Economic development is very often a function of private and public entities working together. In North West England, that is unfolding with notable success.
Can the construction of a leisure centre in Allerdale signal the presence of work? Ironically, it may well do just that.
After years of planning and debate, an £11.3 million sports hall, swimming pool and outdoor pitches complex in Workington is approved and under construction in 2015. Mostly funded by Allerdale Borough Council with £1.5 million chipped in by Sport England, the centre replaces a 40-year-old facility at Moorclose. In the four decades since the construction of that facility, now deemed inefficient and costly to run, much has changed in the borough – enough to draw land investment funds from the private sector that parallels public investments such as this.
What indicators do we have that this growth is real? The West Cumbria region is now widely recognised as “Britain’s Energy Coast,” due to nuclear, wind and solar installations working here on a utility scale. Further developments that have stimulated a repurposing of publicly- and privately-owned land assets into commercial and housing development are:
Port of Workington – With the infusion of £5.7 million investment dollars in the Energy Coast initiative in June 2014 and later another £21 million from central Government, this is becoming a significant hub for business in the North West of England. It will have a 1 weekly feeder container service to Rotterdam, opening up trade to the world for area businesses. The first phase of this project is expected to bring in 3,000 jobs.
Connecting Cumbria Project – Bringing superfast broadband to homes and businesses, this enables growing companies in the tech sector to locate in Allerdale and other communities nearby. These are some of the firms that provide rapid job growth for the region.
Advanced Manufacturing Centre at Carlisle College – An educated workforce is perhaps as attractive to industry as port and road infrastructure. This is why part of the £21 million from the Government is allocated to educating future engineers through the latest industry technology (including laser cutters, computer-aided manufacturing equipment and 3D printers). The college has already drawn investments of £31 million from other sources over the past decade, an endorsement of the institution’s role in the local economy.
Improvements at the Barrow Waterfront Enterprise Zone – In nearby South Cumbria, this 60-acre enterprise zone has received more than £26.8 million in government cash. It is expected to attract additional investment and activity from supply chain firms and manufacturing businesses. Already BAE Systems has signed as an anchor tenant, a move anticipated as a catalyst for attracting other firms.
Managers of land investment funds keep a keen eye on what councils and employers are doing to boost the economic prospects of an area. Until the last decade, the general Cumbria area had experienced a decline because it had an aging manufacturing base. But with new technologies, a skilled workforce and improving, 21st century infrastructure that much is turning around. Some land that is publicly owned and dormant is now converting to commercial and residential development in response. And as community investment in Allerdale’s leisure and sport facility indicate, the area is becoming populated with engaged, active citizens who work as hard as they play.
Britain’s Energy Coast is a far cry from its industrial past – bringing greater economic success with clean energy, tourism and residential development.
The borough of Allerdale, with the town of Workington serving as its principal seaport, is regarded by many as the business hub of West Cumbria. This is the part of England’s North West where an economic transformation is drawing young people to move there – to sop up jobs in the diversifying economy, which enjoys particularly strong tailwinds provided by the energy sector.
This is a recent phenomenon. Capital growth land opportunities weren’t quite so strong ten years ago, when the region (West Cumbria) was losing its position as a manufacturing and shipbuilding hub. Between just the years 2000 and 2005, 28 per cent of manufacturing and 13 per cent of public administration jobs were lost.
Rather rapidly, however, things began to rebuild. The extant nuclear industry created a foothold for the energy industry, and that has since evolved to include a remarkable amount of wind energy shipping (from the port of Workington) and installations in the coastal area. Dubbed “Britain’s Energy Coast,” West Cumbria has developed a global reputation and expertise in nuclear energy and clean renewable technologies. Wind farms dot the coast while a solar park proposed for Moor House Farm in Winscales, near Workington, will power an additional 1,200 households.
Advanced manufacturing capabilities remain and are projected to grow – drawing the much-needed capital that supports new enterprise and the infrastructure necessary to facilitate it. These include companies engaged in submarine construction, biopharmaceuticals and LED business clusters.
While all of these factors represent the future, certain gifts of the area’s past are keys to Allerdale’s and West Cumbria’s economic fortunes. The area includes Britain’s famed Lake District, bodies of water framed by fells (hills), several of which tower more than 3,000 feet above sea level. The deepest and longest lakes in England, Wastwater and Windermere are here. Tourism in the area has been a factor for hundreds of years, picking up in 1951 with the establishment of the Lake District National Park coincident to expanded availability of motorcars and the building of the M6 Motorway. Today, 12 million tourists visit the area annually.
This also happens to be the western end of Hadrian’s Wall, the onetime demarcation of the northernmost reach of the Roman Empire. Build in AD 122 to control movements of populations, attacking tribes and trade routes, it begins at Bowness-on-Solway in West Cumbria, and follows east to the English Channel at Tyne. Serving less contentious needs, that of visitors, hikers, bikers and gastronomists, the Wall is now part of the sizeable tourist industry today in this north-western reach of England. Complementing the Hadrian sites are the West Cumbria Cycle Network, a 72-mile bicycling roadway system that links Distington, Workington, Cockermouth, Harrington, Whitehaven, Cleator Moor and Ennerdale by way of the disused Cleator and Workington Junction Railway and minor roads.
Homes along these areas of natural beauty, bike railways and coastal areas are indeed attractive to homebuyers and land investors. But in particular, land fund managers find the gradual rise in businesses in the area a good reason to build new. Skilled workers drawn to the region will have the wherewithal and interest in new structures – including those environmentally minded people working in the renewable energy sector who seek power-efficient homes for themselves and their businesses.
What is it that makes West Cumbria an area for development in the next decade? It’s not one thing, it’s many things: Allerdale illustrates how.
The January 2015 announcement by UK Prime Minister David Cameron that £21 million from the central Government will fund key infrastructure projects in Cumbria is yet another indicator that the area is primed for growth. This isn’t a one-shot investment in a region that is ailing. Rather, it’s money that holds the potential to make already good times get better.
Cumbria’s Borough of Allerdale will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of money as this is where the Port of Workington is located. Approximately 200 jobs were created in a recent regeneration of the port; more importantly, this has led to a more robust local economy with such vital infrastructure in place. “The Port of Workington is recognised in our council plan as a key strategic site for supporting the local economy,” said Allerdale Council leader Alan Smith. Emphasizing how a working port in the West Cumbria coastal town stimulates regional commerce, Smith added that the new funding will be used to construct a bridge to handle HGV (heavy goods vehicle) traffic, and to increase the county’s broadband capabilities.
But several factors made this northernmost part of England an up-and-comer in the diversifying UK economy even before this announcement. Investing in UK land makes sense in much of the country, but in and around Allerdale it is particularly interesting. The Allerdale population is currently around 93,500, which includes the towns of Cockermouth and Maryport, as well as the Lake District National Park with its 15.8 million annual tourists – which brings more than £1 billion to the area every year. The larger West Cumbria economic sphere has a population of 166,000 people, of which 103,500 are of working age.
Why should a land investor, particularly one focused on residential and commercial development, look at this region so far removed from the hyper-growth South East and London? The RBS Regional Growth Tracker found that in the year leading up to September 2014 the west Cumbria economy grew by 4.2 per cent. Compare that to a 3.7 per cent growth in London and 2.9 per cent for the whole of the North West. The senior economist at RBS says that average earnings growth and a falling unemployment rate characterised west Cumbria’s economy.
Also designated as Britain’s Energy Coast, Cumbria boasts 6,400 enterprises in a diverse range of sectors. Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster is focused on both nuclear and renewables supply chains, endeavouring to attract and grow companies in these categories.
Further, business start-ups in the UK were found through the Enterprise Research Centre to be more successful outside of England’s major cities – contradicting the popular perception that all the capital investing goes to London. The Office of National Statistics data from 2012 show that 75 per cent of new private sector jobs are created outside the Capital City.
Where there are new jobs there also need to be new houses, infra and the commercial establishments where people can shop, learn and play. This is of course where capital growth planning – converting unused land to economically productive property – can achieve its best goals.
The employers already growing in Allerdale include Iggisund Paperboard (in Siddick, near Workington), Eastman (chemical and camera firm from the U.S.), Tata Steel (cast product plant), Stobart (haulage) and Amcor (packaging). Nearby West Cumbrian towns host Associated British Ports Holding, Innovia Films, Sealy Beds UK, Carr’s Milling Industries, WestPort Windows and M-Sport.
The northwesterly limit of the Roman Empire was here with Hadrian’s Wall. Once a violent outpost, the area today attracts tourists and commerce.
The Allerdale borough of today owes much of its resurgent economy to the Allerdale of the past. This is because the rich history and historical sites throughout Cumbria are a draw to the global tourists who want to see where the ancient Romans and, later, Mary Queen of Scots once had a presence in this north-west coastal area. What happened long ago was about territory – just as today, as it is land that draws alternative investments to accommodate a growing economy.
Students of history know the most northerly reach of the Roman Empire was Hadrian’s Wall, a feat of engineering accomplished by the work of 15,000 Roman soldiers. They built a history-making 80-mile barrier that stretched from the Solway Coast in Cumbria to Wallsend near Newcastle upon Tyne. They were attempting, with some success, to protect the southern lands from the tribes who lived in Scotland around the year AD 122. The Romans’ own investments in the land involved tons upon tons of rough-hewn rocks, which in some places stacked as high as 6 metres.
Hadrian’s Wall appears to have been a way to control invasions and commerce, with designated points for travel under military escort to markets. Keeping in the mind that the Romans essentially occupied the country to the south, it was a means of controlling those people as well (the precise placement of the wall and forts strongly suggests this). The legacy of what is left behind includes settlements and forts along the wall, nearest forts, which today are the subjects of archaeological digs and preservation.
After the Romans lost power and the battles were more local, specifically the 16th century in the dramatic life and demise of Mary Queen of Scots, the doomed royal was on the run when she took refuge at Workington Hall. Built around a pele tower in the 14th century, it was the hereditary seat of the Curwen family (lords of the manor until 1929). The structure took damage from the Luftwaffe in World War Two and is now classified a ruin.
While Hadrian’s Wall remains today in disconnected remnants, there is now a brisk tourist trade for active travellers interested in the area’s history as well as the stunning natural landscape. Forts, museums, milecastles and turrets provide places for those who hike and bicycle along the trail.
Stretching into the 19th and 20th centuries, the Allerdale District was economically defined chiefly for its local agriculture as well as its tradesmen, manufacturing and handicrafts. For example, Maryport, a civil parish within Allerdale borough, largely developed around the mining and sea trade, but declined in the mid-20th century to give rise to tourism based on the Roman artefacts, including a series of altars to Jupiter Optimus Maximus.
Workington, also a civil parish in Allerdale, is highlighted in the 16th century Britannia (author William Camden) for the remnants of Roman coastal defences found there. Additionally, evidence of Viking settlements at the mouth of the River Derwent suggests another chapter of history that has yet to be fully understood. The Cumbrian iron ore south of Workington made the area important up through both Wars of the 20th century, which also made it a region of large vehicle manufacturing. But investment has been more robust in transport, arts and entertainment, and cultural and sports festivals in recent years – attractive to tourists, as well as a draw to those interested in capital growth land opportunities.
Capital growth indeed characterises the 21st century Allerdale economy, which according to the RBS Regional Growth Tracker was up 4.2 per cent in the year October 2013-September 2014. Growth industries here include the energy sector (nuclear and renewables), haulage, chemicals, paper and packaging. The Port of Workington is being expanded with help from the central Government, which spawns further investment in commercial and residential building.
Welcome. This website has been developed by the Allerdale Investment Partnership (AIP), the joint venture formed by Allerdale Borough Council and the founders and owners of fund administrator IAG.
This website will give you an introduction to our partnership, the way we operate and the projects with which we are involved.
AIP aims to help support the sustained growth and development of local communities across Allerdale by creating new jobs, retail, housing and leisure facilities, and by generating funds that can be reinvested back into the community.
AIP will be involved in a number of projects in Allerdale over the coming years, and we would encourage you to continue to visit this site in order to keep up to date with the latest developments.