The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is investing £33m to support the development of new homes, employment sites and infrastructure across the region.
The WECA Committee agreed, on Friday 4 December, to allocate £21m to create a new Development Infrastructure Fund (DIF) which will invest in housing and economic development infrastructure. It builds upon the model of WECA’s Land Acquisition Fund, with the aim that funds are repaid in whole or part depending upon the specifics of each application.
The Hengrove Park development, Bristol City Council’s flagship housing development in south Bristol, is the first scheme to be supported by the new regional fund. It will support the delivery of 1,435 new homes (30% affordable), 12,000m2 of new employment, commercial, retail, education and community space, a public park and sports pitches.
The Committee allocated £12m (through the DIF) for enabling works and earmarked a further £7.8m beyond March 2023, to be confirmed at full business case, with £5m to be repaid by Bristol City Council to the WECA Investment Fund.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “This investment will help make sure much-needed homes are built more quickly. We need more homes for our residents to buy and rent – in the right places and at prices people can afford.
“Creating funds like this to redevelop key sites such as Hengrove Park will benefit the whole region, and is exactly the sort of strategic approach that we just wouldn’t see happen without a Combined Authority in our region. We’re making real progress and getting the job done to help secure our region’s recovery and future.”
The WECA funding will be used for a range of enabling infrastructure to unlock the Hengrove Park development, including funding towards the costs of improved highways, walking and cycling infrastructure, and potentially utilities, sustainable urban drainage, and a low carbon energy solution.
The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said: “Our decision today is a major step forward for the Hengrove Park project. The funding will enable us to bring forward the new homes and the wider redevelopment at a faster pace, and deliver the economic benefits of the scheme earlier.
The redevelopment of Hengrove Park, which has a gross development value of £300 million, will deliver huge economic benefit to the West of England economy including 547 jobs per annum over the 25-year period, contributing to the post-Covid economic recovery of South Bristol and benefitting the whole city and the city-region for years to come.”
In addition, the WECA Committee agreed to increase the allocation for the Land Acquisition Fund by £8m, based on the example set by the fund’s support for the Bath Riverside development.
WECA is allocating £2m to create a Housing and Regeneration Enabling Fund – this would be used to accelerate and bring forward viable business cases to unlock more strategic sites for developing housing and employment opportunities; enabling them to be considered for DIF funding, and/or other funding opportunities. The fund seeks to attract further investment into the region.
The Combined Authority is committing a further £2m to support strategic masterplanning projects, with expected locations including Bath City Centre and Milsom Quarter, the East Fringe, Severnside, Somer Valley Enterprise Zone/Midsomer Norton and Parkway Station.