Cumbria is on track to reap major benefits from a multi-million-pound investment through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
The Deal has been formally signed today, Thursday March 18, by Ministers and Leaders at a virtual ceremony, which will see £350 million government investment to the Borderlands area.
The long-term benefits of the Deal will reach all parts of the Borderlands, driving inclusive growth and delivering significant and lasting benefits for individuals, businesses and communities.
Projects agreed in the Deal for Cumbria include:
- Carlisle Station Gateway – will see £20m of investment into developing Carlisle Station as the gateway to Carlisle and a key transport hub with connections across the Borderlands area including preparations for the arrival of HS2 in the future.
- Carlisle Citadels – use of up to £50m of Borderlands funding to transform the Grade 1 listed Citadels buildings into a new city centre campus for the University of Cumbria, expanding opportunities for local students and drawing in new students to the area.
- Digital Borderlands – digital and mobile connectivity is critical to future business performance and even more so for dispersed rural communities in Cumbria. This project will reshape our regional economy through a share of £32.2m to address the gaps in digital and mobile infrastructure across the Borderlands catching up with other areas and putting in place the foundations for next generation connectivity.
- Destination Borderlands – will promote Borderlands as a key place to visit. Projects that have been identified are those which will increase the number of visitors as well as the length of stays. Cumbria will benefit from £18m to develop a series of projects along the length of Hadrian’s Wall (from Wallsend to Ravenglass) to improve the visitor experience and encourage people to explore different attractions within this unique World Heritage site.£6m has been allocated to the ‘See More Lake District Cycling’ project which will encourage visitors to use more sustainable transport and will help disperse the economic benefit from visitors to the Lake District World Heritage Site.
- The Place programme – will see rural towns across the Borderlands region benefiting from a £50m investment programme to help boost economic activity. Once the towns are identified, plans will be developed in and by the communities to renew the vibrancy of these places.
- Encouraging green growth – there is a commitment to invest £31m in energy projects to support ‘green’ growth through reducing carbon emissions and to contribute to the ambition of the Borderlands region being carbon neutral.This will build on energy master planning work that is underway.
Several Cumbrian MPs and leaders have shown their support of the investment including Carlisle’s MP John Stevenson and Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and the Border.
Dr Hudson welcomed the investing as he commented: “I was delighted to see the Borderlands Growth Deal formally signed today. This will help provide a welcome boost to the Cumbrian economy as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I particularly welcome that up to £10 million has been put aside for a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle and £4 million of Borderlands funding will be invested continue to connect not-spot locations through a digital voucher ‘top-up’ scheme (Digital Borderlands Voucher Scheme) working alongside the national gigabit connectivity voucher programme which will help provide connections to over 2,000 premises in Cumbria and Northumberland.
“As part of my ‘Better Connectivity’ campaign I will continue to call for improved transport links and broadband for my constituents. In addition, it is great that funding will be allocated to support the unique visitor attraction in our area that is the amazing Hadrian’s Wall.”
John Stevenson said he was ‘delighted’ and expressed his enthusiasm for working with other MPs.
“I am delighted that the Borderlands Growth Deal has been signed and that the Borderlands area, including projects in my constituency of Carlisle, will receive £350 million of investment,” he said.
“Investment into the Carlisle Station Gateway and the Carlisle Citadels projects will provide strategic and important improvements to our city.
“It has been great to work with local authorities and MPs across the Borderlands region and I think everyone has benefited from working more closely, securing this investment into our region.”
Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council said: “This is a key milestone in a long journey, and fantastic news for the county, resulting from close working with the UK and Scottish Governments over several months and years to get to this point.
“It is very welcome that we now have confirmed levels of funding for our Cumbria specific projects and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they each develop and the many benefits that they will bring to the county.
“The Deal is ambitious and will bring a much-needed economic boost post Covid-19 to aid our recovery in attracting tourists and businesses to come to Cumbria as well as enhancing the area for our residents and local communities.”
The Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal is truly distinctive, covering the largest area of any local growth deal negotiated with the UK and Scottish Governments and the first cross-border deal.
The deal aims to deliver 5,500 job opportunities, attract more than four million extra tourists to the area, improve mobile and digital connections and unlock investment in towns generating £1.1billion to the Borderlands economy.