Think tank calls for new fund to invest in major development projects

New research published today by Centre for Cities calls on the Government to establish a national fund for urban development to drive forward major projects like city centre redevelopment, office buildings and houses.

Press release published on 25 March 2012

The research, Developing Interest, supported by the European Investment Bank, highlights that deficit reduction and a lack of appetite for private sector investment has left a major gap in funding needed to kick start development projects across the UK.

Urban Development Funds exist already and have started investing money in such urban development projects but their coverage is patchy and available to just half of UK cities.  Of the largest cities, Leeds, Bristol, Birmingham and Newcastle do not have access to a fund at all.  This means that development in these places is potentially being held back.

The research calls on Government to set up a national fund that all cities could access and benefit from, allowing this money to be invested more quickly and in a wider range of activities to help unlock local jobs and growth.

A national fund would also make taxpayers’ money work harder, enabling Government to invest more money in local development and regeneration.  To date, Government policy has focused on grant funding, through polices like the Regional Growth Fund, above investment.  But the Government receives no direct financial return on this, leaving it with less money to spend on future projects.   The Help to Buy scheme, announced in the Budget last week, provides a template for making taxpayers money work harder through investment.

The national fund would pool European money, public funds and private sector investment.  This should be used alongside traditional grant funding to ensure that there are a range of options that can be used to deliver the city centre regeneration, infrastructure projects and new offices that can lead to additional jobs in cities across the country.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities said:

“A new national urban development fund would offer Government a way to invest in the development and regeneration in our communities need without increasing net public sector debt.   As the Chancellor looks for innovative ways to balance the books before the Spending Review this summer, a national investment fund could offer a complementary approach to traditional grant funding to support local development.”

“This national fund would also help to create a stronger pipeline of development projects over the long term, leaving cities better equipped to attract further investment in order to respond to the needs of residents and businesses.”


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