The last few months have been punctuated by announcements which will help bolster the economic well-being of the region. Helen Logan takes
a look at some of them.
PLANS were unveiled for a business park next to the Nissan plant in Sunderland with the promise of 4,000 jobs for the city. A deal has been secured involving developers Clugston and Wilton and the Japanese company. The developers have acquired 45 acres of land from Nissan next to the A1231, close to the junction with the A19.
The £4.5m proceeds from the land sale will pay for Nissan to build a new logistics centre to service its plant.
The new business park will comprise offices, a hotel, light industrial buildings, warehouses, a motor dealership, shops and leisure facilities.
The developers have drawn up the blueprints for the schemes working with Nissan, Sunderland City Council and regional development agency One NorthEast.
Coun Bob Symonds, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Nissan contributes almost £500m to the local economy each year, while the company and its component suppliers provide over 15,000 jobs in Sunderland and the surrounding area so this is a welcome enhancement of its business.”
“The new business park will strengthen Sunderland’s reputation as an international business location.”
Nissan’s 215,000 sq ft logistics centre, which will be operated by a specialist contractor, will be built close to the existing factory.
The company says it is now importing more parts from abroad, and in bulk, via the Port of Tyne so a new logistics centre will help handle this operation, and cut lorry deliveries to its plant by 11,000 each year.
Trevor Mann, senior vice president of manufacturing in Europe for Nissan, said: “By bulk sourcing parts we are making significant total cost savings, which helps our plant to improve its competitiveness. This in turn puts us in a stronger position when bidding for future models.
“Not only does this create some new jobs, it goes some way towards safeguarding around 1,000 posts at our plant by making us more cost competitive at a time when competition in the global car industry is becoming increasingly fierce.”
Construction on the logistics centre will begin later this month and Clugston and Wilton hope to be on site for their development later this year or early in 2008.
TWO major job boosts have been announced for Darlington.
The Student Loans Company (SLC) is to increase its operation there, generating up to 520 new jobs in the process.
The jobs, which will take its total workforce in the town up to 650, will be in customer services, processing, administration and management.
The company is moving to new premises in Lingfield Point Business Park.
Two years ago, the company created 130 jobs at Mowden Hall, Darlington, and these staff will move into the new offices in April.
And the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) is to open a base at the town’s Morton Palms.
Some jobs will transfer from elsewhere in the country but 230 people will be based at the new premises.
The ISA is the new public body responsible for improving vetting procedures, which help organisations increase protection of children and vulnerable adults by screening out unsuitable employees and volunteers.
The SLC is taking 70,000 square feet in the Memphis building, which was originally the balling department of the Paton and Baldwins wool manufacturing plant, where the wool was wound at the end of the production process.
Up to 200 people would have worked in this area.
John Orchard, director of Marchday, owner of Lingfield Point, said: “With the creation of another 500 new jobs by SLC, the number of people working at Lingfield Point will soon outnumber those working here in the heyday of the Paton and Baldwins wool factory.”
THE North-East is in the running to secure £1bn in energy research funding that could bring thousands of jobs to the region.
The region’s bid to host the Energy Technologies Institute has been chosen by Government inspectors to go through to the final bidding round.
A science consortium, led by Newcastle University and involving the Teesside-based Centre for Process Innovation, Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham Universities and the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) in Blyth, says if the North-East is successful it will become the renewable energy capital of the UK.
The Devonshire Building on the university campus is now up against sites in Scotland and the Midlands after the Government selected the final three bids to become the focus of a decade’s worth of science investment. If the bid is successful it could create at least as many jobs as the 8,000 already working in the North-East energy sector.
Nick Brown, Minister for the North-East, said: “So far so good. The North-East bid is a very credible one and it deserves to be shortlisted. The eventual decision will be based on merit but I am certain that our bid has the strength to win.
“A billion-pound project coming to the region would have incredible benefits.
“It will bring in many science-based jobs and also some less skilled jobs. Our region wants to be at the forefront of the fight against global warming and climate change and this project can only strengthen that ambition.”
Professor Paul Younger, bid co-ordinator, said: “This area has deeper routes in energy science and engineering than any other in the world. Our team believes passionately that the ETI would thrive in North-East England.” The Government expects to announce the ETI host in October.
THE North-East has been chosen for the first in a series of six mixed use network villages making up a £50m investment.
The first potential site has been identified in the North-East, on the former East Durham coalfield in Murton which closed in 1991.
Developer Network Space is in discussion with Easington Council. The vision for the network villages is to create vibrant developments, combining 300,000 sq ft of high quality business space with housing, in former English coalfield communities. Network Villages will deliver accommodation for more than 1,200 jobs and provide homes and amenities.
Network Space is a joint venture between Langtree and the Government’s national regeneration agency English Partnerships.
John Downes, managing director of Langtree, said: “This radical new initiative is entirely consistent with the Government’s intentions for the delivery of urban renaissance and the creation of sustainable communities. It will not only foster job creation, but will provide a sense of community by bringing homes and business units together.
“We will focus on energy efficient buildings using modern methods of construction and innovative design. We aim to work closely with the local community in the area to deliver the most sustainable and vibrant scheme possible.”
John Walker, chief executive of English Partnerships, said: “Network Space was launched by John Prescott in 1999 and plugged a serious gap in the market place. In partnership with Langtree, we have successfully delivered over 700,000 sq ft of workspace and high quality office accommodation in former coalfield areas, fostering more than 2,200 jobs.”
DEALS are being lined up at phase one of a new office development at Northumberland’s largest business park. Recently Developer Gladman Developments revealed that a number of units at the site are already in the hands of solicitors, with high interest in the remaining 70,000 sq ft of phase one.
Northumberland Business Park is being developed on a 47-acre site at the junction of the A19 and A189, just south of Cramlington by Cheshire-based Gladman Developments, in partnership with Northumberland County Council. It will be Northumberland’s largest business park and should help bring 3,000 jobs over the next nine years, a £55m investment in the economy.
Work has already started on the second phase – a further 65,000 sq ft of offices.
David Smith, of Gladman Developments, said: “We expect the new accommodation to provide local business owners, ‘footloose’ national organisations and public sector bodies with a wide range of purpose-built, high quality office space in the area for the first time.
“The strong initial response suggests that we are correct.”