£600,000 funding to attract business

Work is beginning on developing land to attract more businesses and jobs to south east Northumberland.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has agreed £600,000 of funding for preparatory remediation and design studies at East Sleekburn.

The money, from the partnership’s investment fund, has been granted to Northumberland development company Arch.

The former Blyth power station brownfield site was designated an Enterprise Zone (EZ) site in 2012 to attract significant investment from the offshore sectors, adjacent to the site earmarked for a major biomass plant whose development recently fell through.

Officials are aiming to market the land to businesses in the offshore industry to create a cluster around the neighbouring Narec site and the deepwater docking facilities at the Port of Blyth.

Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “There are ten Enterprise Zones sites in the North East LEP area and they are all at different 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 under way as soon as possible.

“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 attract business, what infrastructure is needed, and what needs to be done to get the site market ready.”

The site is central to plans to attract strategic investment and develop an offshore industry supply chain, creating jobs and economic growth.

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.”