West Sussex has outlined plans to invest more than £676 million in the county’s schools, roads, broadband, health and care services.
More than £77 million has been earmarked to fund an extra 300 secondary school places and 1,500 primary places as part of the five year Capital Programme. A further £71 million will fund vital road improvements across the county as well as improvements to the National Cycle Network and Rights of Way.
Improved care services for adults with learning difficulties and children in care will also benefit, along with projects to help adults break free from the grip of alcohol and drug addiction and get back to work.
The Capital Programme, which will run from April 2016 to April 2021, lays the foundations for ensuring a thriving and competitive economy for this and the next generation of West Sussex residents.
Over the last two years District and Borough councils have been drawing up Local Plans which detail where new housing development is planned in the county. A total of 57,000 homes will be built in West Sussex between now and 2029.
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council said: “This is an unprecedented level of house building in the county and represents a major challenge. We need to prioritise and plan to ensure there is the infrastructure and school places necessary for these new families, together with a strong economy and good jobs for today’s and future generations.
“In a difficult financial landscape, where money is very scarce, making such a financial commitment is not easy but if we do not invest in our creaking infrastructure now we will not be doing the best by our residents.”
The Capital Programme will ensure school places, care services, road and infrastructure improvements are targeted where they are needed to support a growing West Sussex economy and provide the best services for all residents.
Louise Goldsmith, West Sussex County Council leader, said the investment was in line with previous years but was being targeted to areas of greatest priority,
as detailed in the Future West Sussex plan.
“This is a real opportunity to ensure West Sussex gets the schools, road improvements and infrastructure it needs if it is to remain a vibrant and competitive county,” she explained.
“At the same time it ensures money is set aside to protect elderly or vulnerable residents in our community and improve the quality of services for all. This is a multi-million pound programme which targets funds to areas where it will do the greatest good for current and future generations.
“We have had to make some difficult choices, we cannot fund everything, but we cannot hide from the challenges West Sussex faces. We face an unsustainable future unless we take action now to attract new workers to the county and retain our own talent within West Sussex.
“For West Sussex to continue to be a great place to live and work means attracting high quality jobs, building more affordable homes and providing the best quality services. It is our responsibility to ensure West Sussex businesses have the right infrastructure in place to thrive, families have access to high quality services and the vulnerable have the support they need.”
If approved, the investment means the equivalent of 50 new classes will be created in areas where the numbers of young families are expected to grow significantly, such as Horsham, Burgess Hill and Worthing.
Major road improvements earmarked for investment include £8.6m for the Lyminster Bypass which will cut congestion on the A284, improve access to Bognor Regis and Worthing and provide the extra road capacity to support new homes and up to 700 jobs in the area.
A further £14.9m has been set aside for improvements to the A259 coastal road at East Arun, and £10m has been earmarked to lever in up to £200m worth of Government investment for the A27.
There will also be an additional £1.8m set aside for integrated transport schemes to address local transport issues. This will bring the total annual budget for new walking and cycling schemes, road safety schemes and public transport infrastructure improvements to £3.7m.
Almost £2.5 million will be set aside over the next two years to extend the roll out of superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses.
Investment will continue in cutting edge technology and new fire engines for West Sussex Fire Service.
More than £12m will be used to expand the Beechfield Secure Unit for vulnerable children in care and £34.5m worth of investment will be used to provide more adult social care beds and further improve the quality of care across the county.
This includes £4.5m for the Social Work Academy to train the next generation of care workers.
At the October 30 Full Council meeting members will be asked to approve the five year programme. The £676m Capital Programme will run until 2020/21 and includes £402m of Government grants and up to an additional £75m of borrowing.
Louise Goldsmith said: “With interest rates at a historic low, now is the time to invest the right amount of resources in securing a strong future for West Sussex. Future generations will not thank us if we fail to seize this opportunity to lay the foundations for a successful economy and a vibrant West Sussex community.”