County secures £2.5m funding to drive economic growth

BexhillTWO major projects which will help boost the county’s economy have been given a cash injection of nearly £2.5 million.

East Sussex County Council has been awarded Local Growth Fund money by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) for the initiatives in the Bexhill and Seaford areas.

A total of £960,000 will help develop six industrial units to attract creative industries to Bexhill, while the remaining £1.5 million will go towards the cost of a bridge replacement project at Exceat.

Cllr Rupert Simmons, the county council’s lead member for economy, said: “I’m delighted that SELEP has recognised the value of these projects, which will help to further stimulate the economy in East Sussex.

“Both schemes support the county council’s key priority of supporting economic growth; one by encouraging creative industries to the county and the other by improving connectivity by addressing a major bottleneck in our road system.

“While there are still some challenges ahead with the Exceat bridge scheme – such as the need for a sensitive design which will win the approval of the South Downs National Park Authority – this is an extremely positive step forward.”

Construction of a new bridge at Exceat is expected to begin in May 2020 and support additional jobs in Newhaven, Seaford and Eastbourne, as well as tourism and additional housing in coastal towns.

The Bexhill Creative Workspace will consist of six light industrial units and is expected to create 36 additional jobs once complete in 2020. Rother District Council will be supporting the development with £800,000 of match funding.

Rother District Council leader, Cllr Doug Oliver, said: “This investment is just the start of a long term ambition to grow the creative economy of Bexhill. The project will provide much needed affordable workspace for creatives at all stages of their careers, but with a particular focus on enabling local young people coming in to the industry to grow and develop without having to move.”

The SELEP funding comes just four months after the county council was awarded Local Growth Fund money totalling £5.4 million to support a new centre of excellence at Plumpton College for trades such as agriculture and food processing, an enterprise park in Bexhill and new business units in Hastings.