Ruli Pennington is Editor of Council News Monitor and writes Night in the City an occasional column for Information Daily. She is passionate about better public services, devolution, malt whisky & women's football.@UnruliP
Multi-million pound package of investment aiming to deliver improved infrastructure and long-term benefits for Fenland has been approved.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) agreed almost £16 million of funding to drive economic growth to the area and overcome long-standing infrastructure needs.
It means ambitious projects supporting the delivery of thousands of new homes, more jobs, better transport links and improved education opportunities can now progress to their next stages of development.
Among the funding approved by the CPCA included:
A total of £6.5 million for the Wisbech Garden Town project, which plans to regenerate Wisbech with 10,000-12,000 homes over the next 40 years. The money will fund feasibility studies over the next two years to investigate issues such as flood risk, transportation and land acquisition, as well as the next stage of the Wisbech Rail study.
A £500,000 contribution towards the business case development for the dualling of the A47, which, along with the Wisbech Rail link, is considered a "fundamental part of bringing about significant change to the area" by improving connectivity and unlocking many wider economic benefits.
Funding of £1.25 million to investigate the feasibility, benefits and impacts of connecting the M11 in Cambridge to the A47 in the Wisbech/Guyhirn area, along with £500,000 to upgrade works on the A10.
A total of £6.5 million to accelerate the establishment of a University of Peterborough. The funding will be used to help increase student numbers at the University Centre Peterborough (UCP) and turn it into a fully independent university by 2020; providing an opportunity for Fenland residents to study for a degree nearby.
A bid for £25,000 to fund a feasibility study into the use of modular homes. The work will consider the benefits of using off-site housing manufacturing, including the associated benefits of new skills and employment as well as the acceleration of housing delivery.
An allocation of £145,000 to establish an independent Economic Commission, which will complete an economic review of the CPCA area. The review will give unbiased evidence about the area's economic performance, demonstrating potential for growth and helping to influence high-level national decisions.
Furthermore, the Board approved four schemes to be submitted to the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) run by the Department for Transport. The go-ahead was given for Cambridgeshire County Council to enter bids for A47 junction improvements, changes to address congestion problems and A605 access improvements between Whittlesey and Stanground.
Fenland District Council leader John Clark said "The devolution deal to devolve central government spending to local areas has started to produce real cash investment that should hopefully lead to tangible outcomes for Fenland and its residents. This vital support from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority means numerous projects can now progress to the next stage and bring them a step closer to making a huge difference to our area."