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£2.6M Investment from LEP for Blyth Workspace

A key development at Commissioners Quay, Blyth has got the go-ahead following the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s award of £2.6m from its North East Investment Fund.

The £2.6m is the final piece in the funding jigsaw and means Blyth Workspace, a landmark office development which aims to attract businesses connected to the offshore, subsea and marine sector, can get underway.

The development will be built at the LEP’s North East Enterprise Zone site in Blyth, which offers added benefits for investors. Commissioners Quay is close to Narec, (National Renewable Energy Centre) and the Port of Blyth, Northumberland, both pivotal to the region’s offshore energy market.

Blyth Workspace will offer over 30,000 sq ft of office space in a four storey office block with flexible terms for inward investors.

Michael Bellamy, North East LEP board member and general manager of Cramlington-based PII Pipeline Solutions, said: “This is an important new development for Northumberland and the wider LEP area. It fits the LEP’s priorities well, by assisting in the development of the Enterprise Zone site at the Port of Blyth and bringing superb office space close to the waterfront, designed to attract new inward investors in the offshore, marine and energy sectors. The North East Investment Fund is ideal for projects such as this, which aim to regenerate and attract new life, jobs and investment to underused land.”

The development has also received funding support from the North East European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 and the Homes and Communities Agency.

Ronnie Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley said: “This is excellent news for Blyth, with regional funds from the LEP being used in a targeted way to grow the town’s business prospects. The offshore and renewable sector is already well-represented here with Narec, which is internationally recognised for its innovative work. The Workspace scheme adds to Blyth’s distinctive strengths in this market, and I’m delighted that the first bricks will be laid this year following funding from the LEP’s North East Investment Fund.”

Andrew Mill, Narec’s chief executive said: “Narec’s facilities are world-class and we are working with the LEP and others to galvanise manufacturers, suppliers and the whole river system to service the offshore energy sector.
“We are now ensuring we have our assets in place, such as Blyth Workspace, so we can attract international manufacturers into the UK. The knock-on effect of that will create opportunities for suppliers to set up close by, which will stimulate serial manufacturing on our rivers.”

Blyth Workspace is the centrepiece of a wider mixed use scheme at the Commissioners Quay site being developed by Arch, the Northumberland development company. Construction of Blyth Workspace will begin in winter 2013 and be completed in 2015.

Councillor Dave Ledger, Arch Group Chair and Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “It’s great news that the North East LEP has approved £2.6m funding for Blyth Workspace. It gives the green light to a development which is central to the transformation of this area. It will be great to see work begin and watch the waterfront change, ready for new business in the future.”

Northumberland County Council recently gave planning permission for the Blyth workspace development.

Councillor Grant Davey, Leader of Northumberland County Council and North East LEP board member, said: “I’m delighted that the LEP’s investment panel has approved the funding. The regeneration scheme will bring a new dimension to Blyth estuary, and puts in place the best possible conditions to attract major offshore and marine investment to Northumberland in the future. It also breathes new life into an area of Blyth close to the town centre, and will have an impact on the town and the wider region.”

Martin Lawlor, chief executive of the Port of Blyth said: “We have seen record-breaking sales at the port last year and Blyth is now one of the most prominent renewable energy-related ports in the UK. The North East LEP’s investment fund completes the funding for an important part of the Port’s expansion – a modern, purpose-built office building to house companies associated with the area’s growth.
“It’s good to see that the Enterprise Zone around the Port of Blyth is bringing major new benefits to the town and the North East such as this key regeneration scheme.”

The North East Investment Fund is a £55m loan fund managed by the North East LEP. It has already invested £25m in local projects and the LEP is looking for further projects in which to invest and help grow key business sectors across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham.

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 790246 or 07711 698246.