TRANSFORMING High Wycombe town centre is one of the key priorities for an organisation which has secured £44million of government funding for improvements in Bucks.
Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, announced the £44.2m Growth Fund for the county during a visit to Amersham and Wycombe College this week.
It follows a bid from the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Area Enterprise (BTVLEP) for a share of a £2bn pot of national money for the development of local jobs and business growth.
Richard Harrington, BTVLEP chief executive, said: “We are pleased with the announcement today that we will receive £44.2m funding to help drive growth and jobs in Buckinghamshire.
“The competition for funds was intense and although we did not receive our full ask from the £2bn pot this is a good start and the funding will have a significant impact on our continuing delivery of economic growth.”
The BTVLEP is a partnership between local authorities and businesses, which decides what the priorities should be for investment in roads, buildings and facilities in the area.
As part of its ‘Buckinghamshire Growth Deal’, BTVLEP plans to focus on five priority areas in county, including improving transport links, creating private sector jobs and boosting skills programmes.
With £8.9m of new funding confirmed for 2015/16, the partnership wants to make an immediate impact, with several projects in the pipeline for 2015/16.
These includes the delivery of the High Wycombe Town Masterplan and Southern Quadrant Transport Strategy, which will change the layout of the town centre, creating employment opportunities in town and better transport links from Handy Cross.
In the next year, cash will also be spent to improve Amersham and Wycombe College, a road scheme to improve the problem-plagued A355 and a Bucks-based testbed for emerging 5G telecoms technology.
Entrepreneur and business activist Alex Pratt, chairman of the BTVLEP, has welcomed the news.
He said: “This moment brings us to an exciting new beginning for smart, timely, coalface-inspired growth, but this remains a complex challenge.
“Now that the Government has reminded us of the colour of our own money, every LEP will be focussing hard on delivering its growth promises."
Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett called the funding agreement ‘a major vote of confidence in Buckinghamshire’.
He added: “We were in competition with projects submitted from all across the country, including the major cities.
“The award demonstrates the strength of our bid, our evidence base and the strong team working between councils and the Bucks business community.”
To read the Strategic Economic Plan & Local Growth Deal executive summary please go to http://www.buckstvlep.co.uk/strategic-economic-plan