Stoke Staffs LEP

Getting Building Fund

In June 2020, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) was invited by UK Government to put forward ideas for projects that might benefit from a policy intervention. The UK Government response to the ‘call for ideas’ was to create the Getting Building Fund that was designed to support or accelerate established schemes that might be affected by the economic impact of COVID-19. In addition, a tranche of new projects was supported where the case for intervention was clearly established and business cases sufficiently advanced to enable delivery of the projects within an 18 month timescale.

Specifically, Government was looking for shovel-ready capital projects which could be delivered within 18 months.

Nationally, the size of the Getting Building Fund pot totals £900 million.

The overarching objectives of the fund are to drive economic growth, create new jobs and support green recovery. This includes funding to enable:

  •  town and city centre modernisation through targeted infrastructure investments unleashing their longer-term economic potential;
  • investment in physical connectivity to improve the functioning of the local economy;
  • investment in innovation ecosystem including through improvements to research and development facilities driving up business productivity;
  • improvements to human capital; and
  • improving digital connectivity, in order to support economic performance, particularly in more isolated areas.

SSLEP was provisionally allocated £23.7 million Getting Building Fund subject to business case appraisal, to be spent by 31st March 2022.

Which projects are supported by the Getting Building Fund?

The Getting Building Fund focuses on projects that can progress quickly but will also stimulate and boost economies in some of the areas most economically impacted by COVID-19. Our supported projects have good strategic fit with our Local Industrial Strategy core themes of Place, Innovation, Growing Business and Future Workforce.

Projects will support the delivery of new enterprise and innovation space, investment in digital skills for young people and improvements to transport infrastructure which will unlock new housing sites and enable increased, active travel, helping to facilitate a green recovery.

How were the projects selected?

As part of the initial ‘Call for Ideas’ stage, the LEP Secretariat collated a long-list of approximately 60 reference projects from across the LEP geographical area and submitted these along with initial spend profiles and headline information as requested by UK Government. Following the subsequent establishment of the Getting Building Fund and associated criteria, the LEP Secretariat commissioned its technical advisors (Hatch Regeneris) to prioritise the reference projects aligned to the indicative spend profile of the provisional funding envelope of £23.7m.

Hatch Regeneris provided technical assessments based on a range of criteria (e.g. was planning permission in place, could the project be delivered within the timescales required to access the funding, etc) and made recommendations to the LEP Secretariat and the LEP’s Strategic Programme Management Board. A contingency list was also produced to draw on should any of the shortlisted projects not progress as envisaged (4 of these contingency schemes have now been approved by MHCLG and added to the programme, pending contracting). UK Government provisionally agreed the LEP’s shortlist of projects on 4 August 2020 subject to more detailed individual business case submissions and subsequent appraisal and approval by the LEP in the Autumn/Winter (see links below for the individual project approval meeting dates via the Strategic Programme Management Group SPMG).

How did we approve the business cases and award funding?

Whilst 11 projects were initially identified for Getting Building Fund, each project was then required to develop a detailed business case, to be scrutinised by the SSLEP’s Independent Technical Evaluator. Funding approval was then sought from SPMG. Funding has subsequently been allocated to 13 SSLEP schemes.

Keeping up to date

We will regularly update the information below for each of the GBF projects, keep an eye on our news feed and Twitter accounts as well.  Many of the projects are complete or well underway.

Funded Projects

Innovation Centre Seven (IC7) (£6,100,000)

Innovation Centre Seven (IC7) comprising 4,820sqm of BREEAM excellent innovation space at the Keele Growth Corridor University Enterprise Zone.

Latest update (September 2022):  Innovation Centre Seven (IC7) construction has been hampered by weather, the pandemic, the presence of a third badger sett, supply chain issues (steel, information technology and audio-visual equipment).

As a result, the building is currently forecasted to reach practical completion by December 2022, followed by a period of installation of IT/AV in addition to fit out works for incoming tenants, with an expectancy that the building will be fully operational and tenanted by June 2023. F&F slippage into Q1 22/23 of £1,871,502 was claimed in full.

Whilst the project initially had three defined business support offerings, the level of take up from Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire SME’s to date has been significantly less than expected reflecting a national picture being observed by DfLUHC as businesses focus on survival post Covid and deal with the cost of living crisis. Meaning, amendments to the modus operandi for the three business support programmes are currently being reviewed.


Creative Lab (formerly known as New Enterprise Collaboratory) (£500,000)

The Creative Lab will accelerate and strengthen the creation, survival and growth of business start-ups through access to specialist equipment, co-working environment and wider enabling facilities and support within Staffordshire University’s Innovation Enterprise Zone.

Latest update (September 2022): Users, including the students, have used the space to generate new ideas and present the new products to national, regional, and national employers. The facility is regularly used for stimulating innovation and creativity through brokering the knowledge exchange relationships among academics, students, and creatives.

The Creative Lab is an ideal facility for developing ‘Creative Challenges’ which are ran regularly. For example, students designed an autonomous arcade machine in a 1-day challenge. Drop-in ‘Innovation Surgeries’ have also been hosted where companies have brought in prototypes and then discussed how they could advance their products with the university’s experts.


‘Powering Up’ Enterprise (£2,450,000)

Stoke-on-Trent City Council will lead on re-purposing and refurbishing underused and vacant floor space, to create Enterprise Centres which will provide appropriate, modern, and digitally enhanced workspace.

Latest update (September 2022): Rising costs forced a reduction in the number of sites in the programme, consequently, 5 sites will be progressed opposed to the original 6.

• Contracts have been awarded for Swann House, Spode No 5 and Longton Town Hall.
• Spode: Building 5 commenced on site March 22 due to complete November 22
• Swann House commenced on site April 22 and completed in August 2022
• Longton Town Hall commenced May 22 and due to complete Oct 22.
• F&F slippage into Q1 22/23 of £196,822 was claimed in full.


I54 Western Extension (£3,000,000)

Local leaders visit the i54 Western Extension

Access road and plot servicing works to create a 60-acre extension to the i54 South Staffordshire site.

A Joint Venture partnership of Staffordshire County Council, South Staffordshire Council and the City of Wolverhampton Council are bringing forward the Western Extension of the regionally significant i54 South Staffordshire employment site.  Funding will combine an allocation from Local Growth Deal funding with the balance of investment being secured from the retained business rates from the existing i54 South Staffordshire Enterprise Zone site calculated on a net present value basis.

Project update (February 2023):

  • The access road and earthworks programmes for the site are now fundamentally complete with the site being actively marketed for end users. 
  • A major manufacturing occupier is expected to be undertaking build out on plot 2 from March 2023 and are expected to be operational during early/mid 2024. Identification of the occupier currently remains confidential whilst they manage their internal communications. 
  • Plot 1 is again being actively marketed for end users after the original interest in the plot has regrettably fallen away.  
  • The occupiers bring inward investment and will generate great job opportunities for local people building upon the already successful i54 employment park. 
  • Through the design and planning process the Partners have strived to create a fabulous place to work which has been endorsed by the very early interest shown by the two occupiers. As well as provision of footways and cycleways a much-improved bridleway there are vast areas of landscaping with over 10,000 native tree species that have been planted. 
  • Despite the challenges of the pandemic, global economic factors on fuel and material availability as well as the ever-present risk of adverse weather impeding productivity the contracts have been delivered on time and below budget which is a testament to everyone’s hard work and efforts. 

Health Innovation Centre (£2,889,500)

Health students during a simulation in a Clinical Skills Lab at the Centre for Health Innovation. Photograph courtesy of Staffordshire University

The Centre for Health Innovation (CHI) has been designed in collaboration with industry experts to meet modern demands and challenges in the sector and will use the latest medical techniques and methods to train the next generation of skilled nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

Latest update (September 2022): CHI obtained practical completion on 11th February 2022. Prior to this all M & E & AV commissioning were successfully signed off by the University’s Estates Team.

The University is now in receipt of the final building certifications from Building control and minor defects have been highlighted for rectification.

The official opening was held on 25th March 2022.

  • The School of Health have fully occupied the building and using all the Immersion, CAE and AV equipment to its full potential.
  • Minor defect rectification is on-going but not preventing any operational activity.
  • During the first 6 months being operational the focus has been on establishing meaningful simulation training for staff and creating a framework for further development of CHI.
  • The facility is enabling design work to occur and to deliver simulated placements, providing enhanced training for existing and new students.



Skills Equipment Fund – Digital Skills Centres (£550,375)

South Staffordshire College has transformed digital training and education, with the delivery of a range of internationally recognised digital programmes.

Latest update (September 2022): The project was trading in very difficult circumstances during the pandemic, so to have achieved the outputs they did, was quite a feat on the backdrop of a significant drop in apprenticeship starts nationally during this period. Targets will continue to be monitored for a period of 5 years after the project start date. Total grant claimed £550,261 against profile of £550,375. An underspend of £113 grant will not be claimed. £493,314 in kind match recorded against a profile of £663,400. No further match will be claimed. Project status-closed.

The College recruited a Digital Skills Centre Manager in July 2021, to drive curriculum and commercial developments with third parties. The Centres were officially launched w/c 20th September 2021, (20.9.21, Cannock, 24.9.21 Tamworth). Several employers were invited to the launch event and there has been some positive activity off the back of the publicity from the event. The number of Electronic Engineering apprentices who are using the software in the Digital Skills Centre at Tamworth to create their prototyping and achieve their IT outcomes as part of their qualification has grown.


Skills Equipment Fund – Creative and Digital Industries (£249,523)

The Creative and Digital Industries (CDI) project incorporates the completion of the remodelling and refurbishment of the New Library Building at Stoke-on-Trent College. This will create a collaborative learning space for the development of digital skills.

Latest update (September 2022): The project was trading in very difficult circumstances during the pandemic so in a sense getting close to the target was quite a feat on the backdrop of a significant drop in apprenticeship starts nationally during this period. Targets will continue to be monitored for a period of 5 years after the project start date. Total grant claimed £249,523 against profile £250,000. An underspend of £477 grant will not be claimed. £98,717 match against a target of £99,658. Project status-closed.

STEM Events were held at the college on the 11th-15th July 2022 – GE Electrical event 113 students on campus taking part in a number of interactive activities, talks around careers and career pathways; 15th July – Staffordshire STEM event 130 Yr. 9 students taking part in a number of interactive activities around Engineering and Science, as well as career talks; 18th – 22nd July – GE Electrical event with 100 students in attendance.


Skills Equipment Fund – Digital and Construction Skills Projects (£119,757)

The development of a hub for the creative digital and digital construction market, through the remodelling of the New Library Building. Thus, resulting in the creation of a new collaborative learning space, ensuring that local people and employers have the best chance to develop the very latest skills and techniques in construction technologies that employers in the local area require.

Latest update (September 2022): The project was trading in very difficult circumstances during the pandemic so in a sense getting close to the target was quite a feat on the backdrop of a significant drop in apprenticeship starts nationally during this period. Targets will continue to be monitored for a period of 5 years after the project start date. Total grant claimed £119,757 against a profile of £120,000.

An underspend of £243 grant will not be claimed. £44,058 match recorded against a profile of £44,984. Project status-closed.

Stoke College will not be holding a formal launch of its CIDT project. The college is in discussions with a key partner to form a potential partnership to exchange information re: skills requirements and CPD opportunities to upskill engineers in renewable technologies and to secure work experience opportunities for students; specifically upskilling engineers to enable them to inspect roofing structures for solar engineers using drones, laser levels and laser spirit levels for fast calculation of angles and roof pitch. Furthermore, another partnership is being forged with the college to consider providing work experience for construction students leading into apprenticeships and supporting delivery on curriculum with site visits and guest speakers.


Shire Hall Regeneration Project (£1,618,574)

The County Council will re-purpose the hall and give it a new use which will see a knock-on effect of helping to re-generate the town centre. The building will be sympathetically re-modelled to become a business start-up hub in the former library area, high quality events space in the Assembly Hall, a food and drink offer in the vaults, with museum and exhibition space in the court rooms.

Latest update (September 2022): The contract to repurpose Shire Hall as a digital Enterprise Hub is complete.

All refurbishment and fit out works to provide 21 lettable office units and a variety of other flexible workspace options was finished on 13/06/22, however BT Openreach were delayed in delivering the broadband circuit therefore occupation began from 03.10.2022. 12,000 sq metres of commercial workspace brought back into economic use as contracted, with 1,561 sq. metres repurposed, refurbished workspace created.

Ongoing snagging works to be carried out up to 12 months after practical completion as part of contract retention arrangements. Development of a Marketing Plan to generate interest from potential business occupiers. F&F slippage into Q1 22/23 of £599,234 claimed in full.

Shire Hall Enterprise Hub will be available to pre confirmed and new tenants/users creating a high-quality environment and destination postcode for businesses to establish and grow.


Staffordshire Local Sustainable Transport Project (£651,000)

A package of six sustainable transport schemes in Tamworth, Biddulph, Burton-upon-Trent, Uttoxeter, Eccleshall and Burntwood delivering walking and cycling provision to facilitate a green recovery.

Latest update (September 2022): The 6 project schemes: Uttoxeter, Eccleshall, Tamworth, Biddulph and Burntwood and A444 Burton-Swadlincote cycle routes, have all now completed. The final total for KMs built for the project was 3.3km – 0.3km less than the original forecasted target. F&F slippage into Q1 22/23 of £4,994 claimed in full.

The final local match contribution was £720,697, significantly, higher than the original forecasted match funding figure of £358,000. Of note the project re-adjusted their match contributions from those reported in Q4 21/22. The final contributions are now broken down as follows: private £123,499 (a reduction on the £166,576 previously reported Q3 21/22 figure). LA £95,963 and £501,235 Other public overall total £720,697.


Contingency schemes now being progressed:


Skills Equipment Fund – JCB Automation and Robotics Suite (£171,884)

The suite will enable the expansion of curriculum in both the mechanical and electronic sector from level 1 to level 3. The facility will provide a bureau of specialist knowledge and equipment and will allow smaller employers access to emerging technologies and advice.

Latest update (September 2022): The project was trading in very difficult circumstances during the pandemic so in a sense getting close to the target was quite a feat on the backdrop of a significant drop in apprenticeship starts nationally during this period.

Targets will continue to be monitored for a period of 5 years after the project start date. Total grant claimed £171,885 against profile £172,710. An underspend of £825 will not be claimed. £99,031 match recorded against a profile of £100,000. Project status-closed.

The academy also engages with the Women in to Engineering (WIE) project to encourage girls to consider a career in STEM. This year the academy has engaged 15 schools and 240 Year 6 female learners in engineering challenges. Apprentice and graduate learners that access the project are called in to inspire the children with talks and lectures. The WIE project is sponsored by Toyota, RR, and Bentley amongst others.


Church Street Gaming Hub (£190,000)

With a strong focus on the more innovative area of game streaming platforms, the hub will provide educational and training support for video game development and programming across the community, offering digital skill opportunities for those upskilling, for school leavers and NEETS, as well as opportunities for graduate internships and provision of an ideal environment as an incubator for business start-ups.

Latest update (September 2022): The contractor was appointed in August 2022, and construction works commenced in September 2022. The forecasted practical completion date is now March 2023. Since the building works completion date moved from December 2022 to March 2023, 5 out of the 6 categories of outputs planned to be achieved is now forecasted to be achieved is Q1 2023/24. F&F slippage into Q1 22/23 of £133,311 claimed in full.


Cleveland Future Skills Hub (£159.5k)

Provision of refurbished facilities enabling more flexible education areas – providing greater capacity and improved resilience for the delivery of training courses. (e.g. in Covid-secure teaching arrangements).  Phase 1 will deliver digital elements including digital and creative skills (e.g. Cyber Security, Digital Support, Software development, IS Solutions).

Forecast outputs: 1,184 m2 commercial floorspace; 20 x apprenticeships; 25 traineeship starts; 10 work experience placements

Latest update (May 2022):  Costs have increased and this scheme asked if the LEP would consider allocating additional GBF to the scheme. Two schemes which had directly approached the LEP for additional funding were invited to bid for a small amount of unallocated GBF funding. SPMG approved allocation of an additional £34,000 to this scheme.  Additional match funding has also been added.  The renovations works and decorating are now complete.  A launch event has been scheduled.