Next phase of the country’s largest growth deal settlement now heading into delivery

£1bn Leeds City Region Growth Deal is the largest such devolved investment programme in the UK overall and per capita. 

  •  Deal is set to create 36,000 jobs in the North 
  •  This investment includes £79m investment in new college facilities – the largest package of skills capital investment in the country

Government investment is matched by major commercial investment – Leeds is the top destination for foreign investment in the region 

The next phase of the largest package of Local Growth Deal investment in the country was agreed today in Leeds as council and business leaders from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority approved a further £64m of investment in new infrastructure and job creating schemes.

The overall £1bn Leeds City Region Growth Deal is a five-year programme of investment that is ultimately expected to create close to 36,000 new jobs and boost the North’s economy to the tune of £3.7bn a year.

The Deal was agreed between the City Region’s council and business leaders and HM Government in 2014. Unlike anywhere else in the country, the Deal included a 20-year transport funding settlement and “gain-share” powers that have only recently been secured by other city regions through mayoral devolution deals.

As well as representing the largest Growth Deal investment in the country, the Leeds City Region Deal also represents the largest share of investment per head of population. This is especially significant since it is the UK’s largest city region outside the capital by both population and size of the economy.

Cllr Peter Box CBE, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Wakefield Council said: 

“There continues to be a lot of talk about devolution. Here in Leeds City Region, we’ve already been quietly getting on with the business of delivering devolution over the past year and are now beginning to see what can be achieved through local leadership, locally determined priorities and genuine partnership working between councils and business.

“In 2014 we secured the country’s largest share of Growth Deal funding, including funding and powers for much-needed transport improvements that have only recently been matched by other city regions. The impact of this investment is now being felt through new and improved road and rail links, world-class college and university facilities for our young people and new business investment brought forward.”

By far the bulk of the Leeds City Region’s Growth Deal funding is for new transport infrastructure and a number of schemes are already under construction to improve local road and rail links in preparation for the transformative arrival of HS2.

Leeds South Bank – the future site of the North’s main HS2 gateway – is already the largest regeneration area in Europe, and the development of the “Yorkshire Hub” station is set to transform it into “the St Pancras of the North” according to HS2 Ltd’s Chairman, Sir David Higgins.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority – which is delivering the Leeds City Region Growth Deal and is also the region’s transport authority – is the only transport body outside London to have delivered two new stations in the past year – Apperley Bridge station in Bradford and Kirkstall Forge in Leeds – following on from its award-winning development of Leeds Station’s Southern Entrance, which now serves 20,000 people a day travelling through the busiest station in the North.

As well as providing new and improved commuter links between Leeds and other towns and cities in the City Region, these schemes are also bringing forward significant commercial investment. The Kirkstall Forge development alone – a £400m “urban village” a 15-minute train ride from Leeds city centre – will have 6,000 people living and working on the brownfield site by 2030.

The scale of commercial investment into the Leeds City Region in recent years has helped elevate Yorkshire and Humber into the top three destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI) outside London, according to EY’s 2015 FDI rankings, with Leeds itself the top destination for foreign investment in the region.

The hotly anticipated launch of the £165m Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds this autumn – bringing with it a new flagship John Lewis store – caps £1 billion of retail investment in across Leeds City Region since 2011. John Lewis’s presence also extends to a 50,500 sq ft state-of-the-art distribution centre in the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone, one of the most advanced enterprise zones in the country.

The Combined Authority’s Growth Deal investment isn’t limited to hard infrastructure: it’s also helping to develop a new generation of talent and skilled workers through £79m investment in new college facilities – again, the largest programme of skills capital investment outside London.

Projects that have benefitted from this funding include a newly agreed specialist healthcare and life science training centre for Leeds City College, developing innovation and technical skills in this fast-growing sector – which in Leeds City Region grew at nearly double the rate of the national average between 2014 and 2015.

The Leeds City College project follows from the launch of a national Process Manufacturing Centre in Huddersfield in October, which has benefitted from £3.1m Growth Deal funding. This new Centre is the result of a pioneering partnership between Kirklees College, public sector partners including the local council, Combined Authority and LEP, and leading national and regional engineering businesses. The Centre will train young people on cutting-edge equipment used in industry with the aim of fast-tracking their careers in the chemical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors. 

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which secured the Growth Deal funding from Government in 2014 said:

“We are now well on our way towards putting our ambitions of transforming the Leeds City Region economy into action. Our £1bn-plus programme of transport and other infrastructure investment is picking up real pace and over the next five years we’re set to create close to 36,000 new jobs in the region.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg however, and we intend to keep making loud and clear our strong case for greater government and commercial investment in the region to realise our ultimate goal of being a region that helps drive the national economy, and where people can have both a great career and an outstanding quality of life.”