County lands huge £200m windfall to help growth

West Herts College's Hemel Hempstead campus
West Herts College's Hemel Hempstead campus

More than £200m of Government funding has been allocated to help regeneration in Hertfordshire – including £5 million towards redeveloping West Herts College in Hemel Hempstead.

The funding was secured by the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and it includes £5m to redevelop the college’s campus in the town centre.

Herts was just outside the top ten in the list of funding allocated to 40 different areas.

It will also help to deliver 16,000 additional homes and around 13,000 new jobs.

The LEP is also hoping to secure an additional £200 million private sector investment to support skills and training programmes at the college, which also has a campus at Kings Langley.

Andy Forbes, chair of Hertfordshire LEP’s skills and employment board and principal at Hertford Regional College said: “Funding for West Herts College’s town centre campus will deliver a major boost to skills provision in the area.”

West Herts College vice principal Gill Worgan added: “We have big ambitions for our town centre campus in Hemel Hempstead and this additional funding via Hertfordshire LEP will go a long way to meeting the skills and training needs of local people.

“It will allow us to extend the range of professional facilities we have in mind for the new college.

“In the meantime, I look forward to outlining our proposals in greater detail as part of wider consultation.”

The funding also includes £18.85 million to establish three Growth Area Forums to advance housing and employment sites by 2020/21.

It also includes £5.3 million in investment to create space for businesses at sites including Broxbourne.

John Gourd, chair of the Hertfordshire LEP board said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Government has recognised the importance of targeted investment in Hertfordshire’s infrastructure, skills and businesses in ensuring that we meet our incredible economic potential.

“It is also great to see a real commitment to developing our skills and businesses through additional funding for projects like Broxbourne Enterprise Centre.”

Transport improvements will also be supported through a £15 million package of measures in the south-west of the county, beginning with £170,000 in 2015/16.

Labour Euro MEP Richard Howitt welcomed the money but said the Government should be providing more.

Mr Howitt said: “Labour has announced bold plans to decentralise powers and budgets to give local areas the tools they need to power local jobs and growth.

“Our Growth Review recommended devolving £30bn of spending to local areas.

“I welcome the money for Hertfordshire but the government’s announcement today falls short by fifteen times of Labour’s plans, with only a small fraction of the £30bn being devolved, no decentralization of powers over skills, infrastructure and employment and no proposals for city regions to benefit from increased business rates revenue.

“The Government says EU funds will be spent nationally, not in the region, so they are giving with one hand but taking with the other.

“The Tory-led government came into office promising to rebalance the economy and spur regional growth, but instead we’ve seen things go into reverse as the regional and local areas have been held back.

“We need to see growth built on the talents of all and producing better-paid, high-skilled jobs in all parts of the country.”

Herts County Council’s cabinet member for enterprise Chris Hayward also welcomed the news.

He said: “This is good news for Hertfordshire and I am pleased that the government has recognised the importance of investing in the county and the key role we can play in driving growth.

“This funding will enable key transport and infrastructure schemes to be delivered, helping to strengthen the economy and support the development of new and existing businesses in the area.

“As an instrumental partner in the establishment of Hertfordshire’s LEP, the county council continues to have a key role in ensuring Hertfordshire remains open for business and has the necessary infrastructure in place to support economic growth.”

Mr Hayward added he wanted to see ‘smart growth’ across Hertfordshire.

He said: “The county council is keen to see growth in Hertfordshire, but we want smart growth.

“A significant amount of thought and planning has gone in to ensuring that growth happens in the right areas at the right time, and brings about wide ranging economic benefits.”