As Coventry prepares for two high-profile events, we look at the part the Government’s Local Growth Fund has played in financing two important infrastructure projects…

Coventry is enjoying a renaissance right now on various fronts. The city is counting down to being UK City of Culture in 2021 and the following year the area is hosting two events as part of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham when netball takes place at the Ricoh Arena and lawn bowls is played in Royal Leamington Spa.

All this means the area needs to be more connected than ever before from a transport perspective as thousands and thousands of people arrive to enjoy these events. As part of these national and international occasions, the Government’s Local Growth Fund has played a key role in providing finance towards two ambitious transport projects.

The Coventry Station Masterplan is an £82 million project to renovate the fastest growing station outside London while the prototype of the Very Light Rail vehicle will be built ahead of 2021.

The Local Growth Fund was established by the Government to give Local Enterprise Partnerships the autonomy to make decisions over projects which would boost the economy, create jobs and support jobs in their local area.

The funding for these projects from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) is part of the overall £131 million Local Growth Fund package for Coventry and Warwickshire.

Through the CWLEP, £27.5 million funding has been secured from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for Coventry Station where the work will be ready for 2021. The Masterplan is already starting to take shape to build the new-look gateway for the millions of passengers who arrive in Coventry at the Grade II listed building every year by train thanks to contractors Buckingham Group Contracting, who have been awarded the first two contracts.

This segment of the funding is going towards constructing a new footbridge and canopies along with the structural completion of the access tunnel under Warwick Road, a new station entrance and creating a 633-space multistorey car-park which will provide an additional 300 spaces at the site. There will also be a new taxi rank and boulevard ready for 2021. The scheme involves Coventry City Council working in partnership with Network Rail, Virgin Trains and other rail operators, Transport for West Midlands, Friargate Coventry LLP and other stakeholders.

Another major transport change for visitors and businesses travelling around Coventry in the near future will be the Very Light Rail system which is being driven by Coventry City Council.

The rail-based vehicle has been designed by engineers at WMG, University of Warwick, working alongside Stratford-based Transport Design International. The vehicle for up to 50 passengers will be electric-powered and has been designed with the view to being autonomous in the future.

The Government’s Local Growth Fund has contributed £2.46 million towards phase one of the research and design of the prototype and £12.2 million has been secured from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Devolution Deal to undertake the research and development required to prove the VLR concept.

The WMCA has also allocated specialist resource from Transport for West Midlands to provide technical support, advice and guidance to the project team as the scheme develops. The light and highly portable track system will run between Coventry Station and University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire via the city centre.

Jonathan Browning, Chair of the CWLEP, said: ‘This is a very exciting time for Coventry and Warwickshire as we showcase the area to a national and global audience during UK City of Culture in 2021 and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. This means we need to have a transport infrastructure in place to welcome visitors which is befitting of holding these high-profile events and highlights the innovation we see from Coventry and Warwickshire businesses on a daily basis.

‘The Local Growth Fund has given the CWLEP the opportunity to help to fund two projects which will ensure we leave visitors with a favourable impression of Coventry and Warwickshire as well as a legacy for people who work and live in the area.’

Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone. That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12 billion through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Some additional key facts:

• There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England

• The Government has awarded £9.1 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth

• LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.

Midlands Engine 

The Government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over ten million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion. So far the government has awarded £1.9 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Midlands.

About Buckingham Group

With a company history spanning over 63 years, Buckingham Group Contracting is a major multi-disciplinary contractor with a turnover approaching £500 million. They are an established Principal Contractor providing a range of fully integrated, versatile and flexible services to Public and Private Sector Clients throughout the UK & Ireland. Operating from our Head Office, near Silverstone, and regional offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Warrington and Doncaster our services include:

• Rail Stations including new build and refurbishment

• Railways and rail engineering

• Multistorey and at-grade Car Parks

• Major Infrastructure works for development sites

• Highways, bridges and structures

• High quality Building projects, (Offices, distribution warehousing and manufacturing facilities) to BREEAM Excellent

• Sports stadia and leisure facilities

• The delivery of complex site remediation projects

• Demolition and deconstruction projects.

Tel: 01926 418 000

Email: [email protected]