Ambitious plans for future economic development in Sussex can today be revealed by The Argus.

Councils and business groups across the county are currently discussing what could replace the South East England Development Agency (Seeda) when it is scrapped in two years’ time.

Under Government plans, the quango will be replaced by smaller Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

Local authorities have until next month to submit bids either singularly or together with other councils.

East Sussex County Council has already told the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) that it wants to go it alone in an attempt to attract £1 billion of private investment.

Meanwhile The Argus understands Brighton and Hove and West Sussex councils aim to join with counterparts in Surrey to forma LEP that will stretch all the way from the South Coast to Croydon.

It would be based around a larger version of the existing Gatwick Diamond region, which currently stretches from the north of Brighton to Redhill and out to Horsham and East Grinstead, accounting for 350,000 jobs and a GDP of £10 billion.

Mark Froud, chief executive of Sussex Enterprise, the county’s chamber of commerce, said exact details of the LEP bid have still to be thrashed out.

But it will focus on a theme of “exporting” and promote three main areas: Bognor, Gatwick/Manor Royal and Shoreham Port.

Mr Froud said: “Our bid will be unlike anything else so it will at least catch ministers’ attention. It is a bold step by local authority leaders to work together in a way they have never done before.”

Companies that already export will be encouraged to explore new markets and share best practice so that others may follow.

LEPs will have access to a Regional Growth Fund of about £1 billion but will need to apply through an Independent Approval Panel, chaired by Lord Heseltine.

Mr Froud admits that public money will be scarce but believes that even a small amount could generate up to £6 billion of private investment over a 25 year period.

Rosemary French, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, said priorities for the LEP would be upgrading the rail station at Gatwick, setting up a university centre in the Crawley area and the regeneration of town centres such as Burgess Hill and East Grinstead.

Peter Jones, leader of East Sussex County Council, said the authority has put its bid together with co-operation from district and borough councils.

The East Sussex LEP would look to spend £1 billion over the next ten years, principally in four areas. It will build on the existing Hastings and Bexhill development areas, the south Wealden and Polegate areas and the regeneration of town centres.

The plan would also see Newhaven become a centre for environmental technologies on the back of the wind farm that has been earmarked near the town.

LEP bids have to be submitted by September 6 while more details over their responsibilities will be outlined in a White Paper due to be published in the autumn.