Beginning with management of our £50m Growing Places Fund, our ambition is to build the investment fund significantly both at fund and project level attracting new investment for projects across the SE LEP area. Future investments will be made against a clear investment strategy agreed at the SE LEP Board in March 2015.
As a concept, SEFUND was introduced in our Strategic Economic Plan submitted to Government in March 2014. Further work continued to develop the potential of such a fund following our Growth Deal announcement in July 2014 and the Government’s commitment to “work with the LEP to help deliver the Fund and bring forward an implementation plan”.
On 26th September, the SE LEP Board agreed to the establishment of a SEFUND Shadow Board to oversee the design and feasibility stages of the SEFUND project. At its first meeting on 13th November at the Cabinet Office, clear terms of reference and the process to recruit consultants to undertake feasibility and design stages were agreed. Drawing on expert procurement, legal and economic development advice, CBRE and Pinsents were appointed to complete the design and delivery stages of the project with the contract awarded in December, 2014.
In completing this work, CBRE have enjoyed the very active engagement and support of members of the SEFUND Shadow Board and have conducted meetings across the SE LEP area with councils and developers. The work has also continued to attract strong encouragement from Government and has already attracted the interest of institutional and other niche investors.
In agreeing to procure an interim manager to provide support to manage SEFUND, the LEP will secure professional expertise for assessment and prioritisation of schemes which may be capable of utilising the monies received from Growing Places Fund, essential with GPF currently taking all investment risk as agreed previously by the SE LEP Board. It will enable the fund to be actively managed with support for local projects to ensure the best outcomes for investment. It will also provide a clear route for decision for existing projects wishing to amend loan terms including delayed repayments or re-financing.
The Design paper and Feasibility Report from CBRE suggest a potential model for the delivery vehicle of SEFUND which is now being explored further by the Shadow Board and the Accountable Body, alongside other options for the investment fund.