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First phase of multi-million-pound automotive park gets the go-ahead

An artist's impression of the IAMP looking south to the River Wear.
An artist's impression of the IAMP looking south to the River Wear.

The first phase of work on a multi-million-pound automotive park creating thousands of jobs in the North East has been given the green light.

The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) will be based close to the A19 and north of Nissan’s existing manufacturing plant, and will cost in excess of £90million.

Yesterday, the first phase of Sunderland City Council (SCC) and South Tyneside Council’s joint venture ‘IAMP ONE’ was discussed at Sunderland Civic Centre.

The hybrid application included plans for the first industrial unit on the site and outline permission for the rest of site ‘IAMP 2’ which is subject to UK Government approval.

Although the plans were embraced by SCC’s planning committee, several councillors raised concerns about its impact locally.

Coun Denny Wilson asked for planning conditions to monitor air quality/odours from industrial units and sound barriers to minimise the disruption of expected traffic rises on the A19.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring jobs, but we’re not being the victims again, with anyone coming in there and poisoning us,” he said.

A council officer said environmental conditions would monitor businesses using the site and that current levels of noise on the A19 would be recorded.

Coun Fiona Miller and Martin Haswell also called for reassurance that there would be parking facilities following disruption to residents caused by HGV parking.

Due to the site’s “national significance” and the scale and demand for works, the Secretary of State allowed initial applications to be decided at a council level.

Nissan has provided a letter of support for the plans, describing the project as an “important component in delivering immediate growth and investment”.

But Church Commissioners for England – who own land in the wider IAMP site – criticised the “piecemeal and selective approach to development”.

Coun Niall Hodson raised the issue at the committee, asking why the site had been “singled out” and how it fits into the overall scheme in terms of transport.

“It doesn’t make sense to parcel off this project, as so many of the issues it raises have implications to the larger project,” he said.

A representative from IAMP development partner Henry Boot Developments responded to the councillor at the meeting.

Director Vivienne Clements said that “legally, it’s the only site we can put forward at the present time”.

She explained that plans for the wider scheme include HGV parking within the site, and that 3,100 jobs would be created on this site alone.

Sunderland Council’s housing and regeneration head Coun Stuart Porthouse added the site was “essential” and a “step in the right direction for Sunderland”.

Following discussion, the business park plans were given the go-ahead, with 14 councillors in favour, one objection and one abstention.

IAMP is expected to create around 7,850 jobs from companies within the automotive sector who will benefit from being close to Nissan.

When completed, it is expected to attract more than £300m of investment in the region.

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporting Service