One part of a multi-million-pound programme to prepare Port of Sunderland for investment is now underway.
Port of Sunderland – which was bolstered by an £8.2millon investment after areas of its estate were granted Enterprise Zone (EZ) status in 2017 – has embarked on an ambitious programme of enabling engineering works to deliver major improvements to its East Shore nine-acre development site, to make it shovel ready for attracting inward investment.
The municipally-owned port has appointed Esh Construction’s civil engineering division to undertake work on the East Shore phase of EZ infrastructure improvements, part of a combined £8,201,697 that has been channelled through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) to make the port more attractive to potential investors and providing an added incentive to those looking to establish a long-term operation on the port estate.
In addition to supporting the development of East Shore, future works will support enabling engineering works on the port’s Hendon Sidings site, again to make the site shovel ready for attracting inward investment. Groundworks have started this month, with a substation and lighting expected to be installed within weeks.
Matthew Hunt, director at Port of Sunderland, said he was delighted to see work get underway on a part of the site he believes will quickly attract market interest and investment.
He said: “Over the last decade or so, we have been quietly building the port’s capacity, maximising its natural assets, making strategic land acquisitions that extend the footprint of the estate, and investing in equipment that makes us a yet-more capable port, able to meet a broader range of potential market demand. The result is a port that is well and truly established in the market place for the provision of port infrastructure and services.
“In addition to its port location our Enterprise Zone status brings with it the added incentive of enhanced capital allowances, and the infrastructure works we have commissioned Esh Construction to undertake will ensure that – combined with these benefits – the port is an even more attractive proposition for businesses looking for the right location.”
The £8.2m investment - awarded by the North East LEP - is the latest in a programme of wider strategic investment across Sunderland to enable export-driven activities to take place and to build on the existing growth at Port of Sunderland.
As well as significant capital investment to rejuvenate the port, Sunderland City Council has delivered the new Wear crossing, The Northern Spire, and work is advancing on Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, a new road network that will make access to and from the port as simple as possible. With the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), north of Nissan, now gathering pace, Port of Sunderland is better placed than ever to make a positive contribution to the city economy.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Port of Sunderland is a real asset to the city. Historically, it was the economic heartbeat of Sunderland and with ongoing investment, it can once again play a pivotal role in the industrial strategy of this city.
“There is a head of steam building in Sunderland right now and our port is front and centre of that. We are - with the LEP’s backing - creating an environment at the port that appeals to private sector investors. We are delighted with this latest round of investment and indeed to be working with Esh on it, having seen their shared commitment to community wealth building on the other projects they have supported us with.”
The Enterprise Zone area of the port will focus on meeting market demand for premises close to the quayside, offering a range of facilities to support its customers. Once work has concluded on East Shore, Hendon Sidings – an 11-acre site - has been earmarked for development, with a programme of work to pave the way for it to attract investment too.
The North East LEP has made Port of Sunderland - and Sunderland at large - a key area of focus when considering maritime investment and job creation. Backed by the council, the city is working to support private sector investors into Sunderland, and this latest phase of the modernisation of the city’s port will help add to its portfolio of internationally significant economic infrastructure.
Andrew Moffat, chair of the North East LEP Investment Board, said: “Port of Sunderland is an intermodal hub that continues to reap significant benefits from investments made in the site. Its status as an Enterprise Zone will help create more and better jobs by providing the right environment for businesses to scale and grow.
“As well as being a strategic site for a number of existing industries in the North East, Port of Sunderland, along with Port of Tyne and Port of Blyth, provides access to significant North Sea offshore wind market opportunities, making it an attractive site for investors and businesses working in emerging sectors.
“Port of Sunderland is one of 21 Enterprise Zones across the North East LEP region. The strategically selected sites are designed to drive growth by building on local strengths and skills, and capitalising on the region’s innovation ecosystem, and natural and physical environment.”
Steve Conn, divisional director at Esh Civils, said: “The current climate has brought into sharp focus the importance of our ports and the maritime sector, and their role in rebuilding the economy in the months ahead. These enabling works will provide access to key development land and employment opportunities.
We are pleased to continue our partnership with Sunderland City Council having previously delivered infrastructure works at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and Enterprise Zone. As with all Esh schemes we will maximise the economic benefit for the city through responsible procurement of local suppliers and sub-contractors.”