New Enterprise Zones to boost business in Sunderland

Paul Woolston.
Paul Woolston.
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Sunderland's port and new advanced manufacturing park are to become Enterprise Zones under plans announced this week.

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in his autumn spending review that an application by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for a second Enterprise Zone (EZ) in the region had been approved.

Like the first EZ, the new one will be spilt between several sites across the region.

Now the LEP has confirmed where those sites will be.

As well as the Port of Sunderland and the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IMAP) being developed near Nissan as part of the city deal with South Tyneside, Hawthorn Business Park in Durham is also included in the list.

The new EZ, with sites stretching from Northumberland to County Durham, will focus on growing businesses, particularly working in the LEP’s four smart specialisation areas of health and life sciences, creative and digital, subsea, and low carbon industries.

It will cover 175 hectares and aims to deliver a further 14,000 jobs and 600,000sq m of employment opportunities over the 25-year lifetime of the project.

The IAMP is exeopcted to crerate more than 5,000 new jobs.

Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson said: "The North East is at the forefront of the UK's manufacturing and automotive sector. We have a balance of trade surplus and we are a major contributor to UK plc. We have the potential to raise these contributions which is why we are creating the IAMP. Plus, there is great potential to develop more land and attract more business at Port of Sunderland.

"The new Enterprise Zone status is a welcome boost and a welcome recognition from Government of the partnership between Sunderland and South Tyneside. The IMAP can play a key part in this region's economic growth and in the country's economic growth. It is a project of major national significance.

"Port of Sunderland, too, is growing and there is room and the potential for it to play a greater role regionally and nationally."

A round of public consultation on possible sites for the IAMP is getting under way.

South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm added: "We know that there is huge potential for manufacturing jobs in our region and strong interest in land for advanced manufacturing.

"We are keen to move forward at pace to make our plans for the IAMP a reality so that we can secure jobs and opportunities for people across the region.

"This news, as well as the confirmation of an Enterprise Zone site at Holborn will help the Borough attract national and internationally renowned businesses to further boost the economic growth that the North East needs. The park is expected to create more than 5,000 highly skilled jobs in the first phase, and build on our track record for manufacturing and exports."

Port of Sunderland was re-connected to the rail network earlier this year after investment from Network Rail.

Port director Matthew Hunt said: "We have many significant commercial advantages with our estate, our facilities, our access to the country's road network, and our updated link into the rail network.

"Ports have always played a major role in how the UK trades and Port of Sunderland is no exception. This new zone status can help unlock more of our export and import potential."

The North East LEP worked with the seven local authorities and the North East Combined Authority on the successful proposal for a second EZ. The new sites are designed to complement existing sites and drive growth through making, trading and innovating.

Helen Golightly, North East LEP Chief Operating Officer, said: “We will now be working with the Government to refine the details of the new Enterprise Zone ahead of it being put into statute to go live in April 2017.

“The new Enterprise Zone will give us yet another offer to attract businesses to locate and expand in the region, and help us to deliver our strategic economic plan to deliver more and better jobs for the North East.”

Businesses located within EZs benefit from a number of key advantages designed to drive their growth. These include business rate discounts for up to five years or tax savings via enhanced capital allowances for businesses investing in plant and machinery.

The LEP’s first EZ has been offering benefits to business in the offshore, renewables and automotive sectors since 2012. Since its creation, the EZ has attracted over £100 million of new private sector investment and resulted in over 1,200 new jobs and 25 new businesses.

North East LEP Chairman, Paul Woolston, said: “I’m delighted about our successful bid for a second Enterprise Zone for the region, and we’re thrilled to reveal the locations of the ten sites that will be included.