Essex County Council’s £100m support plan for growth not ‘achievable’

News / Tue 30th Jan 2024 at 04:17pm

ESSEX County Council’s aspirations to create hundreds of jobs and homes through the investment of about £5m a year “does not stack up” it has been told reports the Local Democrat y Reporter.

Essex County Council says it wants to begin to realise the potential of the Essex Renewal Fund by seeking suitable acquisitions to support good jobs, future growth and investment, green growth and levelling up the economy.

Over the next 20 years, the fund aims to invest over £100m , supporting 1,500 jobs and bringing to market enough land to deliver 1,000 new homes.

But the council has been asked how the council can prove it can deliver on the plans led and defended by Councillor Lee Scott, cabinet member for planning a growing economy.

Essex County Council say it will limit investment to £12.5m per project (including any grant funding for which it is accountable).

For larger projects, it wants to share risk and reward with external partners, either through a ‘Master Developer’ model or development partnerships.

To manage impacts on their revenue budget, total activity is anticipated to remain under £27.5m at any one time. However, it aims to invest at least £100m over the next 20 years by reinvesting any income from the fund.

Ricky Thakrar, Economic Infrastructure Manager at Essex County Council said: “The maximum lot size for the fund is £12.5m. We expect two to three projects at any one time. Those projects would take three years to develop and there a holding period.

“The critical thing is what we might do is invest in an area where the market isn’t proven yet, such in a garden community where it is a new market.

“We would be able to pre value, de-risk the site, secure permission not for the phase we are delivering, but wider element and then by de-risking that scheme the private sector can come and deliver further benefits.”

But Councillor Marshall Vance worried it “didn’t stack up” at a Corporate Policy and Scrutiny Committee on January 25.

He said: “You aim to deliver 1500 jobs and 1000 homes. My brain says that is not going to be achievable somehow. It sounds to me like Councillor Scott has his hands tied behind his back a little bit. It just didn’t stack up for me. ”

He added: “It just seems to me you don’t have the finances possibly to do those deliverables. And where is the evidence that business or outside monies will be coming in from to support that?”

Councillor Chris Whitbread, cabinet member for finance at Essex County Council, said: said: “This is so much about unlocking opportunity and it won’t just be us doing it. It will be with partners as well because using the point of bringing forward a site that currently might not be brought forward because it doesn’t fit naturally with a private company, can really unlock opportunity.”

He added: “If we can get something to come forward we can then move onto anther partner that is how we recycle the money and make it go further.

And while the target have to aspirational they are also targets we should want to achieve as a council and want to encourage and inspire to happen.”

Essex County Councikl says the fund will only consider land and property projects that align with its Levelling Up Essex Strategy, which benefit Essex residents and businesses. These involve refurbishment, development or bringing development land to market, lie within the administrative area of Essex County Council (excluding Southend and Thurrock) and focus on attracting and retaining investment and talent in and around Tendring, Basildon and Colchester housing estates, Harlow, Rural Braintree and Canvey Island.

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7 Comments for Essex County Council’s £100m support plan for growth not ‘achievable’:

2024-01-30 16:42:01

Given the latest figures for population growth Essex County Council are going to have to build a heck of a lot more homes, schools, hospitals etc etc

Nicholas Taylor
2024-01-30 16:53:51

Population growth in an area only occurs if more homes are built. We need to say that we as a town and indeed as a country, we are full up.

2024-01-30 19:46:16

Nicholas Taylor,i am in totql agreement with you. Well said.

Guy Flegman
2024-01-31 08:52:37

Good grief, Politicians and maths! Should be made illegal

2024-01-31 09:53:35

Isn't it the job of Councils to deliver services and ensure public money is wisely spent rather than play the market as investment bankers? Most Councillors just don't have the experience or expertise to dabble, look how many Councils have gone bankrupt. If job creation is needed then the government should staff a regional Enterprise and Industry Development Bodies via the Department of Industry (or what it's equivalent might be). Seemed to work when the new towns were developed under the various New Town Commissioners post ww2.

2024-01-31 13:41:35

Councils and governments do not create jobs (apart from gov non-jobs which stop real jobs). They create the environment for businesses to be created and businesses to grow. . What is interesting is looking at the business / economic growth development people employed but both Harlow and Essex CC is they have never created a business, or run one so how can they actually know what they are talking about! The solution to creating jobs is simple slash taxes, slash regulation. We need to get government out of most apsects of our life and the economy will boom

2024-01-31 14:55:18

The people who can’t even fill the potholes are to be responsible for £100M of spending with the nebulous aims of ‘bringing forward a site that currently might not be brought forward because it doesn’t fit naturally with a private company’ and ‘unlocking opportunity’ – Doesn’t sound good does it!

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