AN ambitious strategy has been agreed that will unlock the global growth potential of the North West and create an economic zone of international significance.
The Atlantic Gateway is a vision for a sustainable economic zone linking Merseyside and Greater Manchester through Warrington, Halton, Chester and North Cheshire which will establish an area of economic growth second only to London in the UK.
The deal was clinched at an event hosted by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) at Daresbury Science and Innovation Centre, near Warrington and attended by representatives of all the participating councils.
They agreed to work together with partners, including the NWDA, to turn the strategy into a reality.
The primary objective is to enhance the city region growth, support city region strategies and to make it easier for businesses to grow and invest in the region.
The Gateway as a whole could deliver 250,000 new jobs and 400,000 new homes by 2030.
NWDA chief executive Steven Broomhead (pictured) said: "Atlantic Gateway is a bold and innovative collaboration across and between city regions to create a growth area which will rank among Europe's strongest urban economies.
"Through the framework agreed the Atlantic Gateway partners can make it simpler and more enticing for businesses to invest in the area as a whole, by enhancing the offer of the cities in partnership with other key places.
"We all know the public purse is going to be constrained - it will be private investment which will characterise the next decade. Businesses need the right conditions for growth - this means an environment which is not constrained by infrastructure, connectivity and municipal competition. Our desire is simply to improve the environment for all businesses to invest in order to create stronger city regions and Northwest as a whole."
To achieve a high scale of growth, the area will need to overcome significant challenges and four areas have been identified where partners can work better in collaboration.
These are:
1. Innovation in key sectors. Existing sectors such as logistics will benefit from an Atlantic Gateway approach, and new areas such as energy generation will become increasingly important.
2. A global gateway. Firms need the right infrastructure to move freight in a sustainable way and they need the right technology.
3. Environmental infrastructure. Sustainable ways need to be found to deal with both waste and energy.
4. Attracting and retaining talent. Growth depends on having the right people with the right skills to drive industry.  High-quality jobs, exciting places to work and excellent connectivity are essential.
Liverpool, Manchester and the Cheshire and Warrington sub region already have well developed and robust plans vital for the area - and the recent approval by Warrington planners of the Port Warrington scheme on the Manchester Ship Canal is one of them.
Coun Ian Marks, leader of Warrington Borough Council said: "The Atlantic Gateway is an enormously exciting project.  It will deliver substantial economic benefits locally and along the length of the canal corridor whilst putting the North West firmly on the international business map.  This project really is an example of joined up working at its best and has the backing and complete support of Warrington Borough Council.”
The full strategy document can be seen at: www.nwda.co.uk