The UK2070 Commission has visited the South Tees Development Corporation to learn about the UK’s biggest development opportunity, as it seeks to shape national and regional economic policy.
The Commission, which is chaired by Lord Kerslake, chose to take this strategic meeting outside of London, to Tees Valley, to better understand the opportunities and issues across the 4,500-acre site. In partnership with the National Infrastructure Commission, a round-table discussion with senior stakeholders such as PD Ports, focused on the powers of devolution to the regions, north-south inequalities and Freeport opportunities post Brexit.
The 30-strong group was also given a tour of the former SSI site, encompassing Teesport, showcasing the development prospects with an emphasis on its context in relation to transport and utilities infrastructure.
The purpose of the Commission is to explore the nature and depth of regional inequalities in the UK and highlight the imbalances to Government, identifying how policy can be shaped to address this. It aims to reinforce the devolution agenda of regions to maximise their potential for sustainable, inclusive growth and aims to support both regional strategies and Government’s Industrial Strategy.
John McNicholas, Engineering and Programme Director of South Tees Development Corporation, said: “It’s a real coup to have captured the UK2070’s attention and it’s superb that they’ve chosen South Tees to hold such a meeting outside of London.
“We’ve got a long-term plan to transform this site and the region over the next 20 years. It was great to highlight to the Commission the task in hand and show them our international-scale opportunities.”
“They regularly speak to many other influential people and organisations and will be well placed to positively talk up the site and wider Tees Valley.”
The Development Corporation has recently achieved a number of major milestones, including acquiring more than 1,400 acres of readily developable land from Tata Steel Europe; commencing a £1million access road scheme in South Bank; and instigating compulsory purchase proceedings for a further 870 acres of land held by SSI UK in receivership.
During the visit, the Commission also heard how the site has seen a total of £137million of Government funding, and learned that the £14million awarded in the Autumn Budget in 2018 is now being used to remediate land ready for new investors.
Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said: “Our visit to Teesside has been a valuable opportunity to meet with local leaders and hear about their ambitious plans for redevelopment.
“We look forward to continuing to work with partners in the North East to make the case for stable, long-term infrastructure investment.”
Lord Kerslake, UK2070 Commission Chair, said: “The UK2070 Commission provides an opportunity to look afresh at the large and growing economic disparities in this country. The UK2070 Commission visit will provide an opportunity to look at how this plays out in a particular place. The powerful leadership being shown locally cannot disguise the scale of the challenge. I hope that our report will give some impetus to what you are seeking to achieve”.
COO of PD Ports Jerry Hopkinson said: “We are delighted to welcome the UK2070 Commission to the Tees Valley as it seeks to shape and influence national and regional economic policy. The visit was an opportunity to highlight the significant economic opportunity here in the Tees Valley with ambitious redevelopment plans within the South Tees Development Corporation site. At Teesport we have seen more than £1billion invested, directly by the business and through third-party investors in the last ten years, to support the growth of international trade. The port will undoubtedly be a catalyst in attracting further inward investment to the former steelworks site; supporting the delivery of long-term economic growth across the region.”
Bill McElroy, Head of Industry Strategy – Programme Advisory at Turner & Townsend, said: “I am delighted to be supporting the UK2070 Commission, by chairing the debate in Redcar. This follows a similar session last November in London.”