Support to the South East LEP on Growing Places Fund
BBP provides a support service to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s on their Growing Places Fund. Our brief has been wide ranging, initially helping to make the case to DCLG for the south-east’s allocation of £40 million of Growing Places Funds; designing the structure of the revolving funds and the finance arrangements for individiual projects; inviting applications; and shortlisting and appraising detailed business cases. We have provided briefings to the legal team on the terms of the credit facilities and we have helped to build capacity with the LEP secreteriat on fund management and project appraisal.
The national Growing Places Fund (GPF), was launched at the end of 2011, aimed at providing capital finance to LEPs in order to unlock stalled sites which can deliver economic growth. The government wants GPF to support projects that are strategically important to the LEPs, can be delivered quickly and where the funds can be recycled into future rounds of investment.
The situations in the South East and Oxfordshire required different approaches. The South East had the largest allocation of GPF outside London, to fund projects across an area administered by six upper tier and unitary councils. Here, we helped structure a series of loan agreements between the LEP’s accountable body and the upper tier/unitary authorities who either borrow money to fund projects directly or enter into subordinate agreements with other public (e.g. Districts) and private project promoters. In this way, the LEP had a large amount of certainty over the repayments, and timing of them, which allows it to plan future investments with confidence. In the South East we managed two rounds of bidding and helped put in place loan agreements for transportation, highways, and other site preparation works.
We helped the South East successfully secure its intial tranche of GPF by co-ordinating a PQQ, which was cited by DCLG as a leading example to other LEP’s. We followed this up with rapid progress in a complex political landscape to allocate over £40 million-worth of funding in Round 1, followed by applications for a similar amount for Round 2. The fund is now oversubscribed, which has enabled the LEP to plan ahead with a pipeline of future projects. The approach and progress made has been commended by DCLG and the first project, a £7 million loan to support Priory Quarter in Hastings, was one of the first to be made nationally. Testament to the value added service provided by BBP has been the invitation to continue providing support following initial appointment.