A deal to invest more than £170 million in the Greater Brighton city region was signed this morning (Tuesday 11 March).
The City Deal is intended to mark the start of a commitment by the government to invest in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area.
It is also intended to build on emerging local success stories such as Brighton’s creative-tech cluster of businesses.
The sector has grown from nothing to more than 1,500 firms since the turn of the millennium and is regarded as a rival to “Tech City” in east London.
The Greater Brighton City Deal includes plans to spend £24.5 million on a makeover of New England House, near Preston Circus.
The building will be refurbished and extended with broadband speeds expected to rise significantly.
Cities Minister Greg Clark, a Conservative member of the coalition government, visited the offices of Wired Sussex in New England House this morning to sign the City Deal in person.
The agreement had already been signed by the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Others signing the City Deal included Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat and his counterparts in Lewes, Mid Sussex, Adur and Worthing.
Mr Peel congratulated the politicians for reaching out beyond their boundaries and rising above party differences to work together in the public good.
Mr Peel said: “This is excellent news for the people and businesses of the Greater Brighton area.
“The City Deal is likely to significantly increase confidence among those currently considering investment in the area and provide exceptional opportunities for future growth.
“It is a fine example of how partnerships between the public and private sectors can make a significant difference to the future prosperity of an area.”
Councillor Kitcat said: “People do not recognise boundaries. That’s not to ignore all the unique areas.
“This is an over-arching partnership and other areas will continue with their distinctiveness.
“Today is not the end. For me this is just the beginning of a great opportunity for local government.”
He said that it would mean more powers being devolved from the government to the Greater Brighton city region.
He added: “Many other countries have done this and created greater city regions and this will mean real change in our areas.
“The ambition and commitment which have brought City Deal to fruition will also mean we can bring more jobs and better housing, better infrastructure and a more vibrant regional long-term economy.”
Mr Clark said: “This is a part of the country that has such a lot going for it.
“This is one of the places that is going to drive growth not just locally but across the United Kingdom.
“And your neighbours are very much part of the local economy.”
He highlighted the investment in the digital media and creative technology sector in Brighton as well as money being spent on coastal flood defences for Shoreham and Newhaven.
Mr Clark said: “What’s exciting is the collaboration between business, the universities and local authorities.
“The reputation of this place, which is already strong, is going to go from strength to strength.”
Those behind the City Deal expect it to help create 1,300 jobs in the short term rising to an estimated 8,500 over the coming few years.
And they will form the Greater Brighton Economic Board which will meet for the first time in April.
The board will bring together public sector leaders, business partners and educational representatives to oversee a six-year programme of investment in jobs, housing and business and skills support.
The Greater Brighton Economic Board has four key priorities
- Creating more jobs and businesses through a new network of growth centres across the Greater Brighton City Region
- Achieving higher wages and skills, working with local universities and colleges to create high-value jobs and develop skills to meet the needs of new sectors in a changing economy
- Creating more and better housing and employment space and investing in infrastructure
- Providing business support and grants
The partners represented on the board will work together to influence and shape future government policy to boost the local economy and champion local regeneration.
They aim to show how local solutions are more effective than national interventions.
The board is also keen bring the Greater Brighton area the benefits that arise when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.