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East Midlands Development Corporation to ask Treasury for financial backing

A development company set up to drive major change across the East Midlands will go to the Treasury for backing this year.

Plans to create the East Midlands Development Corporation (DevCo) were approved in December 2020 in a bid to bring investment and jobs into the region on several key projects.

A DevCo is a non-profit organisation set up by local or national governments for the purpose of economic regeneration and is often responsible for the redevelopment of existing areas.

Projects currently under the control of the East Midlands DevCo include new developments in Toton and at the Chetwynd Barracks site, at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, and around the East Midlands Airport area.

Progress made since the DevCo was first established include plans to set up three key ‘freeport’ sites at the power station, near the airport and at Derbyshire’s Toyota Island.

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The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan also confirmed major changes to HS2 in November, with Toton no longer due to host a high-speed railway station in favour of East Midlands Parkway in Rushcliffe.

Documents confirm the DevCo will now carry out development and infrastructure studies to assess how the change will impact the East Midlands economy.

And now Nottinghamshire County Council’s finance committee has been provided with an update on the corporation following its first year in operation.

The finance committee heard £1.62 million will be provided to the corporation through Government grants issued directly to the council, which will help it with oversight and control over the three sites.

This comes alongside £1.5 million provided over three years by the Conservative-led county council, which hosts the organisation, and match-funding from the Government.

Cllr Bruce Laughton (Con), deputy leader of the council, welcomed progress with the DevCo and confirmed it is going to the Treasury for additional backing this year.

Speaking in the meeting on Monday (9 May), he said: “Treasury backing on the company itself will have a massive impact on its ability to develop out areas across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

“It’s going to have a real impact on the number of jobs in the area and the financial viability of the area. It’s a real positive and I welcome all the moves.

“The positives to come out of this are enormous. It will only make an improvement to the area.”

The East Midlands Freeport bid is now in its final stages and could lead to tens of thousands of jobs coming to the region.

This includes the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site, under the oversight of the DevCo, which will become a “hub for clean energy”.

Ken Harrison, programme director at the East Midlands DevCo, confirmed the company has been in “close contact” with the Government since its inception and wants to ensure the company is locally-led.

He told councillors: “In terms of financial support, we have received £1.5 million of match funding [from the Government] and we’re in close contact with them.

“We’re making good progress to advance the DevCo as a locally-led development corporation, and we continue to actively engage with the Government positively.

“We were one of 25 pathfinders announced by the Government to bring forward a design code for the three sites under our control.”

The DevCo, which is monitored by councils including Derbyshire County and Derby City, will now continue exploring development opportunities around the three sites.

But Cllr Mike Pringle (Lab), who represents Ollerton on Nottinghamshire Council, says while he is supportive of the DevCo, there is going to be “scrutiny” from the opposition.

He also warned of potential changes to the plans moving forward after the Conservatives lost overall control of Derby City Council in last week’s election.

“I’m not against the DevCo at all,” Cllr Pringle said. “I think it’s brilliant and it resonates with positivity – but it’s not to say I’m completely sold at this moment in time.

“There are some impressive businesses involved in this and it is a positive for the future, certainly, and the infancy of it is positive.

“But that doesn’t mean to say there’s not going to be scrutiny into this.

“There will be changes to this, there’s already a political change in Derby [following last week’s local elections] and I think we need to recognise that for the DevCo to be successful we need balanced support.”

Members of the committee unanimously approved plans to transfer £1.62 million in Government grants to the DevCo.

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