Today sees the launch of a landmark partnership scheme to spearhead economic growth in the region and give a huge boost to delivering new jobs, homes and investment.
The Northern Gateway Development Zone will supercharge economic growth and the Northern Powerhouse by connecting with the Midlands Engine to capitalise on the economic potential of HS2.
The Northern Gateway Partnership is a ground-breaking collaboration of seven local authorities – including Cheshire East Council – and the Cheshire and Warrington and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
It aims to unlock major new growth and investment opportunities which could deliver more than 100,000 new homes and 120,000 new jobs by 2040 by creating a new growth zone at the gateway to the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
To drive the project forward, the two LEPs have signed a concordat committing them, supported by the wider network of local authority partners, to work together to ensure plan-led sustainable targeted growth and optimise the benefits of HS2 investment.
The Northern Gateway spans Cheshire and North Staffordshire including the city of Stoke on Trent, Crewe and the A500 corridor.
Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This is a really exciting project that will be hugely economically significant – not just regionally but nationally.
“It marks a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help realise the full economic potential for the Cheshire/Staffordshire region that investment in HS2 brings. Moreover, a Northern Gateway Development Zone would help supercharge the Northern Powerhouse and help successfully rebalance the economy of UK plc.
“We are confident this joint growth strategy will become a national exemplar of strategy-led regeneration and development to deliver really significant jobs and growth.”
The partners working together to deliver growth opportunities include the two LEPs, Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough Council, Stafford Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and Stoke-on-Trent Council.
The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, has previously confirmed his intention to introduce a dedicated hybrid bill to bring HS2 to the North of England sooner than planned, subject to further analysis and decisions on the preferred route.
The prospect of this investment in HS2 to the North is the catalyst for this new growth-focused partnership.
The Northern Gateway partners are also committed to capitalising immediately on the Cheshire/Staffordshire region’s unique position as the bridging link between the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “Staffordshire and Cheshire are in a pivotal location at the heart of the UK, linking the Midlands Engine with the Northern Powerhouse.
“This innovative new partnership represents a great opportunity with massive potential by working together to benefit local people by bringing jobs and growth to our area.”
Christine Gaskell, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “The Northern Gateway Partnership will put the North and the Midlands in a strong position to deliver nationally significant economic growth, capitalising on the opportunities and investment that will be generated by HS2.
“Committing to work across boundaries and regions will enable us to work together in a joined up and strategic way, with the backing of Government, to maximise our role in delivering the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.”
HS2 presents a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ to become an engine for growth across the UK – not only providing 360-degree North, South, East and West rail and road capacity and connectivity across regions but also stimulating new jobs and investment across the region and beyond.