Swindon and Wiltshire are to receive Government funding worth £12.8m to create jobs, generate economic growth and accelerate much-needed housebuilding over the next two years.
A further £116.3m could be invested in the area beyond 2017 under the Local Growth Deal including £23m for a new road tunnel under the M4 linking the Wichelstowe housing development to the road network around Junction 16. The Government today said this would create thousands of jobs and opening up a new site for thousands of homes.
The Government said the funding will help to create up to 1,500 jobs, allow up to 2,000 homes to be built and generate up to £70m in public and private investment.
Among the projects backed by the deal are a package of road schemes to support Swindon’s long-planned Eastern Villages scheme – the urban expansion to the east of the town, speeding up the development of the 8,000-homes project by 2026.
A number of transport schemes around Swindon and Wiltshire’s key growth zones will also be funded along with a new science park at Porton Down to provide facilities for research, development and advanced skills training for companies specialising in life sciences and healthcare.
The money will go to the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – the business-led organisation promoting economic growth in the area.
LEP chair Barry Dennington said: “This deal is a positive step for the Swindon and Wiltshire economy and shows that our plans for growth are innovative, distinctive and deliverable.
“We are thrilled that Porton Science Park will now be delivered, creating 2,000 jobs along with developments in a major urban extension in Swindon that will see up to 8,000 new homes being built.”
Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard said: “This funding will help hugely in our efforts to bring inward investment and growth to Swindon. Crucial to this is the creation of new and attractive places to live with quality housing and facilities, such as the proposed Eastern Villages, along with reliable, efficient transport choices for everyone. This money kick-starts both. I am very pleased that the Government has backed our vision for the town and more importantly, put money into it.”
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott added: “Wiltshire welcomes this news and the funding that will be allocated to support economic growth in the county. This will help to safeguard and create new jobs and build a skilled workforce for the future.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable officially launched the Local Growth Deal funding for Swindon and Wiltshire at Porton Down where he met Defence Science & Technology Laboratory head of strategy and governance Sue Holmes and Mr Dennington and toured the site’s BB Diagnostics lab.
Speaking to Swindon Business News, Dr Cable said the funding was a major step in moving decision making on key local schemes from Westminster to towns, cities and counties across the country.
“We are reversing half a century or more when central government told local government how to spend its money”, he said.