Tees Valley mayor and chairman of the South Tees Development Corporation Ben Houchen has welcomed the successful outcome of the Public Inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase of the former SSI steelworks, saying the decision heralds the “dawn of a new era” for the site.
Following a three-year battle waged by mayor Houchen to secure the site so that it can be redeveloped and once again provide good-quality, well-paid jobs for Teessiders, the ruling means that the 870-acres of land owned by SSI will join the land previously secured.
In February last year, a deal was struck to acquire 1,420 acres of land at the development corporation from Tata Steel Europe, an area almost the size of Gibraltar, making up more than half of all developable land within the site.
The judgement by the planning inspectorate draws a line under four years of land assembly, banks, legal fights, disagreements and false dawns.
The development corporation now has control of the overwhelming majority of the developable land at the former SSI steelworks site.
The vision for the 4,500-acre development corporation area, which includes the site of the former SSI steelworks, is for it to become a hotbed of industry for sectors including clean energy and offshore that will create 20,000 good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people and add £1billion per year into the local economy over 25 years.
Mayor Houchen said: “I am delighted that the Public Enquiry has ruled in our favour over our Compulsory Purchase of the former SSI steelworks.
“This ruling is a huge step forward for the redevelopment of the former steelworks site and represents the dawn of a new era for the site.
“Since the closure of the steelworks in 2015 the rusting steel infrastructure has been a scar on the Redcar landscape, a constant reminded to the almost 3,000 people who lost their livelihoods on that dark day.
“When I stared CPO proceedings against SSI, I said I owed it to the former steelworkers and their families to secure the site for the people of Teesside and that the land needed to be in the hands of Teessiders where it belongs.
“I am pleased that the site is indeed once again in our hands, and can form a hugely important role in building a brighter and successful future for the area.
“We can now move forward at pace with our ambitious plans to transform the former Redcar Steelworks site into a world-class centre focused on the clean energy, offshore and innovation sectors. This will create 20,000 good-quality, well-paid jobs over the next two decades for local people for generations to come.”
The successful outcome of the CPO comes after mayor Houchen struck a landmark deal with SSI in February. The deal allowed for the 870-acres of land owned by SSI, along with all other assets on the site, acquired by and transferred to the development corporation.
As part of the deal SSI agreed not fight the CPO, in effect pulling out of the CPO process. The CPO process however needed to continue so that smaller parcels of land could be brought under the control of the development corporation.
Despite the agreement reached between mayor Houchen and SSI, the CPO enquiry needed to continue because a further 112-acres of land also needed to be acquired by the development corporation.