A CONTRACT to transform the historic Swan Hunter shipyard into a global hub for the green energy industry is up for grabs.
North Tyneside Council today announced it is offering a developer a stake worth up to £50m in its plans to bring more than 1,000 new jobs to the region with a world-class renewable energies centre.
It is expected that the opportunity to take control of the famous shipyard – which was bought by the council in 2009 – will attract attention from across the continent.
The announcement has already sparked interest from ex-Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd who ploughed millions into regenerating the adjacent Neptune Yard in Walker.
Last night a spokesman for his company Shepherd Offshore confirmed they would be launching a bid to acquire the site and described it as an exciting opportunity.
The developer role could potentially involve the construction of buildings for marine and renewable energy industries along the banks of the River Tyne as well as overseeing the expansion of the council’s Learning Village which would train hundreds of apprentices.
The contract, worth between £30m and £50m, has been made available by the council through European and central government grants and private-sector investment.
North Tyneside’s elected mayor Linda Arkley said: “This is an exciting opportunity for a developer partner or consortium to be involved in shaping the future of this well-known former shipyard, creating thousands of jobs for local people.”
“To make that happen we need to ensure we have the infrastructure available for potential investors and that the site is well managed.
“This proposal will help us explore the opportunities with interested partners and to clarify which option would work best for the borough and the wider low-carbon enterprise zone.”
Mr Shepherd’s company Shepherd Offshore is believed to have previously shown an interest to North Tyneside Council to take control of the dilapidated site.
And a spokesman for the firm confirmed they would be launching a bid to acquire the site.
He said: “We will be looking at this business venture with great interest and hoping to put together a package.”
A formal notice inviting interested parties to attend a council open day next month has been placed in the European Union Journal.
A final decision on who has been selected as the preferred developer will be announced in December.
Mrs Arkley said Swan Hunter has received a boost in businesses wanting to locate to the site since it was re-designated as a low-carbon enterprise zone, which brings with it reduced business rates for companies relocating before March 2015.
Discussions with those businesses hoping to move to the site have already taken place and their requirements identified, including expansion provision over the next 10 years.
North Tyneside Council has also applied for funding for infrastructure on the site including utility provision, access and quay edge improvement and dredging.
Mrs Arkley said: “Our integrated investment strategy will reinvigorate the riverside employment sites and create new private-sector job opportunities in high-value emerging markets.”