Zone deal could create up to 5,000 jobs for town

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HARTLEPOOL has clinched a massive share of the enterprise zone planned for the Tees Valley.

Jubilant town officials were celebrating today after three different areas of town – and two in Billingham – were approved by the Government to be part of a zone consisting of just 12 sites.

The areas set aside for small and medium sized companies alone could create 3,000 jobs across the Tees Valley by 2015 in a plan hailed by the Government as “bold and clever”.

There could be even better news on the sites expected to attract the bigger international investors. They could bring in 3,000 to 5,000 jobs for the town, the Hartlepool Mail has been told.

But officials in Hartlepool are not resting on their laurels and insist “the hard work starts now”.

Town mayor Stuart Drummond told the Hartlepool Mail: “There are no guarantees that come with this. There is a whole load of hard work.

“This will only be successful if companies come to Hartlepool.

“We already have a number of irons in the fire and zone status makes us more attractive. If we can get the big players, the knock-on effect will be extremely attractive.”

Today’s announcement is great news for the Queens Meadow, Port Estates, and Oakesway areas of Hartlepool as well as Belasis Hall and the New Energy and Tech Park in nearby Billingham as all have been included in the approved zone.

Hartlepool officials hope this is the push the town needs to become a hub for wind energy development.

Damien Wilson, the assistant director of regeneration and planning at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “If we look at the port and the kind of jobs associated with wind energy, we could be talking about 2,000 to 3,000 jobs both directly and in the supply chain.

“When you add that to the likes of JDR and Heerema and possible expansion, you could find that 3,000 to 5,000 jobs are created in a short space of time.

“It could almost re-define the core economic base of the town overnight.”

Also in Hartlepool, the potential boost for the next four years could be 10 new businesses and 140 new jobs at Queen’s Meadow by 2015; and seven new businesses and 140 new jobs at Oakesway by 2015.

Other areas selected for the zone are South West Iron Masters in Middlesbrough, Kirkleatham in the Redcar area; PD Ports at South Bank, Middlesbrough; Wilton; North Shore in Stockton; Darlington Central Park; and St Hilda’s in Middlesbrough.

Experts predict the plans will lead to 137 new businesses and 2,624 jobs being created on the sites which attract Business Rate Relief with another 29 firms and 360 jobs created on sites where Business Rate Relief funding is found through local sources.

It means 166 new businesses and nearly 3,000 jobs on the way within the next four years on those sites with no predictions yet on the jobs potential for the larger sites which attract Capital Allowance.

Details of the final zone were revealed simultaneously today by the Government and Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU).

TVU managing director Stephen Catchpole said: “This is an exciting area with a lot of opportunities. We already have a lot of world-class industry. It is how we build on that.”

The Government has already told TVU that it expects to see “real activity” on the zone by 2015 and there is plenty of incentive for firms to move before then.

Businesses locating on Queens Meadow, South West Iron Masters, Kirkleatham and Belasis Hall Technology Park before March 2015, will benefit from business rate discount worth up to

£55,000 per business for five years.

Those sites will also enjoy simplified planning regimes to help attract and support the growth and development of small and medium enterprises.

Income secured from the Government for these four sites will help to create financial incentives at Oakesway, Northshore, Darlington Central Park and St Hilda’s.

A BREAKDOWN OF THE ZONE

The zone will be split into three types of business areas.

• Government-funded Capital Allowances sites.

The bigger international firms will hopefully come to these areas which include Port Estates in Hartlepool; New Energy and Tech Park in nearby Billingham; PD Ports and South Bank Wharf in Middlesbrough; and Wilton.

• Government-funded business rate discounts sites.

They are Queens Meadow in Hartlepool; Belasis Hall Tech Park in Billingham; South West Iron Masters in Middlesbrough; and Kirkleatham.

• Tees Valley funded zone.

This consists of Oakesway in Hartlepool; North Shore in Stockton; Darlington Central Park; and St Hilda’s in Middlesbrough.