HC Deb 24 November 1994 vol 250 cc249-50W
Mr. Day

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on English Partnerships' role and progress.

Mr. William Powell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the role and progress of English Partnerships.

Mr. Curry

English Partnerships is making excellent progress, demonstrated by the launch today of its "Investment Guide", explaining how developers, and others in the public, private and voluntary sectors can access its advice and resources to deliver effective and lasting regeneration.

English Partnerships was set up under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. Its remit, informed by the Secretary of State's guidance issued in April 1994, is to promote the regeneration of areas of need, across England, through the reclamation and development of derelict or vacant land and buildings.

English Partnerships was formed on 10 November 1993 and immediately assumed responsibility for administering the city grant programme; but only came into full operation on 1 April 1994, when it took over, in addition, the management of derelict land grant and the English Estates development programme, previously overseen by the Department of Trade and Industry.

In that short time English Partnerships, under Lord Walker's chairmanship, has made very substantial progress. It has announced a £122 million land reclamation programme; and has already approved 285 separate regeneration projects with a total English Partnerships investment of £200 million. This includes English Partnerships' key role in facilitating Samsung's £600 million inward investment at Cleveland, which will generate 3,000 jobs.

English Partnerships has now appointed six regional directors to a network of offices covering the whole of England. They will plan and deliver support for regeneration, working closely with the private sector, local authorities and communities; and liaising with the Government offices for the regions on projects within the single regeneration budget, main programmes relevant to regeneration and opportunities for European funding.

English Partnerships' "Investment Guide", a copy of which I am depositing in the Library, builds on that foundation. The guide explains the integrated approach which English Partnerships will follow and, in particular, its new unified regime for supporting regeneration strategies and projects, which will supersede the programmes it inherited. Building on the freedoms provided by the Government's private finance initiative, the new regime ensures that English Partnerships can operate as a strategic partner and investor in regeneration through a flexible mix of instruments—including grants, loans, guarantees and joint ventures—tailored to the particular needs and opportunities each project presents. Existing city grant, derelict land grant and English Estates commitments will be met.

The guide marks an important milestone. English Partnerships will now be building on its success, working with private, public and voluntary sector partners to deliver the employment and environmental benefits flowing from successful regeneration.