November started with good news as the North East was chosen to host one of just three UK Digital Catapult Centres, tasked with generating thousands of jobs and encouraging investment by 2025.
The Government-backed Digital Catapult, a national centre which aims to develop the UK’s digital prowess, is to be led by Sunderland Software City following a successful bid by the North East and Teesside LEPs.
The Sunderland-based centre, due to open in March next year, is set to provide space for start-ups and small businesses in the creative and technology sectors to develop and showcase their digital ideas and products.
Armed with £500,000 of funding, the North East consortia will focus specifically on the controlled delivery and security of data so as to increase information sharing amongst businesses and organisations and to open up new business models and revenue streams.
UK Land Estates announced plans for a £30m industrial scheme in Gateshead which could create more than 1,600 jobs.
The project on the Team Valley Trading Estate will be capable of accommodating around 850 workers from businesses operating within the finished development.
A further 780 jobs will be supported, directly and indirectly, throughout the construction phase.
Included within the masterplan are three buildings – the flagship No 1 Team Valley with up to 80,000sqft including offices and Nos 2 and 3 Kingsway, each boasting 30,000sqft including high specification two-storey offices.
The Conservatives were warned that their flirtation with leaving the European Union risks destroying the rural economy in areas like the North East.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss was given the blunt warning as she addressed a farming conference in what is normally considered be her party’s safest seat in the North East, Hexham.
But prominent landowner and farmer Charles Beaumont told her the party’s flirtation with the “nuclear” option of leaving the EU would do massive harm to the farming industry by leaving UK agriculture stranded between heavily subsidised blocks in the EU and America.
The exchange came at the Northern Farming Conference, an event organised by the Country Land Association and a number of other bodies prominent in the rural economy.
The resurgence of Newcastle city centre’s leisure industry continued as plans were announced for a £2.5m development of the White Hart Yard, off Grey Street.
The Ladhar group outlined its scheme to restore historic buildings back to their former glory in a project inspired by the destination pop-up developments of Shoreditch and Dalston in London.
The project, covering more than 30,000sqft of Grade I property between Grey Street and the Cloth Market will be carried out in stages, eventually encompassing five floors and – including terraced areas – at least nine different zones, each pledging to offer visitors a unique experience.
Ladhar has owned the building for 15 years but bided its time in going forward while it worked with a range of bodies to ensure sure their plans make a perfect fit with planners’ vision for the city.
Developments were also afoot at Hoults Yard in Newcastle, where plans were announced for a £3m development to turn a former factory into a digital hub.
The firm was awarded more than £1.5m from the Europea, which it match-funded, and work has started to create 40 offices which will be open for business in June 2015,
Hoults said the offices will address an urgent need for bespoke workspace for the fast-growing creative and tech sector in the North East in over 45,000 sq ft of space.