Sunderland and South Tyneside are aiming to create thousands of new hi-tech jobs.
Today, leaders of both councils tell of their hopes for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) - a scheme that will, when complete, create 7,000 jobs and transform the region’s manufacturing sector.
David Allison finds out more.
Sunderland City Council boss, Coun Graeme Miller, and South Tyneside Council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, see the IAMP - being developed near the Nissan site - as fundamental to job creation and manufacturing in the region
“It’s difficult to over emphasise what IAMP will deliver for South Tyneside and Sunderland, and the wider North East region,” says Counc Malcolm.
“We are talking about a vast number of new roles being created in successive waves. One major investment, two major investments, three major investments.
“The momentum that will come with IAMP and the economic impact of it, will be nothing short of transformational.”
Coun Malcolm, along with colleagues at South Tyneside Council, is one half of the local authority partnership driving plans for IAMP.
Together with Sunderland City Council, who last week approved planning for phase one of the development, the team has laid the foundations for what they argue will be a game-changing manufacturing park.
The IAMP is a 150-hectare area of land, north of Nissan.
Approval of phase one will see 50 hectares of that estate become the first of a two-phased plan to create one of the most significant advanced manufacturing parks in the UK.
The scheme has already received the backing of the UK Government, which has provided £42million via the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund towards infrastructure including new roads, bridges and environmental enhancements to support the development.
Councillor Graeme Miller, the newly elected leader of Sunderland City Council, believes IAMP will establish the area as an industrial powerhouse.
“IAMP will take the already successful automotive and manufacturing sectors we have in the North East to new heights,” says Coun Miller.
“Our Nissan plant is famed for its productivity and that is down to the hardworking people we have here.
“The same work ethic that powers Nissan will power the businesses that choose to locate on the IAMP and that will enhance the North East’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to engineering and advanced manufacturing.
“It’s unsurprising that - with such a strong track record in engineering – businesses are already keen to explore opening their base on IAMP, a place that will enjoy the benefits of the rich talent pool we have in the North East, along with the excellent connectivity and accessibility that comes with being based just minutes from the region’s major trunk roads, which will be further enhanced by the time the first building opens its doors on site.”
IAMP is expected to attract more than £400million in private sector investment, creating over 7,000 jobs in the process and delivering new opportunities for people in the area to secure employment.
In a letter filed as part of the planning application for phase one, submitted by IAMP development partner Henry Boot Developments Limited, the scheme is described as being ‘key to [Nissan’s] long-term operations’.
And, as a project that will deliver huge economic benefits regionally, the North East LEP is also firmly behind the programme.
“This is a huge boost for the region and we’re delighted that – with approval granted – work can very quickly begin on bringing these plans to life,” explains Helen Golightly, executive director at the LEP.
“The fact that the Government last year agreed to grant IAMP Enterprise Zone status proves just how significant a project this is.”
Education providers that are gearing up to support with the skills needs of IAMP-based businesses have also welcomed the news that phase one is approved for development.
South Tyneside and Sunderland Councils have already signed a joint-agreement with South Tyneside College, Sunderland College, and Sunderland University to ensure that IAMP has the skilled people needed to succeed once it is fully operational.
Lindsey Whiterod, Principal and chief executive of South Tyneside College, said: “IAMP will be one of the largest developments that South Tyneside has seen in a generation and the impact it will have on the lives of young people is huge.”
Sunderland College has – perhaps – made the most visible investment in manufacturing and engineering training provision, in the shape of its £29million, 141,712 sq ft City Campus, which opened its doors in September 2016.
Principal and chief executive of the college, Ellen Thinnesen, said: “Our engineering and manufacturing courses have always had a high uptake and we know that young people leave us work-ready and with the attitude required to succeed in industry.
“As one of the North East’s most pivotal sectors, and with IAMP promising to boost this further, we have invested significantly in our City Campus to create a truly state-of-the-art learning environment that will deliver talented people who have the right competencies to drive the growth of the businesses that choose to locate in the North East.”
Sunderland University, having already secured over £5million of funding to support manufacturing innovation projects, the next phase of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM) project, developed with Nissan, North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) will be a hub for innovation.
Located on the IAMP, university chiefs say the facility will represent the region’s largest investment in innovation in advanced manufacturing practices.
Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor and chief executive at Sunderland University, said: “We need to provide not only the skills we can see are needed now by our industrial partners, but also work alongside sector experts to find new, sustainable ways to improve productivity and competitiveness.”
To find out more about IAMP, visit www.iampnortheast.com.