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.
A Net Zero Exeter will have the finance and capability to develop in a way that delivers a ‘just transition’ to carbon neutrality – providing affordable homes, eradicating fuel poverty and reducing relative congestion.
- A city partnership shall be created to strategically develop, co-ordinate, deliver and invest in infrastructure that supports Exeter to achieve a ‘just transition’ to carbon neutrality.
- Exeter shall have committed to the development of a city-owned development fund that gives the city access to the money needed to invest in infrastructure required for a ‘just transition’ to carbon neutrality.
- Investment in the city shall be promoted, with local people and businesses investing to support the vision for Exeter (eg through crowdfunding, a regional bank, or other locally focused financial institutions).
- Exeter shall have established mechanisms for organisations to jointly purchase energy direct from solar, wind or other developments (e.g via ‘sleeving’ agreements) with the contracts used to help finance the development of new renewables.
- City purchasing decisions shall support a ‘transition with organisations using procurement contracts to stimulate innovation and encourage their supply chain to become carbon neutral.
- The city shall actively support and promote companies that grow as a result of our clean transition.
- The city shall have a structured scheme of pricing and taxation, for road use and parking that reflects the true cost of carbon emissions, pollution and congestion; encouraging modal shift to active and shared modes and enabling re-investment in city mobility.