A VERTICAL farming centre and improvements to a north Cumbrian road are tipped to receive over £10 million of funding as part of the Government’s post-coronavirus ‘New Deal’.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership has set out its priority projects to be financed by the Getting Building Fund - a £283m pot of money announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It is part of his ‘new deal’ announced in June, aimed at delivering jobs, skills and infrastructure for the North West.

The LEP has received £10.5m from the fund to support projects that can be delivered by March 2022.

The first project is a Vertical Farming Centre of Excellence at Lillyhall, in Allerdale, which will create one of the largest integrated vertical farming operations in the UK.

Vertical farming is a technique in which crops are grown in stacked layers.

It aims to improve crop growth and reduce land use.

It is expected to receive a £5.5m grant aimed at unlocking £48.8m of private sector investment and creating a 70,000 metre squared carbon neutral facility, which could create up to 360 jobs.

A further £5m will be invested to deliver road improvements on the A595 at Bothel.

The scheme will enable junction enhancements at Bothel/Torpenhow as well as preliminary works to enable a larger scheme that will deliver climbing lanes and "broader route alignment".

Jim Jackson, chair of the LEP’s investment panel, said: “The creation of a Vertical Farm at Lillyhall will be an important addition to Cumbria’s exceptional food offer alongside our existing meat and dairy offer.

"It will make an important contribution to food security and significantly reduce the water required in crop growing.

"The A595 is the key route between Carlisle and Southern Scotland and Copeland and Allerdale.

“Reliability and safety issues have affected the road around Bothel and the planned improvements will alleviate these issues.

"Importantly, it will also support West Cumbria’s potential to grow its clean energy offer and secure investment in this.”

The LEP will work with both of the projects to ensure they meet value for money and deliverability tests before the funding is confirmed.

Councillor Mike Johnson, deputy leader of Allerdale Borough Council and executive member: economic growth, community development and placemaking, said: “It is great to see such significant investment coming into Allerdale with these two key projects helping to provide hundreds of new jobs for the area and much-needed improvements in infrastructure.

“The Vertical Farm at Lillyhall will not only provide jobs for local people but it will also be an excellent addition to the already fantastic food production offer here in Allerdale and any improvements to the A595 are extremely welcome, as it will help further unlock the economic potential in west Cumbria and make this key route safer for the many people who use it every day.

“I’d like to thank the Cumbria LEP and the Government for enabling these projects to move forward and as a council we will continue to work with our partners to help improve lives and improve futures for our residents.”

Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, said: “I am delighted to see such large investment in my constituency and I welcome the assistance provided by Cumbria LEP and Central Government which has enabled such a large amount of private investment to be unlocked.

“The Vertical Farming Centre of Excellence will make a significant contribution to the Workington constituency.

"The prospect of 360 new jobs in a carbon neutral facility is fantastic for our area.

“Infrastructure within Cumbria is poor.

"I, along with my other parliamentary colleagues in Cumbria have been working hard lobbying Government for A595 improvements.

“I welcome the proposed improvements at Bothel and I will continue to push for more improvements to make journeys along the A595 shorter and safer.”

Councillor Keith Little, highways and transport portfolio holder at Cumbria County Council, said: “Improvements to the A595 within the vicinity of Bothel will not only improve journey times and help boost the county’s economy but also create a safer and more resilient road network.

“Last year the County Council submitted a business case to Government for delivery funding for a series of improvements including climbing lanes to the south west of the Bothel, improved alignment and junction improvements; a decision on this funding is awaited.

“The additional Getting Building funding is a real boost; helping to move things forward with the delivery of an improvement at the Greyhound/Torpenhow junction together with preliminary works for the larger scheme which of course will continue to develop in consultation with the local community.

"Alongside this, the council is developing a proposal to introduce a 50mph speed limit past Bothel with consultation on this to take place during the Autumn.”