TIME TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE LEP IS SPENDING OUR MONEY EFFECTIVELY

Published 7 December 2018

LEP Map

Image: newanglia.co.uk

There will be those who think that commercial property investment should be solely driven by market forces, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes growth and investment need to be kickstarted, and that is the stance taken by our Local Enterprise Partnership, the New Anglia LEP.

The LEP recently announced it was making £19 million available for capital projects in the region, with the aim of boosting skills and productivity.  Although there will always be those who believe that public money should not be used to support what is essentially private sector activity, the truth is that such pump-priming is essential to get investment projects off the ground.

For commercial property investors, paying attention to where the LEP is investing makes a lot of sense, because it has a track record of creating positive environments for growth. The market simply can’t deliver without support for infrastructure, and where such investment is made from the public purse, evidence suggests that prosperity follows – just look at the private sector investment which is following in the wake of the public sector NDR in Norwich.

A quick look at the investment map on the New Anglia LEP’s website reveals a succession of effective interventions which have created the right environment for private sector investment.  Relatively small investments – such as the Beccles Southern Relief Road – will deliver disproportionate benefits.

The LEP is using its money in a wide variety of infrastructure investments, from transport improvements, supporting education and training, major infrastructure projects such as new river crossings in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, to support for new growth areas such as Scottow and Beacon Park.

It has stepped in to solve the energy issue which has been holding back growth at Snetterton, which has become a nationally important distribution centre.  You could argue that our privatised energy companies should be building sufficient capacity to enable growth, but the fact is that they haven’t, and the LEP’s investment in a new electricity sub-station will have a significant impact on the ability of Snetterton to carry on growing and providing employment as a regional distribution centre.

Any commercial property investor would do well to pay attention to the areas that the LEP is investing in.  It is all about priming the pump, laying the foundations for successful growth driven in its wake by private sector investment.

Whatever ideological concerns we might have about using public funds to create the right environment for private sector investment, the fact is that often this is the only way that major regeneration projects get out of the starting blocks.  We can either sit back and bemoan the fact that such public pump-priming is necessary – or we can accept that this public money is being effectively spent, and take advantage of the investment, employment and business opportunities which is being created in our county.

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