GPF event speakers
Sarah Waddington

Member Article

Growing places fund is open for bids

Over 130 property people gathered at an event at Newcastle Civic Centre with the clear message that the Growing Places Fund (GPF) is open for bids - and now is the time for people to access it.

Organised by JK Property Consultants LLP in conjunction with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and supported by RICS, the purpose of the seminar was to set out the application criteria for the fund and kick start a new round of submissions.

Tasked with driving economic growth, the North East LEP manages £25m of the government’s £500m GPF and the first round of bidding opened earlier this year. Of the initial applications for GPF loans, seven have been successful and are due to be announced in the next few weeks.

Addressing those present, North East LEP chief executive Edward Twiddy presented a compelling argument for why it is vital to capitalise on the investment available if the region is to finally move forward with developments that stalled with the recession. He said: “The GPF is our opportunity to push ahead with key developments that will drive economic growth but until now have been unable to progress due to a lack of investment.

“We all know this region needs investment to create jobs and generate wealth. Shortage of finance need no longer be a problem for those offering a strategic fit with our objectives. The selection criteria and process is in place to distribute the money and we are urging people to capitalise on this and all the support available.”

Mr Twiddy continued: “This is a sustainable pot of money in that as soon as investments are repaid, the funds will be redistributed. With this in mind we are urging eligible parties to act quickly, particularly where projects are ready to go and match funding is in place, so we can recycle the investment and spread the benefits far and wide.”

JK Property Consultant’s principal Kevan Carrick also addressed the property community gathered at the event. Speaking about the challenges that face the regional property sector before construction can start, he said: “The GPF is our opportunity to get back on track after several years in which developments have stagnated and some of the big ideas that could have boosted our economy were placed on the back burner.

“The reality we face is that much enabling work needs to be carried out before construction can begin but the good news is the fund can provide the investment to make this happen.

“Interested parties who can prove that their sites are ‘oven ready’ – ie they have planning permission in place, land ownership secured and are ready to start – stand a great chance of securing funding and should act immediately to get their bid in.”

North East LEP board member Jeremy Middleton chaired the event and also urged the audience into action: “We have money available now that we would like to put to work. The more great projects we start, the more chance we have of raising more money.

“We’d like to see as many bids as possible. It’s absolutely key we have good projects coming through because we should receive the monies from those we finance in the not too distant future and therefore need to have the next generation of recipients ready and waiting. Furthermore, we need projects sitting in the wings in case any of the ones in progress don’t go ahead. We will be measured on what we achieve and we are determined to make success happen for the long-term benefit of everyone here in the North East.”

The North East LEP GPF selection criteria is as follows:

- Project must be a strategic fit with the North East LEP’s objectives in that the investment will boost economic growth or deliver vital infrastructure.

- Project must be ready to start with match funding in place.

- Funding gap means initiative can only happen with investment from the GPF.

- The money can be repaid swiftly to allow for reinvestment.

For more information on the GPF, please visit: www.nelep.co.uk.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sarah Waddington .

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