Councils in Lancashire are celebrating after being awarded £260,000 of funding just weeks after setting up a shadow Combined Authority for the county.
The money will go towards creating better homes for residents while opening up new areas for employment sites, potentially creating hundreds of new jobs.
The money has been granted through the Government’s One Public Estate programme, which provides practical and technical support and funding to councils to deliver property-focussed programmes.
Councillor Simon Blackburn, Chair of the shadow Lancashire Combined Authority, said: “I am delighted that the shadow Lancashire Combined Authority has been accepted onto the One Public Estate programme.
“This is a great start to our new partnership working and starts to demonstrate what we will achieve through the Combined Authority, which we expect to be formally established in April 2017.
“Through this programme we can identify and bring forward publically owned sites for economic and housing development and look more strategically at opportunities for co-location of public sector services in Lancashire, which will mean we can all be more efficient.”
The funding will provide extra capacity to get publicly-owned sites developed that may otherwise have lain derelict or not be used to their full potential for the benefit of the local communities.
The news comes just weeks after authorities submitted a request to form a Combined Authority for Lancashire signalling a decisive shift to working collaboratively across the county to deliver better outcomes for residents and businesses, creating higher growth and productivity, raising attainment and aspirations and playing a key role in the Northern Powerhouse.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, shadow Combined Authority political lead for Public Services, said: “This is great news for Lancashire. The public sector needs to change the way it works together and we are acutely aware that land and property play a vital role in driving public sector change, this funding will give us the opportunity to review public sector land and buildings, co-locate but also dispose of surplus assets generating revenue for the public sector.”
The shadow Combined Authority held its first meeting on 11 July and is developing five areas of future ambition:
· Prosperous Lancashire – a Lancashire that is recognised as a destination of choice, to invest in, do business in, live or visit;
· Connected Lancashire – digital and transport connectivity to promote inclusive growth;
· Skilled Lancashire – a skilled workforce to meet the demands of employers and future business growth;
· Better Homes for Lancashire – better living standards with good quality homes and a wide housing offer;
· Public Service Working Together for Lancashire – integrated public services at the heart of local communities giving everyone the opportunity for a healthier life.
This request to create a Combined Authority is being considered by government ministers and we expect an Order to be laid before Parliament later this year with a view to the Combined Authority being formally recognised from April 2017.