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Rishi Wishes For Levelling Up As Freeports And Civil Service Relocation Unveiled

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak

The East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East and North West did well out of chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak’s March budget; the West Midlands less so.

Whilst others got freeports and civil service relocations, the West Midlands got £50M to fund the UK Central project at Arden Cross, where up to 1,300 acres is reserved for residential and commercial development. A series of other smaller funding announcements promised to improve local rail services, as Birmingham Live reported.

In his budget statement Sunak handed a Treasury North campus to Darlington and a new national investment bank to Leeds. Yorkshire also secured the award of freeport status to the Humber Ports bid.

In the North West, Liverpool’s ambitious freeport proposals, which extend to include sites in Greater Manchester, was one of eight schemes waved through, amidst announcements that the ministerial relocations to Manchester already planned would be beefed up.

The East Midlands scored a win in the competition to secure freeport status for a bid focused on one of the UK’s largest air freight entry ports at The East Midlands Airport Gateway and Industrial Cluster and Goodman’s 5.2M SF East Midlands Intermodal Park, which bid documents said will become a next-generation, rail-connected business park with links to the rest of the country and internationally.

The site, between the M1 and the M6, is adjacent to the A50 and A38 and Toyota’s UK manufacturing plant. However, the project has yet to complete its journey through the planning process.

But there were no major prizes for the West Midlands, a surprise given the challenges posed to Conservative West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street, who faces re-election this year.

The Treasury North and Leeds investment bank relocations are both thought to be in the order of 50K SF, although full details have yet to be announced.

The Liverpool City Region’s freeport plan includes three large development sites — Parkside in St Helens, Wirral Waters and 3MG in Halton — but also extends to Peel’s Port Salford site in Greater Manchester where up to 3M SF could be developed.

The other freeport plans approved were Plymouth and South Devon, Essex, the Solent, East Felixstowe and Teesside.