Scots plan to cut URC funding

Three arms-length public-private urban regeneration companies (URCs) are likely to lose their budgets for project and development work from the Scottish government at the end of the next financial year, it has emerged.

Saltcoats: Irvine Bay is one of three URC's set to lose funding for projects. Mike138 photo
Saltcoats: Irvine Bay is one of three URC's set to lose funding for projects. Mike138 photo

Figures contained in a Scottish government draft budget show that the dedicated URC funding programme, which provides money for projects as well as basic running costs, is coming to an end. It said that the Riverside Inverclyde, Irvine Bay and Clydebank Rebuilt URCs will no longer receive money from the fund from April 2013.

However, Clyde Gateway, the URC charged with the regeneration of the area surrounding Glasgow's 2014 Commonwealth Games site, will receive money from the fund until April 2014.

Scotland's first URCs - PARC Craigmillar and Raploch URC - no longer receive any direct funding from the Scottish government.

In February, the Scottish government's regeneration and Commonwealth Games division published a discussion document on the future of regeneration policy that seemed to cast doubt over the future of URCs (Planning, 25 February, p14).

It said: "We need to consider whether the current approach to supporting URCs is sustainable in the longer term given the continued pressure on budgets."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said that it would soon be launching a Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) fund, which provides European Regional Development Fund financing for urban renewal and development projects. She said that some of the URCs could be eligible to bid for loans from the fund.

The spokeswoman added that a new regeneration strategy would be published in the near future, and that the government will be exploring the possibility of other funding streams, for which URCs may be eligible.

However, prospects for continued central funding of the URCs' running costs were boosted when Irvine Bay reported that Scottish Government cabinet secretary for infrastructure Alex Neil had said that he would "secure core funding" to cover the URC's administration costs over the next four to five years.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government confirmed that it would make a contribution to core administration costs to ensure the continuation of the URC, but that the details had yet to be finalised.

The draft budget can be viewed via PlanningResource.co.uk/go/referencesection

How the URC Fund will wind down

Funds available in the Scottish Government's dedicated Urban Regeneration Company fund 2011-15

Source: The Scottish government

2011/12 - £31m

2012/13 - £25m

2013/14 - £20m

2014/15 - £0.


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