Jessica launch stalls again

Approval of the long-awaited £100m kick-start programme was deferred at the October meeting of the North West Urban Development Fund and will have to wait until the next meeting in December at the earliest.

Details of the reasons for the delay at the UDF – the region's specially convened panel to oversee Jessica – have not been given. The official responsible for the North West UDF at the Department for Communities & Local Government, the sponsoring body at central government, was unavailable for comment.

Jessica, or Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas, will be an office development fund for town and city centres financed by the European Regional Development Fund and North West Development Agency, and underwritten by the European Investment Bank.

In 2009, the EIB said the North West would receive Jessica but the formal opening of the fund to developers has not materialised. Sources close to the approval process had hoped the green light would be seen this month.

The £100m launch pot must be allocated by the end of 2015.

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