Wednesday, February 3, 2016

News: SCR developing £50m property fund

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A £51m property investment fund is being finalised to help kickstart development in the Sheffield city region (SCR).

The revolving fund builds on the previous work undertaken by the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to create a Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) fund, a financial engineering mechanism used to create a revolving fund that could be used for regeneration projects such as the creation of new commercial floorspace, brownfield redevelopment or investment in infrastructure.

The Infrastructure Executive Board of the LEP and combined authority is close to signing off an Investment Strategy for the city region. It should include a property investment fund which will bring together £23m in European funds, £18m from the city region's allocation of the Growing Places Fund (GPF) and £10m from the SCRIF.

The Sheffield city region investment fund for strategic infrastructure investment (SCRIF) is a framework of funding streams to deliver essential strategic infrastructure to increase economic growth and jobs in Sheffield city region. It has been used to fund schemes such as the South Yorkshire Broadband project and the important Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS) that is creating a new link road to Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield.

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An Integrated Infrastructure Plan is being developed to direct future investment. The innovative commissioning model is though to be the first integrated infrastructure plan outside of London.

As part of the Sheffield city region devolution deal with the Government, it is hoped that a central pot of upfront Government funding can be created to invest in "major future infrastructure programmes across transport, housing and innovation assets through more effective phasing of investment, provision of long-term certainty and the development of packages of finance investment that leverage private sector investment."

The initial £23m Sheffield City Region JESSICA fund has been used to successfully bring forward projects such as development plots on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham. Developer, Harworth Estates used a £2.7m loan to pay for infrastructure works and the construction of new manufacturing units at R-evolution (picture).

Work is also taking place on the creation of a Enterprise Zone Development Fund for the Sheffield City Region. £5m of funding could be used to provide loans or equity finance, rental guarantees, money for acquisitions or in the form of grants.

In addition, a £52m pot secured by the LEP is set to be split into two funds - one to help grow existing businesses, and one to help secure inward investment. Half of the fund is to be used to "unlock" direct business investment, principally within SMEs, the footprint of which must be sustainable, private sector employment in the Sheffield city region. The other half of the fund is to be used "to support significant inward investment."

Sheffield City Region LEP website

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