Bid for cash could boost Swindon's growth

Coun David Renard

The White Hart junction is one of the projects Swindon Council is hoping to win funding for

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @Michael_Benke

TALKS are being held today which could lead to money being secured for some of the town’s major infrastructure projects to be built.

A bid is currently being put together by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, who are attempting to secure funds from a government pot of £2bn.

The SWLEP is made up of members from Swindon and Wiltshire Councils as well as experienced representatives from the private sector.

They are set to negotiate what will make up the bid before entering into competitive negotiations with the government, where they will be competing with 38 other LEPS around the country. A target of £300m has been set.

In order to be successful each bid will be assessed on its ability to deliver housing numbers, bring forward employment land to the market, increase employment and make a contribution to the overall economy of the area.

In order to achieve this, three key areas in Swindon will be focused on – the Eastern Villages, Wichelstowe and the Town Centre.

A host of infrastructure projects have been selected as possibilities.

Among them is an upgrade to the White Hart Junction on the A419 and Junction 16 on the M4.

A possible railway crossing in the town centre is also among the projects which could be put forward.

Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said: “The key message we want to send to the government is that Swindon is a place for economic investment and these funds could drive that growth.

“We are competing with all the other LEPs around the country so it is vital we make a strong case that this is where the money should go.

“At this stage we do not know whether anyone will be getting any, some or all of what they want but I will be making the strongest case possible for Swindon.”

The cabinet is also set to make a commitment next week to put half the money gained from the New Homes Bonus into an infrastructure fund set up last month.

The New Homes Bonus is a grant which comes from government for house building and the council expects to get around £40 million in the five years after 2015 if the grant remains in its current form.

A number of projects, such as regenerating the Cheney Manor Industrial Estate or extending Thamesdown Drive, have been identified as possible recipients of this money.

The decision is set to go through at the cabinet meeting next week.

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