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Shovel-ready projects set for £10.5m funding boost

Jim Jackson

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) has set out its priority projects for the Getting Building Fund – a £283.45m fund announced by the Prime Minister as part of his ‘New Deal’ to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure for the North West.

CLEP received a £10.5m boost from the fund to support shovel-ready projects that can be delivered by March 2022, with the allocation based on population, COVID-19 exposure and resilience.

Two projects have been prioritised to receive investment from the Getting Building Fund to create new jobs and deliver important connectivity improvements in the county.

Firstly, a Vertical Farming Centre of Excellence at Lillyhall inAllerdale will create one of the largest integrated vertical farming operations in the UK. This will complement Cumbria’s existing exceptional food production offer and create 360 new jobs. A £5.5m grant will unlock £48.8m of private sector investment and create a 70,000m2 carbon neutral facility.

Secondly, a further £5m will be invested to deliver strategic road improvements on the A595 at Bothel. The scheme will enable essential junction enhancements at Bothel/Torpenhow as well as preliminary works to enable a larger scheme that will deliver climbing lanes and broader route alignment.

CLEP will be working with both of the projects to ensure that they meet key value for money and deliverability tests before the funding is confirmed.

Jim Jackson, Chair of CLEP’s Investment Panel, welcomed the additional funding from Government: “The allocation of £10.5m will enable CLEP to invest in two key projects that will deliver the ambitions of our Local Industrial Strategy and support Cumbria on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The creation of a Vertical Farm at Lillyhall will be an important addition to Cumbria’s exceptional food offer alongside our existing meat and dairy offer. It will make an important contribution to food security and significantly reduce the water required in crop growing.

“The A595 is the key route between Carlisle and Southern Scotland and Copeland and Allerdale. Reliability and safety issues have affected the road around Bothel and the planned improvements will alleviate these issues. Importantly, it will also support West Cumbria’s potential to grow its clean energy offer and secure investment in this.”

Councillor Mike Johnson, Deputy Leader of Allerdale Borough Council and Executive Member: Economic Growth, Community Development and Placemaking, said: “It is great to see such significant investment coming into Allerdale with these two key projects helping to provide hundreds of new jobs for the area and much-needed improvements in infrastructure.

“The Vertical Farm at Lillyhall will not only provide jobs for local people but it will also be an excellent addition to the already fantastic food production offer here in Allerdale and any improvements to the A595 are extremely welcome, as it will help further unlock the economic potential in west Cumbria and make this key route safer for the many people who use it every day.

“I’d like to thank the Cumbria LEP and the Government for enabling these projects to move forward and as a Council we will continue to work with our partners to help improve lives and improve futures for our residents.”

Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, said: “I am delighted to see such large investment in my constituency and I welcome the assistance provided by Cumbria LEP and Central Government which has enabled such a large amount of private investment to be unlocked.

“The Vertical Farming Centre of Excellence will make a significant contribution to the Workington constituency. The prospect of 360 new jobs in a carbon neutral facility is fantastic for our area.

“Infrastructure within Cumbria is poor. I, along with my other parliamentary colleagues in Cumbria have been working hard lobbying Government for A595 improvements. I welcome the proposed improvements at Bothel and I will continue to push for more improvements to make journeys along the A595 shorter and safer.”

Councillor Keith Little, Highways and Transport at Cumbria County Council, said: “Improvements to the A595 within the vicinity of Bothel will not only improve journey times and help boost the county’s economy but also create a safer and more resilient road network.

“Last year the County Council submitted a business case to Government for delivery funding for a series of improvements including climbing lanes to the south west of the Bothel, improved alignment and junction improvements; a decision on this funding is awaited.

“The additional Getting Building funding is a real boost; helping to move things forward with the delivery of an improvement at the Greyhound/Torpenhow junction together with preliminary works for the larger scheme which of course will continue to develop in consultation with the local community. Alongside this, the Council is developing a proposal to introduce a 50mph speed limit past Bothel with consultation on this to take place during the Autumn.”

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