Headlines: January 3rd, 2007

CITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANIES TAKING SHAPE

 

The new style city development companies, proposed in the local government white paper, will look very much like Urban Regeneration Companies. A consultation document from the Department for Communities and Local Government sets out reasons for favouring the URG model.

The companies will be formed to drive economic growth and regeneration and to act as a catalyst for the revival of urban areas and local economies, in particular through improving the physical platform from which cities can attract greater levels of investment. Creation of the companies is seen as an evolutionary, bottom up, process led by local government and its partners. From this it follows that there will be no central prescription for either the model of company or the localities where they might be set up. It is intended that companies will be set up in cities, city regions and collections of cities and towns.

The Urban Regeneration Companies model is preferred because they have proved successful in attracting private investment into places, in coordinating economic development delivery and funding, and in providing economic leadership through the devising and implementation of economic masterplans for areas. They also allow the combination and aggregation of existing vehicles and this facility would make best use of resources and deliver a more integrated and streamlined approach to economic development issues.

In following the URC model, city development companies would not hold land assets or engage in the direct delivery of capital projects. They would coordinate delivery through their partners, including through the use of partners’ compulsory purchase and planning powers.

City development companies could generally be established as companies limited by guarantee and will not operate on a profit making or dividend issuing basis. They would act more as the business facing arm in coordinating inputs from local and regional public sector bodies. Membership would include local authorities alongside the Regional Development Agency and English Partnerships or other partners.

The consultation paper seeks views on the advantages and risks in moving towards a more unified approach to economic development at the city or city-regional level. Feedback is also needed on whether a variation on the URC model is the best approach for city development. There will be a public web forum at http://forum.communities.gov.uk/cdcs   Consultation ends on 27 March 2007.