Plans to create a major automotive manufacturing hub have moved up a gear, with public consultation getting underway later this month.
When ‘Job 1’ – Nissan's first Bluebird – rolled off the line in July 1986, history was made. With that one car came many years of promise. The North East – perhaps unknowingly – was destined to become an automotive hotbed.
Roll the clock forward three decades to last week, when Nissan announced it will produce not only the next generation Qashqai, but its X-Trail SUV model. Now, less than a week on from the announcement, another major step forward has been taken, with consultation set to start for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), a site that could create more than 5,200 advanced manufacturing jobs.
The IAMP is a 100-hectare site that is located a stone’s throw from Nissan, and is expected to create more than 500 new jobs every year from 2018.
South Tyneside and Sunderland Councils are working in partnership to deliver the joint-development, which is expected to attract businesses in the automotive, energy, low carbon, logistics and offshore manufacturing fields.
"We believe the IAMP will grow this region's reputation as the manufacturing capital of the country," said Councillor Paul Watson, the leader of Sunderland City Council.
"Last week's Nissan announcement has brought some much-needed stability to the automotive sector, which is fantastic, and the assurance it has brought has created the right conditions for new investors to come forward.
“We know that the decision of Nissan to put its confidence into Sunderland is – in no small part – because of the skill and commitment of their workers from our city, South Tyneside and the wider region. And it is the same assets that have delivered for Nissan, that will make IAMP hugely attractive to developers looking for a place to invest – those from the automotive sector chief among them.
"We believe that, by working in unison with South Tyneside Council, we can establish the IAMP as the principal national hub for the automotive sector, and secure sustainable jobs that will drive our economy long into the future."
The IAMP land sits between Sunderland and South Tyneside local authority areas. In a speech to Parliament on Monday, Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, spoke of a commitment he had made to Nissan to ensuring ‘that more of the supply chain can locate in the UK, and in close proximity to the major manufacturing sites’.
“The IAMP has been singled out by Government as being of national significance, which points to its strategic importance. We know that this is a prime development opportunity, not only for automotive businesses but also for companies looking for a well-connected base with an abundance of space,” adds Councillor Iain Malcom, leader of South Tyneside Council.
“There is huge potential for manufacturing jobs in our region and strong interest in land for advanced manufacturing. We have only scratched the surface when it comes to the economic opportunities this sector can create for the area, and the IAMP is the key that will unlock that potential.”
Coun Malcolm added: “The designs we are now sharing begin to lay out a vision of how the IAMP could develop, and it provides an exciting glimpse into the future for South Tyneside and Sunderland. This base could become the workplace of hundreds and thousands of workers in the future, attracting huge investment into the region, and strengthening our reputation nationally and internationally as a manufacturing powerhouse.
“It has the potential to be one of the most significant economic drivers to arrive South of Tyne since Nissan opened its doors in Wearside, and we are delighted to be working with our colleagues in Sunderland to secure this hugely significant opportunity for the whole of the North East.”
A newly released map, which lays out how the 100-hectare site may look has been released ahead of the public consultation. It shows where a range of manufacturing buildings could sit; how a network of roads would connect across the site; where a bridge across the A19 would be located; and areas earmarked for green and landscaped spaces.
The consultation launch marks an important step in the development of the IAMP, set to unlock over £300million of private sector investment into the region. Community consultation on the proposed masterplan will run from November 28 to January 16 2017, during which time all members of the community are encouraged to attend roadshow events taking place across the city and submit their feedback online. A decision is expected to be made by Government as to whether planning permission is granted by mid-2018.
The IAMP is being welcomed by Nissan.
Nissan divisional vice president for European manufacturing, Kevin Fitzpatrick, said: “The relationships we enjoy with local suppliers have been critically important to Nissan’s growth in Sunderland. The IAMP has great potential to make the region’s automotive sector stronger, more agile and even better prepared for the future.”
As the IAMP is considered extremely important to both the regional and national economy, it will be subject to a special planning process known as a Development Consent Order (DCO). This means that rather than the project being considered by the councils, like most planning applications, the Government will make the final decision.
The proposed development will provide approximately 260,000m² of floor-space for businesses. The Development Consent Order will be sought by IAMP LLP, a ‘Limited Liability Partnership’ set up by Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council to progress and deliver the development.
Paul Butler, Chief Executive Officer of the North East Automotive Alliance, believes that the IAMP will provide a catalyst for major growth in the automotive sector.
He said: “The North East has developed a strong reputation for manufacturing and is recognised as a global centre of excellence for automotive manufacturing.
“I have no doubt that this announcement will provide a springboard for the future growth and expansion of the North East automotive sector, which already generated £11billion of sales for the region and employs over 30,000 people directly. IAMP will provide the necessary infrastructure, on land with immediate access to Nissan, to enable the region to maximise the growth potential of the sector.
“The Nissan announcement will provide new confidence in the sector and new suppliers will be attracted to the region. IAMP will enjoy unrivalled access to the Nissan, as well as providing almost immediate access to major trunk road, the A19, as well as easy access to the A1 to enable suppliers to serve the wider UK market and through our excellent ports the export markets.
He adds: “Put simply, the IAMP will be perfectly placed to drive the ongoing growth of the sector, increasing the area’s capacity and in turn creating more jobs, opportunities and prosperity for the whole of the region and the first stage of what potentially will become an eco system to support the automotive sector into the next century through centres that will support research and development, innovation and skills. It’s a hugely exciting development and one that could deliver the sustainable sector we all want – further good news after the fantastic announcement from Nissan last week.”
For now, it seems, the North East's automotive sector is well and truly back in the fast lane.
To find out more visit iampnortheast.com