WEARSIDE will play a major role in a new North East Enterprise Zone set to create thousands of jobs in the region.
Whitehall bosses have decided to give the green light to a new zone along the A19, aimed at supporting the development of the North East’s low carbon industry.
Chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans for a new North East Urban Enterprise Zone in his budget speech in March.
Businesses setting up in the zone will get tax breaks and the Government confirmed today it will make extra cash available for investment in plant and machinery.
The zone’s exact location was left up to the North Eastern Local Economic Partnership, which brings together businesses and councils from Northumberland to County Durham.
Five councils – Sunderland, Durham, North and South Tyneside and Northumberland – backed proposals for the A19 zone, expected to create 11,000 jobs from Blyth to Murton.
Newcastle and Gateshead favoured an alternative which would concentrate on city centre renewal, including development of the Farringdon Row, Stadium Park and Vaux brewery sites in Sunderland, predicted to create more than 32,000 jobs.
In the end, the A19 scheme won through – and it was given the thumbs-up by ministers this morning.
The low carbon research centre being developed near Nissan will have a pivotal part to play in attracting investment in the industry to the North East.
Gary Hutchinson, chairman of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Sunderland committee, predicted knock-on benefits for the whole of Wearside.
“It is good to see we are marking our aims for the region with a Low Carbon Economy Zone which should send a message to potential investors in the sector,” he said.
“Sunderland will do well from this bid in terms of the city centre and the project further supports a key aim of the Economic Masterplan, which emphasises development of this sector in the city.”
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said today’s announcement was evidence the LEP was working.
He said: “The most important thing was that we managed to sit down round the table and reach a decision.
“Businesses and local authorities are working successfully together, which is something which has not always worked before.”
l For detailed analysis of the Enterprise Zone announcement, don’t miss tomorrow’s Echo