Upfront funding for onsite infrastructure can be a barrier to the creation of new jobs and homes. As at July 2013 there was planning consent for some 10,000 dwellings across the Greater Norwich area which had yet to commence construction.
The City Deal signed in December 2013 gave City Deal partners the ability to borrow £20 million from the Public Works Loan Board at the project rate discount to establish a Local Infrastructure Fund. This fund will provide loans to developers for site specific help to enable development sites to be delivered quickly, and the fund will be managed on a rolling basis. The overall fund has been established from 1 November 2013 to end March 2026.
The scheme offers developers funding to deliver essential infrastructure, such as roads and transport links, which will in turn unlock developments that may otherwise have been delayed.
It will specifically support infrastructure required to open up sites for housing or employment development, realising sustainable growth in jobs, homes and commercial builds.
There have been two Calls for Schemes, in April 2014 and October 2014, and a total of 8 Expressions of Interest were received in response. The Board has considered full business cases for 5 of these schemes and agreed to approve them all in-principle, subject to due diligence processes and loan contract negotiations. One of these has since been withdrawn.
An Expression of Interest was received in March 2015 following the agreement of the Board to accept applications to the LIF outside the six monthly cycle of Board meetings. A further application was received by the Board at its meeting on 24 March 2016. These applications were subject to financial appraisal and agreed in principle, subject to due diligence processes and loan contract negotiations by the Board via email correspondence on 11 August 2015 and at the Board meeting on 24 March 2016 respectively.
In total seven applications have been approved in principle, subject to recommendations, to receive LIF funding to date. The approved schemes are:
These schemes will be subject to detailed negotiations before entering into a legal contract with Norfolk County Council, the Accountable Body for the funding. Two developments now have legal contracts that have been completed and draw-down has commenced. These are St. George's Park, Loddon and Little Plumstead.
The GNGB have also agreed to approach small and medium sized developers with the offer of a smaller scale facility over 2-3 years, based on the available identified headroom of the fund in order to maximise the impact potential of the fund.