A joint project to help create thousands of jobs and attract £300m of investment has been confirmed as ‘nationally significant’.
Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council are working in partnership to create an International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP).
The park land is to the west of the A19, north of Nissan in Sunderland and south of the A184 in South Tyneside.
To begin the planning permission process, special designation was needed from the Government.
This designation is the same as that used for other nationally significant infrastructure such as power stations.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark has now confirmed the designation.
His letter said: “The proposal would be likely to have significant economic impact, be important in driving growth in the economy, and that it would have an impact on an area wider than a single local authority area.
It went on: “The Secretary of State also considers that the substantial physical size of the proposal is relevant to his decision that this project is of national significance.”
The project is a key part of the Sunderland City Deal in Partnership with South Tyneside.
It was Mr Clark, then Cities Minister, who visited Sunderland to sign the City Deal in June last year.
Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is a very significant moment for Sunderland, for South Tyneside and the wider North East region.
“This designation is confirmation that the Secretary of State and the Government recognise how important the IAMP is and how it will be a major catalyst for future economic growth.
“As such, it requires special treatment. The impact of this project is going to be seen and felt across the whole North East region and indeed the country, as the Secretary of State has now formally acknowledged.”
The IAMP is predicted to attract around £300m of private sector investment and create more than 5,200 new jobs.
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “Greg Clark’s endorsement cements our own ambitions for the IAMP.
“We know there is huge potential for manufacturing jobs in our region and strong interest in land for advanced manufacturing.
“We are keen to move forward at pace to make our plans for the IAMP a reality so we can secure jobs and opportunities for people across the region.
“This is as well as attracting national and internationally-renowned businesses to further boost the economic growth that the North East needs.”
The development - the equivalent of 140 football pitches of new industry and business park - would house automotive, off-shore and other hi-tech businesses.
It would build on the North East region’s track record for manufacturing and exports. It is anticipated that around 150 to 200 hectares would be developed to house businesses as part of the larger 700 site.
Paul Woolston, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP), said: “The Secretary of State’s decision is an extremely welcome one.
“The North East LEP’s role is to work with our partners to develop competitive advantage within the region and, like the Secretary of State, we believe this proposal to be of national significance.
“The development will further strengthen the region’s manufacturing capabilities and we look forward to continuing our support for this development.”
Public consultation, as part of an Area Action Plan, was carried out earlier this year. The next stage of the project is moving towards obtaining further permissions and consents.