Building for future growth in Newcastle

As the UK Contractors' Group meets in Newcastle to throw the spotlight on the role construction plays in stimulating the economy, Newcastle City Council chief executive Pat Ritchie explains how the authority is putting infrastructure investment at the heart of growth

A computer generated image of what the Stephenson Quarter will look like
A computer generated image of what the Stephenson Quarter will look like

There are mixed views on the strength, depth and sustainability of the recovery which is currently under way.

But what is not in doubt is that Newcastle City Council has been investing heavily in the city, supporting business and creating the conditions for growth throughout the recession.

Since the city council launched its working city plan in 2011, we have been delivering one of the most ambitious programmes of support for the local economy anywhere in the UK, putting cranes back on the skyline and people back into work.

We have been financing infrastructure, which brings jobs, training and employment opportunities and huge supply chain benefits for our business community.

Today, in Newcastle, The UK Contractors’ Group launches its Creating Britain’s Future campaign, shining a light on the crucial role construction plays in stimulating growth and how the council is contributing.

The council has been playing a pivotal role by directly financing infrastructure from our £450m capital programme, using our unique borrowing powers to accelerate development and using our resources to support private and public partners in driving forward development.

We played an influential role as an early champion of Tax Incremental Financing, recognising that this new approach would re-energise the economy and speed up progress on the ground in key sites.

This will also help to create important additional constructions jobs in the short to medium term.

We have backed up our strategy for a working city by negotiating an innovative City Deal which will unlock around £90m investment to create 13,000 jobs over the next 25 years through an Accelerated Development Zone.

The strength of our partnership with the construction industry can be seen in every corner of the city, which is now bustling with new development.

We cannot talk about growth without talking about construction and currently we are working with many contractors and their teams, like McAlpine, Miller Construction, Galliford Try Infrastructure, Mansell, O’Brien, Fairhurst, Tolent and many, many more.

The future success of our economy is critically dependent on our ability to create opportunities for this sector and we recognise that infrastructure investment is the key to growth.

Out of a total budget of £28m, over 50% is spent on companies in a 20-mile radius with 17 Newcastle companies involved in various work packages. Their work in the region is supported by the employment of 33 apprentices. Across the city this is magnified many times over.

In the Stephenson Quarter, where we used our resources to unlock a stalled investment, a £200m scheme will bring 2,200 much needed jobs. Linked to this, we are working with Network Rail, East Coast and NE1 on an investment of up to £40-50m in Central Station.

With partners Newcastle University, our Science City development is now taking shape promising 1,900 jobs over the next 15 to 20 years. The Core, Science Central, the first building on site, is due to open in October 2014.

The council and the HCA have signed a Framework Development Agreement with Carillion-Igloo Ltd to begin work on a 76-home eco-friendly development called The Malings, constructed on the east bank of the Ouseburn.

This is one phase of a programme that will invest £50m in key sites running along both banks of the Ouseburn.

Our cabinet recently approved our local plan, which is a prospectus for Newcastle’s future bringing 14,000 jobs - and 21,000 homes, which will be delivered by the construction industry and supported by a £25m Future Homes Fund.

Elswhere, in Scotswood, on Great Park, in the retail and offshore sectors with partners and as part of a consortia, construction and growth go hand in hand helping us move to a long-lasting sustainable recovery.

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