200-jobs plan brings New Year cheer to Sunderland

COMPANY SUCCESS: Vantec Corporation President Akira Koyama, left, pictured with Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council at the opening of the Vantec warehouse.

COMPANY SUCCESS: Vantec Corporation President Akira Koyama, left, pictured with Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council at the opening of the Vantec warehouse.

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SUNDERLAND could be set for New Year cheer after ambitious plans to create 200 new jobs were announced.

Vantec, which has already invested £22.5million into its Wearside warehouse and distribution operation, plans to expand its set-up.

The company, which moved on to Sunderland’s Turbine Business Park in February 2013, hopes to increase its operations as it applies to build another distribution and warehouse unit next to its existing base.

A planning application has been submitted to Sunderland City Council which, if given the go ahead, could bring 200 new jobs to the area, adding to the 200-plus roles it created with the launch of its unit off the A19.

Last month, the Echo reported how Sunderland City Council chiefs were in negotiations with a firm which wanted to take on a section of the land, but could not reveal its identity while talks were ongoing.

Now Vantec, which provides logistics and warehousing for the neighbouring Nissan car plant, has confirmed it is the developer of the 34,357sq ft building.

The scheme forms part of the A19 enterprise zone, which aims to put the North East at the forefront of developing low carbon vehicles.

The whole project, which is estimated to be worth £21million, could eventually bring more than 3,000 jobs to the area.

The planning application submitted to the council sets out how the new building will be designed to match Vantec’s existing base on the corner of the A19 and A1231.

The firm, which also has a base in Cherry Blossom Way, says it has contributed towards various road requirements, including at the junction of the A19 and A1231 slip road, along with improvements to infrastructure for bus stops and bridge work improvements.

A decision over the plans is to be delegated to the council’s director of development and regeneration.

The council’s cabinet was told Vantec could be on the new site this year and must be operational by December (2015) for the project to be viable.

Members agreed to appropriate 10 hectares of land on the council-owned Hillthorn Farm plot, east of Nissan, for planning purposes and give its backing with a £100,000 contribution to the newly formed North East Automotive Alliance (Nema), which will be based in Sunderland.

The proposed new base will be fitted with solar panels on its roof. It would have a flexible floor space to allow it to deal with different kinds of warehousing and possible future production requirements, along with car parking, motor cycle bays and bike stores would be set up.

Vantec started providing services to Nissan in 1990, with the Japanese firm now the largest car plan in the UK and the most productive in Europe, and also supports Komatsu and Cummins Engines elsewhere in the region.

It is owned by Hitachi Transport System and also has offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

l Meanwhile, workers facing redundancy from collapsed courier firm City Link were offered a glimmer of hope when it was claimed that there had been a “credible bid” to save part of the business.

Staff at the company, many of whom learnt of its collapse on Christmas Day, have been warned to expect “substantial redundancies” among its 2,727-strong workforce, which includes 56 based in Belmont, Durham.

But they were offered a small degree of hope after Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, disclosed unconfirmed details of a possible rescue, with Business Secretary Vince Cable said to be aware of developments.