Plans to transform the site of the former Blyth power station into a thriving cluster of businesses working in the offshore sector have moved a step closer.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has handed over £600,000 from its Investment Fund to Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, for preparatory remediation and design studies on the land, which lies within an Enterprise Zone.
Ultimately, it is hoped the East Sleekburn site can be marketed to businesses in the offshore industry, creating a cluster around the neighbouring National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) and the deepwater docking facilities offered by the Port of Blyth.
North East LEP chairman Paul Woolston said: “There are 10 Enterprise Zones sites in the North East LEP area and they are all at different stages of development. Some have buildings completed and businesses operating, creating several hundred jobs, while others are more challenging and at earlier stages of development.
“East Sleekburn is likely to be a more challenging site to develop as it is transformed from its former days as the old Blyth power station site. We need to get this work under way as soon as possible and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership can help to make this happen.
“We have agreed to loan funds from the North East Investment Fund for all the preparatory work. The work will reveal what works need to happen to the site to attract business, what infrastructure is needed and what needs to be done to get the site market ready.
“We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement in the Budget to extend the financial incentives for EZ sites for a further three years, which should really help in securing a long-term future for this site.”
The land is central to plans to attract strategic investment to south east Northumberland and develop its offshore industry supply chain, creating jobs and economic growth.
The funding will also be used to produce design development guidance, highlighting the opportunities and constraints of the site. It is anticipated that the work will take around six months to complete.
Arch Group managing director Peter McIntyre said: “Obviously, as a former power station site it has some key infrastructure but we need to assess the degree to which a regeneration programme will need to be implemented to make the site attractive for further investment.
“The aim is to create a major deepwater facility for use for offshore industries, generating significant jobs, investment and partnerships between the Port of Blyth, Narec and the broader Northumberland supply chain.
“This is at the heart of Arch’s core strategy to enable brownfield sites for strategic investment, creating jobs and wealth for the broader Northumberland economy.”