Middlesbrough FC chairman Steve Gibson and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen spoke of having “a spring in their step” as they revealed there had already been 60 enquiries from potential investors in the South Tees Development site, which has a vision to create 20,000 Teesside jobs.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen described the site as “the single biggest development opportunity in the UK” as he launched South Tees Development Corporation’s draft Master Plan.
Both the mayor and Boro owner Gibson joined more than 250 regional business and political leaders together with members of the public to launch the Master Plan at a special event in Redcar.
Gibson, who is part of the corporation’s 16-strong board of non-executive directors, said: “You haven’t heard much from us until now as the negotiations are seriously delicate and complex.
“However, we have a spring in our step – we’re happy. There are things going on that we hope to conclude in the new year that we think will have enormous impact on the Tees Valley and its people.”
Described as “The beginning of a new era of economic development in Tees Valley”, the 25-year plan sets out the STDC’s regeneration goals for the area.
STDC is the only mayoral development corporation outside Greater London with significant powers to promote economic regeneration.
Launched recently by prime minister Theresa May, it will look to convert assets in the South Tees area into industrial opportunities for business investment.
Once fully developed the vision would see 20,000 jobs created and add an additional £1 billion per annum to the local economy.
The Master Plan consultation will tour Tees Valley with outline diagrams of how the site will be developed.
The board has already decided that:
• The site redevelopment will be dedicated to industrial related employment
• It will be divided into different zones suitable for different types of business and industrial use
• And will include a coastal community use zone which will protect the natural area that bounds the site and the sea at Redcar
The board has already received around 60 enquiries from around the world and has a number of commercial proposals to evaluate, however the priority is to consult local people about the draft plan and take their comments into consideration as the planning process progresses.
Houchen said: “There is huge optimism for the site. This is the single greatest development opportunity in the UK right now.
“The vision of the development corporation will see the area completely transformed into a hotbed of new industry with sustained economic growth and prosperity for the region.
“Covering more than 4,500 acres and home to the deepest port on the east coast, it has already attracted significant interest from investors across the globe.
“The opportunity alone stands to create 20,000 new jobs in skilled sectors with good salaries and is heavily focused on the area’s key priorities in manufacturing and advanced technologies.
“The draft Master Plan isn’t a pie-in-the-sky wish list; we’ve based it all on genuine investor interest.
“Whilst this is a 25-year vision, we are all working flat out with investors and I am confident we will be making some very significant announcements in the next year. It’s a very exciting time for our region.”
Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and vice chair of the STDC, added: “The overnight closure of SSI in October 2015 was devastating for our local communities.
“We must now look forward and ensure the site is developed to its full potential so that well-paid skilled jobs are available for local people.
“I urge residents and businesses to engage with the consultation exercise and let us know what you think to our plans. This is a huge opportunity for us all.”
A series of drop-in sessions to seek feedback from the public on the draft Master Plan will be held across the Tees Valley over the next six weeks.
People will be asked for their views on the plans, industrial development, improvements to transport links, support for employers, industrial heritage and access to possible community assets.
To find out more about the plans and to view the full draft Master Plan visit www.southteesdc.com