SUNDERLAND and South Tyneside’s multi-million pound City Deal agreement will be as vital for the North East as the arrival of Nissan.
That was the prediction from South Tyneside Council leader Coun Iain Malcolm as he put pen to paper on the agreement.
Coun Malcolm joined Sunderland opposite number Coun Paul Watson, cities minister Greg Clark and North East Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Paul Woolston at Unipres’ manufacturing plant near Nissan for the signing ceremony.
The factory is a stone’s throw from the site where a new 100-hectare International Advanced Manufacturing Park, predicted to attract £295million of private sector investment and create an estimated 5,200 new jobs, will be developed on the border of the two authorities.
The development – the equivalent of 140 football pitches of new industry and business park –- will house automotive, off-shore and other hi-tech businesses and build on the region’s manufacturing heritage.
As well as the business park plan, the deal confirms £82.5million of funding for Sunderland’s new Wear bridge project and backing for developing the Vaux site into a central business district.
“This announcement is as significant for South Tyneside and Sunderland as the announcement 30 years ago that Nissan was coming to the region,” said Coun Malcolm. “In years to come, this will prove to be a momentous decision.”
He also revealed plans to build a Metro station near the site.
He added: “We need to have good public transport links and we’ve already been talking to transport chiefs about whether or not we need a formal Metro line and new station north of Nissan which will allow people from Washington and also people from South Tyneside to take advantage of the new jobs which will be created here over the next few years.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg invited Sunderland and South Tyneside to bid for the deal at the beginning of 2013 and approved it in March this year .
North East-born Mr Clark was delighted to be on Wearside to sign the agreement. “A huge amount of hard work has gone into this by the two councils and local businesses, working together for the future of the region,” he said. “This City Deal is going to be transformational.”
Coun Watson added: “This is a very significant moment for Sunderland, for South Tyneside and the wider North- East region. The Government recognises how the City Deal is going to be a catalyst for future economic growth. This park and its regeneration benefits will be seen and felt across the whole North East.
“We have worked closely with the Government, with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), and we received tremendous backing from our friends in business and the private sector.
“Already, we’ve started engaging with the construction and engineering industry about our new road bridge over the Wear between Pallion and Castletown.
“This river crossing is going to help open up more regeneration opportunities and smooth traffic flows. Work has also started and more is planned on improvements to the A19 corridor.
“Signing here today in Unipres is very significant because it is this type of high- calibre manufacturing that is going to be housed in the business park. There is pent-up demand for more manufacturing jobs in our region and especially around this crucial A19 corridor.”