Millions of pounds of road improvements at Port of Sunderland are set to provide a boost to business.
Improvement works have been made to roads at the port, including remedial works to the 3km port perimeter road that includes repairs and new concrete sections and a realignment of 350m of new flexible carriageway, that will enhance connectivity within the port and particularly with its Enterprise Zone sites.
The work – which was delivered by Durham based Esh Construction - is part of a wider programme of improvements underway at Port of Sunderland, which has also seen it benefit from improved rail connectivity, with refurbishment works carried out to its rail infrastructure following reconnection with the National Rail network. Enabling works have also been completed at the port on its East Shore Enterprise Zone site to provide a development area, which is expected to attract new investors to establish a permanent base there.
Matthew Hunt, port director, said that the work would ensure the port’s multi-modal capabilities were enhanced, making it a more attractive proposition for both traditional port business and inward investment.
He said: “Port of Sunderland has committed significant investment in its estate and assets in recent years, and the work to our roads is the latest in a long line of improvements that will serve to make it a more capable location for traditional port handling services as well as a more attractive investment proposition for businesses looking to secure a long-term base here.
“The port is building a world-class reputation for its flexible approach and its capabilities, thanks to investment in three significant cranes, two of which are heavy lift cranes and can operate in tandem for specialist cargo operations – and this latest investment will ensure the estate builds on its strengths as a multi-modal hub.”
The road improvements were commissioned to cater for future traffic flows as the port continues to attract increased business. In all, £8.2m has been committed for a range of capital expenditure projects to prepare the ground for growth at Port of Sunderland, including the creation of two Enterprise Zone sites, totalling 20 acres of development land.
Local contractor, Esh Construction, was appointed in March to deliver the scheme and was due to complete within three months. However, work was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic meaning it has just been completed.
Steve Conn, Divisional Director at Esh Counstruction, said: “Esh’s work at Port of Sunderland adds to several competitive tenders we have previously won to undertake work as part of the city’s regeneration - including infrastructure works at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and Enterprise Zone – and follows figures released showcasing our £12.4m investment into Sunderland’s economy through responsible procurement of local suppliers and sub-contractors for projects we have delivered in the city.”
“These works will provide access to key development land that will ensure the port maximises its potential and gets the most out of its estate.”
As part of the contract, Esh used a largely local supply chain, reinforcing Port of Sunderland’s municipal owner’s commitment to community-wealth building.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council – which owns the port – and chair of the port board, said: “The port is a major asset and each time it benefits from investment, it pays dividends.
“A successful port can have a significant impact on Sunderland’s fortunes in the long term, and we look forward to seeing the impact of the latest programme of work. In the short term, the use of a North East contractor and the fact that wealth will be shared with a local supply chain, is fantastic and demonstrates our commitment to community wealth building – keeping the Sunderland pound close to home.”
The overall £8.2m investment, which includes the road works, was awarded by the North East LEP and 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. 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.