The Northern Gateway Development Zone, a shared investment campaign for South Cheshire and North Staffordshire, has been renamed the Constellation Partnership, with the new brand unveiled in Cannes today.
Jackie Sadek, independent chair of the collaboration of seven local authorities and two local enterprise partnerships, said: “The new brand is fabulous. It represents our ambition and our collective identity. One of the strengths of the partnership is our diversity, we will be the place in the UK where everything connects – people, businesses and ideas.
“The Constellation Partnership’s ambition is to deliver 120,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes by 2040, supercharged by the investment in HS2. It’s an enormous opportunity that requires a new approach following the approval of the High-Speed Rail hybrid bill, one that communicates just how transformational the next decade and beyond will be.”
Sadek said that lessons had been learned from doomed attempts to rebrand South Eastern towns such as Purfleet, Grays and Dartford as the Thames Gateway. She told the event that HS2’s progress made a clear vision critical:
“We have not got a lot of time before HS2 is here – we have got to be ready, we have got to be match-fit. We will be the best-connected part of the country, and our aspiration has to match the size of the opportunity.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for growth and the target is that we become the ninth English core city.”
“I believe that the Constellation name will have the right resonance with the markets and a lasting impact. This region, between the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine is not only nationally important, but also a distinctive constellation of inter-connected and complementary niche economies, each important in its own right.
“Constellation offers a competitive, accessible and sustainable investment geography, underpinned by high quality of life, a diversity of investment opportunities and a welcoming environment that embraces difference. It’s this fertile mix of ideas and energies that is generating new opportunities and growth.
“The Partnership is not just doing what every other city region is doing – we are offering something entirely new and different with our USP being the fact we are not what everyone else is. This is a unique mix of investment opportunities – no barriers to investment – no borders to opportunity. It brings together city and country, urban and rural, creatives and developers and manufacturers.”
High speed rail created 116,000 new jobs in Lille between 1993 and 2001, and 56,000 new jobs in Zaragoza in five years and The Constellation Partnership believes that HS2 will have a similar impact.
Jackie Sadek, who is also chief executive of UK Regeneration and a former government advisor, added: “In little over a decade, Crewe will be the most connected place in the UK, with its high speed rail ‘super hub’ giving 360 degree connectivity, north and south, east and west, and in turn providing a massive and long-lasting boost to Cheshire and Staffordshire, as well as the North of England and Scotland.
“This year is a big year for the Constellation Partnership, with our growth strategy to be submitted to government and so we need to maintain momentum and encourage early investment in our region to avoid missing out on the 40 square miles of some of the brightest investment opportunities in the whole of the country over the next 25 years.”
Duncan Sutherland, HS2 board member and director of regeneration at developer-investor Sigma Capital, also spoke at the launch event. He said: “When HS2 arrives, nowhere else in the UK will offer both direct connections to London in 55 minutes and Manchester and Birmingham in around 15 minutes and transform journey times across the rest of the country.
“Within the Constellation region, we can expect to see significant growth ripple from its urban areas of Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford, underpinned by unparalleled connectivity to the national transport network, via HS2 connectivity.
“The partners should be congratulated in how they have come together to break down the artificial barriers to growth and jobs, and offer diversity and the co-operation, partnership and community of purpose across boundaries which can hold business back in other city regions.”
The event also featured contributions from Cllr Rachel Bailey, leader, Cheshire East Council, Cllr Abi Brown, deputy leader, Stoke on Trent City Council; Cllr Patrick Farrington, leader, Stafford Borough Council; Cllr Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council; Philip Cox, CEO, Cheshire and Warrington LEP; and David Frost CBE, chair, Stoke and Staffs LEP. It was also attended by Cheshire & Warrington LEP board member, Pete Waterman and other significant stakeholders.