Chancellor pledges to build '12 Canary Wharf' investment zones across UK

Downing Street says it wants to replicate the success of the Canary Wharf regeneration project across the UK. Credit: PA

By James Gray, ITV News Multimedia Producer

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that the government will deliver 12 new investment zones in the UK as part of its continued pledge to level up the poorest areas of society.

His announcement was made as he set out in his Spring Statement what he called the "four pillars of our industrial strategy", which are "enterprise, employment, education and everywhere".

Speaking in the House of Commons, he revealed that a successful application for each zone, which he dubbed as "12 potential Canary Wharfs", would need to be made.

But where exactly will the new zones be built and what will an application need to include to be deemed successful?

Where will the new investment zones be built?

The chancellor said the following areas had been identified in England as potential sites:

  • West Midlands Mayoral Combined Authority

  • Greater Manchester Mayoral Combined Authority

  • North East Mayoral Combined Authority

  • South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority

  • West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority

  • East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority

  • Tees Valley Mayoral Combined Authority

  • Liverpool City Region Mayoral Combined Authority

A further pledge was made to construct at least one site in each of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The chancellor hopes they will accelerate research and development in the UK's most promising industries.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know

What will a successful application need to include?

Mr Hunt said: "To be chosen, each area must identify a location where they can offer a bold and imaginative partnership between local government and a university or research institute in a way that catalyses new innovation clusters."

The government hopes each investment zone will drive growth in one of the UK's key sectors. These include technology, creative industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and the green sector.

Those who wish to access the government's offer "must credibly set out how local partners will use the levers available to propel growth in priority sectors, identify private sector match funding, and use the local planning system to support growth".

They will also need to demonstrate how the investment zone will "will support the UK reaching net zero by 2050 and the government's new long-term targets to protect and enhance the natural environment, and be resilient to the effects of climate change".

How much funding will each zone receive?

If a bid is successful, it will be entitled to £80 million of support from Downing Street, over a five-year period.

According to the government, the offer matches that in "Freeports, consisting of enhanced rates of Capital Allowance, Structures and Buildings Allowance, and relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax, Business Rates and Employer National Insurance Contributions".

Each investment zone will also have access to flexible grant funding to support skills and incentivise apprenticeships, provide specialist business support and improve local infrastructure.