AN OFFICIAL signing of the Sunderland City Deal in Partnership with South Tyneside has taken place.
It was done today (Monday 16 June) at the Unipres manufacturing plant in Cherry Blossom Way, off the A1290, close to where plans are being readied for a 100-hectare International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) as part of the City Deal.
The park land is to the west of the A19 and sits across the borders of Sunderland and South Tyneside. A manufacturing park here is predicted to attract £295m of private sector investment and create an estimated 5,200 new jobs.
The development – the equivalent of 140 football pitches of new industry and business park – would house automotive, off-shore and other hi-tech businesses. It would build on the North East region’s track record for manufacturing and exports.
As well as the park, the deal confirmed £82.5m towards Sunderland’s new Wear bridge project and backing for developing the city’s Vaux site into a central business district.
Signing on behalf of the Government was Cities Minister Greg Clark who was joined by council and business leaders.
Paul Woolston, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The Sunderland and South Tyneside City Deal is a great opportunity for the North East. It is a significant step towards delivering our ambitious plans to create more and better jobs through making, trading and innovating.
“The International Advanced Manufacturing Park builds on the success of the North East Enterprise Zone and cements our international reputation in manufacturing. The deal shows that through partnership working we can achieve great things for the North East.”
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Today we have put pen to paper and signed off this key document.
“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 region and indeed the country.
“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.
“We’re getting on with a building a bridge that people in Sunderland have been campaigning about for 50 years. 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 through Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“In working closely with the private sector, the City Deal has reflected our regional priorities of promoting more growth and our strengths in manufacturing.
“These priorities are also very much in line with Sunderland’s very own Economic Masterplan.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had invited Sunderland and South Tyneside to bid for the deal at the beginning of 2013 and approved it in March 2014.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “This deal is of international significance, and shows the scale of our shared ambition and our commitment to economic growth in spite of the difficult financial climate.
“We know there is potential for manufacturing jobs in our region and strong interest in land for advanced manufacturing, and this deal can now move forward and make it a reality.
“In South Tyneside we have secured record levels of investment in recent years, and we are continuing to invest through things like the £100m South Shields 365 vision.
“Above all, today is about councils and business working together to create the jobs and growth the area needs.
“When it was announced, the deal was being compared in its scale and size to when Nissan first announced that it was moving to the region.”
Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet is looking at the stages of the deal, including drawing up planning policies, when it meets in two days time (Wednesday 18 June).
The deal is seeing Sunderland and South Tyneside working closely with the NELEP, plus the Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland Combined Authority.
Unipres employs in excess of 1000 staff at its Sunderland plant manufacturing a wide range of car body structural parts for automotive customers including Nissan and Honda.
Gary Graham, Managing Director of Unipres (UK) Limited, said:
“It is a great honour for Unipres to host the signing of this historical deal.
“The development of the manufacturing park and infrastructure improvements should prove a massive boost for the region’s economy and reinforces the growing reputation of the location as an advanced manufacturing hub.”
Equipped with state-of-the-art press and assembly technology, Unipres specialises in processes that use high tensile materials, tailored blank welding and hot pressing to meet customers growing demands for lighter, stronger components.
The company has invested over £60m in the past two years to increase its production capacity in Sunderland. Since the company was established 1987 sales turnover has increased to over £190m.