Public Sector Construction Investment can Boost the Private Sector

Steve Baker
Public sector infrastructure investment can act as a much needed catalyst for private sector development.

For the last decade, private sector investment in urban areas has helped to drive the regeneration of city centres. Economic constraints have now impacted on both the public and private sectors' ability and willingness to finance regeneration projects. Public financing of local infrastructure projects, however, can maximise the potential for private sector investment, at a time when regeneration is critical to economic recovery.

The October 2012 Confederation of British Industry (CBI) publication The UK’s growth landscape: Harnessing private sector potential across the country (PDF) highlights the opportunity for the nurturing of private sector growth throughout the UK if the right policy decisions are in place. The report also calls for key infrastructure projects to be brought forward to unlock growth where it is currently constrained.

The British Property Federation and the Local Government Association have called for kick-starting development, in their report Unlocking Growth. They jointly identify ways of boosting economic investment in the infrastructure that supports this, such as new housing, better public and road transport, improved communications networks and revitalised, regenerated public realms, as an essential component of the national growth strategy.

The public sector is increasingly looking for more innovative ways of working with the private sector.

The public sector is increasingly looking for more innovative ways of working with the private sector. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority, for example, has established the Greater Manchester Investment Fund, which combines a number of central government and European funding programmes to enable a more targeted approach to project delivery and funding. This has allowed the combined authority to provide both loan and grant funding for strategic projects that will drive the economic growth of the Manchester city region.

Faithful+Gould is currently supporting a project for Salford City Council, where public sector investment has stimulated private sector activity. Salford City Council outlined a strategic development framework for central Salford, looking at various areas and means of intervention.

Salford City Council and its landowner partners Ask Property Developments and Network Rail have set a context for transformation of an area of low economic output. The resulting £10 million urban regeneration Greengate project is intended to unlock £439 million of private sector development, providing new residential, commercial, retail and public space capacity, and creating up to 5000 new jobs in the region.

The first step towards the area's regeneration is now complete with the opening of the 1.9 hectare Greengate Square. The new square is a public space capable of hosting events, concerts and markets, and Greengate is now linked to Manchester's Medieval Quarter and retail core by a new bridge, making it easier to access the centre of the city. Completion of the first phases of public realm has resulted in an increased number of developer enquiries for sites in the heart of Greengate.

Nik Puttnam, Head of Development for the Office of the Chief Executive, Salford City Council, commented, "With the government's focus on the budget deficit measures, it is now even more important for the public and private sectors to find more innovative ways of working together. The public sector has an important role to play in this partnership and public sector funding, now more than ever before needs to maximise the unlocking of private sector investment and delivery of projects that deliver transformational economic growth to the city region".

"With the government's focus on the budget deficit measures, it is now even more important for the public and private sectors to find more innovative ways of working together."

Nik Puttnam, Salford City Council's Head of Development for the Office of the Chief Executive

Faithful+Gould's experience and skills offer support for both public and private sectors. We are experienced in preparing grant applications and business cases for local authorities and government agencies. We can also support developers to access any available regeneration funding or private lending.

Bringing stakeholders together is another area of expertise, and this may involve landowners, local authorities, planners, funders and developers. Using our core project management and commercial services skills, we offer a comprehensive service which may also include design, geotechnical and ground investigation, and health and safety services.

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