NINE thousand new jobs are a step closer to reality after council bosses agreed to enter into consultation about an advanced manufacturing park in Washington.
A consultation process over proposals for land north of Nissan could get underway as soon as next month.
The manufacturing park is part of the £87.5m Sunderland and South Tyneside city deal confirmed by the Government last year.
Council officers will now discuss progress made so far, with their South Tyneside counterparts, and how best it can be taken forward prior to the submission of planning applications.
An area action plan will be drawn up to secure all the permissions, processes and consents necessary to make the park a reality.
The proposed location for the park is a 100-plus-hectare site to the north of the Nissan factory, west of the A19 and bordering South Tyneside.
The park, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during a visit to the Nissan plant in March last year, is expected to be completed by 2027, creating 5,200 new manufacturing jobs initially, from 2018 onwards, with a further 3,700 set to follow by 2031.
Creating the necessary infrastructure for it is budgeted to cost about £5m, but it is being predicted to have the potential to attract about £295m in private-sector investment.
In a report to the meeting, Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “Our two councils are continuing to work together on this city deal and the creation of the international advanced manufacturing park.
“This report is outlining how we can progress the park.
“As the city deal has set out, there are opportunities for significant investment and job creation, and our councils want to secure those opportunities for the region.”