Accelerating Growth, Ambition and Opportunity

2020 Vision – Director’s Blog

Last month I talked about the first five years of the UK and Scottish Government funded City Deal. This month I want to look ahead to the next five years and of course to our plans for 2020.

The City Deal is a 20 year Programme – but our intention is to accelerate and deliver projects within the first ten years, where possible. In fact, by 2024, we anticipate the majority of infrastructure contracts to be let and construction completed for most projects.

We’re doing this because accelerating the City Deal Programme allows economic benefits and outcomes from the projects to be delivered sooner.

This presents an enormous opportunity for local businesses in terms of contracts and sub contracts since our spend on infrastructure over the next five years is expected to be over £700 million – four times what we have spent to date.

The benefit from the City Deal so far is already evident – such as the upcoming £400 million Barclays Hub and our emerging Innovation Districts – all underpinned by City Deal investment. Looking ahead to the next five years we’ll see further extensive house building, with more than 7,700 new homes built and around 500 hectares of land brought back into use – thanks to the City Deal Programme. Our balance of focus will move from the delivery of projects to maximising the extensive private sector follow on investment from the new roads built, improved connections and remediated land. In fact, we expect over 400,000 square metres of commercial, industrial and residential floor space to be realised through projected follow-on investment. So there is an enormous opportunity for developers and investors.

I’ll continue to update on this throughout the year.

2020 is set to be a momentous year for Glasgow and the wider Region.

COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, will take place in Glasgow in November. As the biggest event the country has ever hosted, the benefit to the hospitality sector alone is expected to be over £70 million and the unprecedented international exposure will promote the Region to a wider global audience. COP26 will also help to accelerate our efforts to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to hearing back from our UK and Scottish Government partners regarding our City Deal Gateway Review – which is set to release the next tranche of £250 million in City Deal funding.

Glasgow’s State of the City Economy conference took place earlier this month. Over 800 attendees from across the city’s businesses and public organisations heard Council Leader and GCR Cabinet Chair, Susan Aitken make a compelling case for a Glasgow metro – a sustainable transport solution which would improve connectivity, access to jobs and build on our potential as a global city and Region. We’ll continue to work closely with the Scottish Government on the Connectivity Commission’s recommendations and complete feasibility work required to ensure it can be considered as a key, national project.

At the event, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work also announced an exciting, new initiative to boost the role of the river Clyde in the Region’s future economic success. This work will support our ambitions for inclusive growth and climate resilience and help draw further investment to numerous sites in key locations along the spine of the river – including many City Deal funded projects.

This month the Glasgow City Region Education Collaborative is hosting a Primary Curriculum conference to empower practitioners and showcase innovation across the Region. The Deputy First Minister will speak at the event and a similar session is planned in February for Early Learning and Childcare practitioners.  

We have much to look forward to in the year ahead.

The £18 million contract for the new ‘street in the sky’ pedestrian and cycle bridge over the M8 connecting Sighthill to the city centre has just been awarded and work will start soon. A new city park is also set to open at Sighthill later in the year.

At Ocean Terminal in Greenock, we anticipate completion of the Marine Works and the floating of the new pontoon. In East Renfrewshire, Greenlaw Business Centre will formally open in the next few months, providing modern office accommodation and support for local small businesses. Construction is also set to start on the Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside project.

The first Smart Canal in Europe will complete soon. This innovative project combines new technology with the 250 year old Forth and Clyde Canal to mitigate flood risk and unlock 110 hectares in north Glasgow for investment and 3,000 new homes.

We will continue to work across our eight partner councils and closely with the UK and Scottish Governments to grow the City Region economy and we will refresh our Regional Economic Strategy in the coming months.

Our success to date, established partnership and structures along with work to better understand our comparative performance and challenges will direct our priorities, support our decision making and the actions required for us to deliver economic growth for all.

All of this is provides a strong platform from which we can accelerate our ambitions for people, businesses and place and position ourselves to most effectively compete with other city regions.

Kevin Rush is Director of Regional Economic Growth at Glasgow City Region