A track record which is second to none

Stephen Catchpole
Stephen Catchpole

A business expert says Tees Valley’s Enterprise Zones have already secured millions of pounds of investment with more on the way.

And Stephen Catchpole, the managing director of regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited which has helped to bring firms to the area, believes there’s lots more to come as the zones gather pace.

It is two years this month since TVU submitted proposals to Government for where it would like its enterprise zone to be.

The areas set aside for small and medium sized companies alone could create 3,000 jobs across the Tees Valley by 2015.

The sites expected to attract the bigger international investors could eventually bring in 3,000 to 5,000 jobs for the town, the Hartlepool Mail has been told.

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.

Also in Hartlepool, the potential boost 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.

But Stephen Catchpole, the managing director of regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited, believes the signs of success are already appearing.

He highlighted how Omega Plastics, a plastic injection moulding company working with Unilever, Aston Martin and McLaren Mercedes) and Propipe Limited who make specialist pipeline equipment for the oil and gas industry, have moved onto the Queens Meadow Business Park in Hartlepool.

And there’s more to come. US company Air Products will build the world’s largest waste to energy gasification plant close to Seal Sands.

Mr Catchpole said: “The development taking place on Enterprise Zone sites has resulted in more than £400m of investment already and Air Products have publicly stated that they wish to build a second plant next to the existing plant which will result in a further £300m of investment.

“Most recently, Sembcorp have announced that they would like to built a waste to energy plant which would result in another £200m of investment.”

Mr Catchpole said further investment, particularly in offshore wind energy development, was being held up by the Government delaying on letting the contracts, adding: “We are still hopeful that when that happens, there will be much more interest in the offshore wind sector generally.” But he said Hartlepool already had JDR Cables and Heerema which were “big strong players”.

He said: “We are waiting for the Government to start and award the contracts and when they do, we shall see more life.

“But no one is going to put plants and machinery in without certainty of contracts. Hartlepool, though, is still a very good site. It is one of the few sites with access to deep sea through the ports.”