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East Sleekburn investment made

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has agreed £600,000 of funding to start preparations to develop land at a South East Northumberland Enterprise Zone site to attract investors.

The money from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Investment Fund has been granted to Arch The Northumberland Development Company to pay for preparatory remediation and design studies at East Sleekburn.

The former Blyth power station brownfield site was designated an EZ site in 2012 to attract significant investment from the offshore sectors. It is adjacent to the site earmarked for a major biomass plant which was expected to create 350 jobs, but that development recently fell through.

The aim is to market the land to businesses in the offshore industry to create a cluster around the neighbouring Narec site and the deepwater docking facilities offered by the Port of Blyth. The site benefits from Enterprise Zone status but it is likely to require substantial work before it is ready for businesses to move in.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said:
“There are 10 Enterprise Zones sites in the North East LEP area and they are all at different stages of development. Some have buildings completed and businesses operating, creating several hundred jobs, whilst others are more challenging and at earlier stages of development.

“East Sleekburn is likely to be a more challenging site to develop as it is transformed from its former days as the old Blyth power station site. We need to get this work underway as soon as possible and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership can help to make this happen.

“We have agreed to loan funds from the North East Investment Fund for all the preparatory work. The work will reveal what works need to happen to the site to attract business, what infrastructure is needed, and what needs to be done to get the site market ready. We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement in the Budget to extend the financial incentives for EZ sites for a further three years, which should really help in securing a long term future for this site. ”

The site is central to plans to attract strategic investment to south east Northumberland and develop its offshore industry supply chain, creating jobs and economic growth for the area.

The funding will also be used to produce design development guidance highlighting the opportunities and constraints of the site. This work is expected to take around six months to complete.

Peter McIntyre, Arch Group Managing Director, said:
“Obviously, as a former power station site it has some key infrastructure but we need to assess the degree to which a regeneration programme will need to be implemented to make the site attractive for further investment.

“The aim is to create a major deepwater facility for use for offshore industries, generating significant jobs, investment and partnerships between the Port of Blyth, Narec and the broader Northumberland supply chain.

“This is at the heart of Arch’s core strategy to enable brownfield sites for strategic investment, creating jobs and wealth for the broader Northumberland economy.”

The North East Investment Fund is primarily focused on funding for capital projects designed to accelerate local economic growth and job creation. It includes £25m of Growing Places Fund and £30m of Regional Growth Funds monies.