition to the normal single use grants. The returns from these investments can be re-used on other projects again, and again, extending the life of our European funding and helping us to maintain a level of physical regeneration during the challenging economic climate."

The North West Urban Investment Fund is a new £100m fund to finance urban development projects across the region.

In July, it was announced a consortium of Agma, CB Richard Ellis and Greater Manchester Pension Fund, known as Evergreen, was selected as preferred bidder to deliver its proposals for the North West Urban Investment Fund, covering regeneration in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire.

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Very much hoping that not too many opportunities will be left out in the cold.

By Green

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