Regional cities unite to push growth manifesto

A business plan is being drawn up to lobby the government to support growth across major centres in the East of England, Planning has learned.

Regional Cities East (RCE), which comprises Peterborough, Luton, Ipswich, Norwich and Colchester, is working on plans to get the ODPM to recognise the role of medium-sized towns and cities in delivering growth.

A study by Roger Tym & Partners, commissioned by RCE and seen by Planning, argues that medium-sized cities are as significant for the government's growth agenda as core cities.

The report, which has been submitted in draft to the East of England Plan public examination, claims that the five RCE towns are expected to deliver more than double the number of jobs and homes than the region's two growth areas put together. But it argues that there needs to be a step change in performance to achieve growth, including overcoming infrastructure and skills constraints.

Additional growth will also need extra funding, the report notes. But Colchester Borough Council executive director Mike Crouch stressed: "This is not a begging bowl. The prime thing is recognition that medium-sized cities have a part to play in the national growth agenda."

RCE partners are working on a business plan to put to the ODPM early next year. This will include plans for a city summit to be held in the region in the spring. They are also looking at the potential of joining with other regional centres including Cambridge and Southend-on-Sea.

The partners met communities minister David Miliband last month to discuss the plans. An ODPM spokeswoman said: "The government will support towns that want to grow and have a commitment to ensure funding for infrastructure."

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