Local government funding has been dramatically reduced after a decade of austerity. We can no longer rely on long term funding from the national government for the purpose of tackling our challenges around urban growth, infrastructure and development and its associated carbon footprint.
Transformation and innovation in a city development means different things to different people. However, stakeholders nation-wide are now agreeing that the failure of cities to truly deliver lasting transformation and develop long-term solutions to its urbanisation challenges lies not in the absence of innovation, but in the lack of adequate funding. Typically transformation and innovation projects often attract initial grant funding for development but then suffer from poor business models and a lack of commercial, sustainable profits to ensure long-term operation after the initial grant funding runs out. After initial successes, innovative initiatives often decline and fail. The answer to this problem lies in finding viable and robust financing models with ownership firmly embedded within the local business and resident community.
Cities need to view urban transformation, development, and innovation as a single self-supporting programme. It is not enough to design energy-positive, car-free urban developments from an architectural or technology perspective. How the schemes are financed and owned over the long-term are critically important to ensuring they continue to deliver against the ambition of the City.
A self-financing city is one that does not rely on grant or government funding for long term longevity. It is one that uses its assets to generate finance to invest in socially important schemes and encourages investment in the city from the residents and businesses themselves.
Imagining the Future of Exeter
Through our engagement activities with the diverse business and local communities of Exeter and by analysing best practices of other cities across the globe we have identified a set of features that Exeter will need to demonstrate in order to meet this Goal.
- Exeter has committed to the development of a city-owned development fund that gives the City access to the money needed to invest in new mobility solutions to improve the movement of people across the City.
- Investment in the city is promoted, with local people and businesses investing to support the vision for Exeter (eg through crowdfunding).
- A city partnership is created to strategically develop, co-ordinate, deliver and invest in infrastructure that supports Exeter on its pathway to carbon neutrality