Business and Council leaders across Bournemouth, Poole and South East Dorset are delighted after Government announced that the area is to be one of twelve city regions set to receive a share of £1.28bn as part of the Department for Transport’s £2.5bn Transforming Cities Fund.
The scale of investment will enable a step change in tackling congestion locally. The provision of high speed bus corridors and major new cycling routes coupled with the delivery of smart solutions, latest digital technologies and much better transport information will transform the city region’s transport system. In turn this will lead to improved productivity and greater prosperity in the area.
The partnership bid is made up of Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset councils with the support of key industry and academic partners. It covers the South East Dorset conurbation including the central core area of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and the adjacent travel to work area of Wimborne, Ferndown, Wareham, Upton, Corfe Mullen, West Moors and Verwood.
The vision is to create a modern, accessible transport system with a target of reducing car trips by five per cent by 2022. Focus will be on providing high-speed, direct and improved bus connectivity between the centres and outlying areas; direct, safe and continuous cycle routes and enabling easier movement between transport modes. This will enable the region to deliver 20,000 new jobs and around 30,000 new homes by 2026.
Bournemouth Council Leader Cllr John Beesley said: “I am extremely pleased that South East Dorset has been shortlisted by the Department for Transport to share in the £1.28bn Transforming Cities Fund. This significant funding will enable us to make a fundamental change to our local transport system in the years ahead, helping to tackle the long-standing congestion issues. Our work over the past two years with major partners from industry and the local universities, together with really solid support from all our MPs enables us to be at the forefront of implementing the latest technology, ensuring that our transport network will operate effectively. The modern transport system we hope to develop will reflect the ambitions of the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, ensuring that we can create and accommodate new jobs and bring forward housing in a sustainable manner.”
Councillor Janet Walton, Leader for Borough of Poole, said: “We whole-heartedly welcome this announcement. This scale of funding will enable us to deliver a modern transport system that tackles our local traffic issues by creating a more sustainable transport network befitting of the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council. Major improvements to our bus, cycling and walking routes, coupled with much better transport information will provide local people with a genuine choice for their journeys, helping to reduce demand from car-borne traffic and the associated congestion that this generates.”
Councillor Daryl Turner, portfolio holder for the Natural and Built Environment, Dorset County Council, said: “Dorset is very pleased to learn of the news that the South East Dorset city region will benefit from this funding. The provision of high speed bus routes and continuous cycle routes from the conurbation out to Ferndown and Wimborne will enable local residents, who previously had little alternatives to the car, to be able to travel more sustainably in the future. These initiatives coupled with better digital connectivity will also mean that new housing around the area can be planned more effectively.”
The funding available will be used to deliver:
- Sustainable/Digital Transport Corridors; providing attractive, high-speed, direct bus connectivity with greater priority to outlying areas, and fibre optic cabling to enable Intelligent Transport Systems and Smart City technology;
- Cycle Highway Corridors; providing direct, safe and continuous cycle routes;
- Transport Hub Improvements; enabling easier transfer between transport modes;
- Technology; real-time traffic management co-ordination including a comprehensive travel app and electric bus infrastructure.
Ian Girling, Dorset Chamber of Commerce said: “This is tremendously exciting news that will benefit business and the regional economy. It will put us in an advantageous position to compete for investment, new markets and offer industries looking to relocate here exceptional infrastructure and opportunities.”
Lorna Carver, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership said: “This is fantastic news for Dorset’s economy. At our annual conference earlier this year, businesses told us that congestion was the number one barrier to increasing productivity. Over £93.7 million of Local Growth Funding is already supporting major transport infrastructure improvements across Dorset and this additional investment will go a long way to achieving our economic ambition of creating a sustainable 21st century city by the sea and a modern county economy. Dorset LEP looks forward to working with the new council in one of the UK’s largest new city regions.”
The other city regions selected include Derby & Nottingham, Leicester, the North East, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent and West Yorkshire + one other.
The SE Dorset area will receive an initial £50,000 from government to work up plans and businesses cases for presentation to an investment panel which will decide on the final allocation of transforming cities funding across the 12 selected city regions.
Business cases are likely to go before the investment panel in the summer of 2019 with implementation of schemes and initiatives to be completed by 2022/3.