THE Government has given its approval for the creation of an enterprise zone on Teesside which will cover a dozen sites and is hoped to bring hundreds of jobs to an area stretching from Darlington to the coast.
There was delight at enterprise group Tees Valley Unlimited which had submitted the bid which is aimed at attracting and helping the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Tees Valley Unlimited’s chairman, Sandy Anderson said: “This is just the outcome we wanted. In laying the foundations for the long-term transformation of the region, approval of the enterprise zone is another significant tool to help us achieve our goals.”
The enterprise zones offer firms an initial freeze in business rates followed by permission for councils to keep all increased rates for 25 years. This fund is then handed to a local enterprise partnership made up of council chiefs and business leaders to spend as they wish.
Businesses locating on Queen’s Meadow, South West Iron Masters, Kirkleatham and Belasis Hall Technology Park before March 2015, will benefit from business rate discount worth up to £55,000 per business for five years.
The sites will have the advantage of simplified planning regimes to help attract and support the growth and development of SMEs. Tees Valley Unlimited said smaller businesses are fundamental in growing the supply chain for the area’s petro-chemical, renewable energy, advanced engineering and digital industries.
Income secured from the Government for these four sites will enable the provision of identical financial incentives at Oakesway, Northshore, Darlington Central Park and St Hilda’s.
This will help ensure both an immediate opportunity for the sub-region and provide a building block for long-term growth as Tees Valley Unlimited looks to invest locally and drive forward the economy over the next 25 years.
The area is one of only a few across the country which can now additionally offer large-scale occupiers enhanced capital allowances against the cost of their plant and machinery.
Four sites at Wilton and PD Ports/South Bank Wharf both in Redcar and Cleveland, Port Estates in Hartlepool and the New Energy and Tech Park in Billingham can apply the benefit for capital investments made by March 2015.
Sites put forward in the original strategy for the tax increment finance scheme to fund infrastructure and site preparation are part of the long-term vision and can be subsequently funded either by the income generated by the enterprise zone or by local prudent borrowing.
Tees Valley Unlimited managing director, Stephen Catchpole said: “TVU, our partners and stakeholders have received strong commendation for the long-term plan that we presented as it demonstrated an appreciation of our industrial heritage and identified sectors in which we can and should be growing, including the new and exciting digital sector.
“The Government’s priority is to achieve delivery within a shorter timescale up to 2015 and therefore we have worked together to agree a plan that will both achieve results and give us the foundation on which to build our long-term transformation of the Tees Valley.
“I am delighted with today’s announcement and should like to pay tribute particularly to our local authority partners and the business representative organisations, whose effort and support have secured this achievement.
“I believe the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone will be a great success and look forward to the hard work ahead to ensure its delivery.”
Last month the Government announced the first four enterprise zones in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield, but plans have not been finalised for an application for Tyneside and County Durham.