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Views sought on new ambitions for city’s economic growth

Published on 24 August 2016

AN ambitious council plan to support economic growth in Leicester is set to be revised to reflect the city’s growing ambitions.

Launched in 2012, the Leicester Economic Action Plan set out aims for job creation, inward investment and business support in the city up until 2020.

Many of the targets set in 2012 have already been reached, or bettered, and the city council is now planning to relaunch its plan with new and more ambitious aims for the next four years.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Our first Economic Action Plan set out ambitious plans for the city during a time of difficult economic circumstances.

“At that point, it would have been impossible to predict the incredible success the city has enjoyed over the last four years.

“The discovery and interment of Richard III’s remains and Leicester City’s incredible Premier League triumph have captured imaginations around the world and propelled Leicester onto a global stage in a way we have never before seen.

“It is vital we continue to celebrate our city’s strengths and build on this growing confidence to help secure a prosperous future.

“In the last four years, we have already seen major inward investment and thousands of new jobs created, with firms like IBM and Hastings Insurance choosing Leicester as a base for new investment.

“The city centre is being transformed, with new public spaces, more attractive streets and an impressive new bus station helping attract more people to live, work and invest in Leicester.

“The Economic Action Plan has helped guide and support the city’s growth since 2012, but it is right we now renew its ambitions for the next four years. It is vital that we continue to thrive and compete, and to do so we must continue to invest in improving our city.

“Our success so far, has been down to strong partnership working and we will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that Leicester continues to grow as a great city.”

In 2012, the Economic Action Plan set out to secure £60milllion of investment by 2020, to support jobs and growth in the city. Around £70milllion has already been secured, and the council is aiming for an additional £100million by 2020.

The Economic Action Plan has so far helped attract around £30milllion of inward investment, and the revised plan aims for an additional £50milllion of new inward investment by 2020.

Over 1,900 local businesses have been supported so far, with grants ranging from £1,000 to £1million. The new plan aims to help 1,500 more local firms, almost doubling the 2012 target.

Apprenticeship targets have been smashed. Over 880 new apprenticeships have been created since 2012, over four times the plan’s original target of 200. The plan sets a new ambition of 1,000 more new apprenticeships by 2020. Young people have also benefitted from the creation of almost 600 new work placement and graduate opportunities.

Job creation ambitions are well on track. The Economic Action Plan has supported the creation of over 5,100 new jobs since 2012, with 3,000 more planned for the next four years.

The number of new homes built has also exceeded the target set in 2012. Over 5,300 new homes have been built in the city over the last four years, well above the plan’s initial target of 3,500. The new plans sets a target of a further 6,800 new homes to be built by 2020.

It also sets an ambitious target of delivering superfast broadband to over 99 per cent of Leicester households in the next four years.

The new plan also includes major development planned at Waterside, Ashton Green and Pioneer Park, all of which will provide new infrastructure to unlock future economic growth.

Work to transform and improve the city centre will continue through the redevelopment of Leicester Market and the former New Walk Centre site, and major improvement schemes in the Cultural Quarter and Old Town area.

Leicester is estimated to have welcomed over 10milllion visitors, worth around £570milllion to the local economy, in 2015. Further investment in tourism, to promote and keep Leicester on the international map, is a key feature of the new plan. This will include work to modernise key visitor attractions, attract more visitors to the city’s festivals and events and support our national sports clubs to invest and improve.

A draft version of the new Leicester Economic Action Plan (2016-2020) – called ‘Leicester: Great City’ – will be discussed at the next meeting of the council’s Economic Development, Transport and Tourism Scrutiny Committee on Thursday, September 1.

The draft plan is due to be released for public consultation in mid-September.