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Tees Valley Newsletter – Autumn 2022

Message from the Mayor

While people from across the region were jetting off to Alicante, Corfu, Majorca and more as part of Teesside Airport’s biggest holiday schedule in almost a decade, we were hard at work in July, August and September driving forward our year of construction.

One of the biggest events so far this year was the ground-breaking of SeAH Wind’s £400million offshore wind monopile manufacturing facility at Teesworks. I had the pleasure of welcoming representatives from the company including the President & CEO Joosung Lee, as well as then Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to the site to mark the momentous occasion. The factory is continuing to take shape, with the firm working with our brilliant local businesses on its development and construction, and is already recruiting local expertise in good-quality, well-paid roles for when the site is up and running.

Though we’ve only just broken ground, the orders are already rolling in, with SeAH having secured their first contract to supply monopiles for the Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm. This is the biggest contract of its type in the UK, for the globe’s largest offshore wind farm coming from what will be the world’s biggest monopile facility based in the UK’s largest Freeport.

Another major announcement came just a couple of weeks ago – that our region is at the top of the queue to play host to the Government’s new Investment Zones. Teesside Airport and the Hartlepool and Middlesbrough Development Corporations have all been earmarked as locations for these game-changing zones, which will create high-wage jobs, bring millions of pounds of investment and breathe new life into our towns.

They’ll do this by giving businesses tax incentives to move here and cut red tape holding back redevelopment, while allowing business rates to be reinvested to turbocharge investment. We’re already seeing the benefits of the Teesside Freeport as, along with the Freeport attracting projects like SeAH Wind, we recently welcomed a steel consignment that marked the first customs movement into a Freeport. Yet another in a long, long line of firsts for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

At the airport, our investment is helping unlock new opportunities on its site, such as its cargo handling facility. Shaking up the way things have been done and realising its potential will help the airport stand on its own two feet and ultimately will let us give people the flights they are crying out for. Private sector expansion is also ramping up, with Willis’s £25million investment in a new maintenance hangar set to create more jobs and possibilities.

On top of that, there’s been a lot of movement at stations the length and breadth of the region as we begin down to the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which you can read more on below.

Tees Valley Sites In Running for Investment Zone Status

Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng has announced that sites across the Tees Valley are now in the running to become some of the UK’s first new Investment Zones.

Investment Zones are tasked with turbocharging development, job creation and investment by reducing bureaucracy, simplifying planning processes and offering tax incentives to businesses.

Hartlepool and Middlesbrough’s Mayoral Development Corporation areas, alongside Teesside International Airport, are all possible first locations for the new zones, with the Airport already receiving customs benefits as part of the Teesside Freeport.

Plans for Mayoral Development Corporations in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough previously won backing by the public this summer and secured £20million to help them get off the ground after the five local authority leaders backed proposals for the towns. The cash will kickstart plans to redevelop the centres and their infrastructure, building on existing assets to bring more jobs and investment into the towns.

Designs for Hartlepool aim to reshape the town to make it a more attractive place to live and visit, support small businesses and deliver a master plan to maximise future funding. In Middlesbrough, proposals focused on the town centre, Middlehaven and Zetland Quarter would make the streets safer and cleaner and tie them – and major assets – together more closely.

If designated Investment Zones, these areas could see changes to capital allowance rules and Employers National Insurance contributions that encourage local, national and international private sector investment, as well as enjoying simplified planning processes.

Mayor Houchen will write to the Secretary of State to formally designate the areas as Development Corporations this autumn.

Ground Broken on £400million Offshore Wind Facility As Teesworks Demolitions Continue

Construction is now under way on SeAH Wind Ltd’s new £400million offshore wind facility on Teesside, set to become the biggest of its kind in the world and create 750 direct jobs.

SeAH Wind Ltd’s 1.13million sq ft facility will produce bases for offshore wind turbines and will be based at Redcar’s Teesworks, the UK’s biggest industrial zone. It is the first scheme driven by private sector investment to begin construction at any UK Freeport.

When fully operational, the scheme will create 750 jobs, with a further 1,500 indirect jobs during construction and in the supply chain. The facility is expected to produce between 100 and 150 monopiles per year which will be transported directly from the factory to Teesworks’ under-construction South Bank Quay.

To help the thousands of construction workers due on to the site for this and other projects such as Net Zero Teesside, plans have officially been submitted for the site’s park-and-ride car park. The 35-acre site, located adjacent to the former SSI site’s Steel House, will have parking for more than 1,500 vehicles.

The car park will be used by workers as development ramps up on the site’s major projects, with Net Zero Teesside Power creating up to 5,500 jobs during its construction and SeAH Wind’s offshore wind monopile facility supporting 1,500 more during its build and in the supply chain.

With SeAH Wind and NZT’s development – set to create up to 5,500 jobs during construction  –  Teesworks will become one of the biggest construction sites in the UK. The new scheme will operate shuttlebuses from the car park to the projects, keeping congestion to a minimum on-site and the wider road network, while ensuring the workers are safe.

The plans will be considered by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and, if approved, construction is due to begin in early 2023.

As demolition work continues to pave the way for these investments, the Sinter Plant that formed part of the former steelworks site has now been entirely demolished in a second controlled explosion.

Around 8,500 tonnes of steel were brought down in the levelling, which included the remaining Screenhouse and strand parts of the facility – accounting for around 60% of the overall structure in its entirety. Only the nearby waste gas stack and two supporting structures now remain in the area.

The initial phase of demolition was carried out on 16 June, bringing down the Bunker Bay and first part of the Screenhouse. Further demolition work is due to take place in the coming months, with all major structures on course to be brought down by the end of 2022.

First UK Freeport Activity As Steel Consignment Arrives In Teesside

A shipment of steel has now arrived at the Teesside Freeport, marking the first activity of a Freeport anywhere in the UK.

Around 100 tonnes of steel were delivered to the South Bank area of Teesworks, which has been designated as a customs zone as part of the region’s Freeport – the biggest and first operational.

Freeport partners worked with local shipping and trading company Blackwood Biofuels & Logistics to deliver the cargo. The containers arrived through PD Teesport with local logistics firm AV Dawson, which also operates the Port of Middlesbrough, providing transport and manning while British Steel contributed plant and support vehicles to handle the shipment.

The first UK Customs Site Operator, Casper Shipping Ltd, received the cargo into the site, which was bound for local manufacturing companies.

The 4,500-acre Teesside Freeport covers sites across the entire Tees Valley including Teesworks, Teesside International Airport, PD Teesport, Wilton International, Port of Middlesbrough, the Port of Hartlepool, Able Seaton Port and LV Shipping.

The sites can offer businesses tax and customs incentives including reducing red tape or providing relief from duties and import taxes. The Freeport is expected to create 18,000 jobs and drive billions into the local economy in its first five years.

Airport’s Cargo Handling Facility Opens

Teesside International Airport has now opened its new £2.5million state-of-the-art cargo handling facility.

The purpose-built 21,000sq ft hangar provides security screening technology, as well as handling, freight-forwarding, customs clearage and storage. The facility can also be used for specialised charter flights for both air and road freight.

As part of the development, the airport now has secured Regulated Agent status from the Civil Aviation Authority, allowing it to handle secure cargo at its site.

The fully accredited facility is already creating jobs, recently appointing a Head of Cargo with 25 years of airport experience alongside security staff. When fully up and running, it is expected to create up to 30 good-quality jobs.

The investment comes as Teesside Airport turns its focus to its land and property assets, including its £200million Southside Business Park development, to diversify its revenue streams and further secure the airport’s financial future.

It followed news that global aviation company, Willis Lease Finance Corporation and its subsidiary Willis Aviation Services Limited has committed to an investment of up to £25million on the site to create a new aircraft maintenance facility and a state-of-the-art Jet Centre.

WLFC has taken over the operations of the airport’s existing Jet Centre, now known as Jet Centre by Willis, and is planning to build maintenance hangars on 13 acres of land previously earmarked for 350 homes, before the airport was brought back into public control. The land also forms part of the Teesside Freeport, the UK’s largest and first operational Freeport.

A planning application has now been submitted for the new aircraft maintenance facility, with the move set to create a significant number of jobs for local workers.

Work Steaming Ahead For Region’s Stations

Work is continuing to redevelop some of the region’s busiest stations, with huge progress being made on four in the past three months.

Hartlepool station’s disused platform 3 has been demolished and piling for a new platform has now begun, signalling the first phase of its multimillion-pound redevelopment. As part of the works, the existing platform 2 will also be extended by 20 metres to house the new footbridge and lift for improved access.

The £12million station upgrade, supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, Network Rail, Northern Trains Limited, Grand Central and Hartlepool Borough Council, is set to begin later this summer so the new station is ready for the Tall Ships coming to the town in July 2023.

More than 20 tonnes of steelwork has been demolished as part of the work on the internal structure of Middlesbrough station’s undercroft.

Around 80% of demolition is now complete on the £34million scheme – supported by £22.5million from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. This phase of improvements will see a new steel frame installed and the regeneration of the redundant undercroft to create a new pedestrian walkway between Zetland Road at the south of the station and the existing subway, a new access to the subway built from the station waiting area and new public space created in front of the station building.

In Darlington, demolition on the first buildings alongside Darlington railway station is under way, paving the way for its £100million-plus redevelopment. A “soft strip” of properties to the east of the station to clear non-structural elements was undertaken ahead of heavy demolition work to pave the way for construction later this year.

As part of the transformation, the space currently occupied by the properties to the east of the station is earmarked for an expansion of the station, with the old and new sites linked by a bridge joining the historic train shed with the modern facility. The redevelopment includes a multi-storey car park, transport interchange and gateway entrance connected to Central Park. New platforms will accommodate current and future services to ensure the town and wider Tees Valley has excellent transport links.

The final planning application for a new access road and Eaglescliffe station’s new car park at the Durham Lane Industrial Park have also been given the green light.

The car park forms part of a long-overdue redevelopment of the station, being led by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority alongside Network Rail, station operator Northern and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

The upgrade will see a new footbridge built to provide access to and from the western car park. The car park will have up to 100 spaces and is being delivered by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

The scheme is being backed by £8.5million of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, with further funding and support from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Network Rail. Work has begun on Durham Lane and Cleasby Way, which will provide road access to the new western car park.

Finally, disabled access to Billingham station has received a boost, with work under way to install step-free access.

The station’s existing footbridge is approaching the end of its life and it is now being replaced with a new one served by lifts to make is step-free and suitable for wheelchair users and other passengers with restricted mobility. A second phase of work will involve car park and access route improvements to make the station better for all of the station’s users.

The £3.59million project is being backed by £1million of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. Work on the station is due to be complete in the spring.

Countdown Begins For 2025 Stockton and Darlington Railway Celebrations

The official countdown to the 2025 Stockton & Darlington Railway bicentennial celebrations has begun, as the new brand was unveiled for the anniversary to mark three years to go.

The design will be familiar to the public and rail fans alike, representing the original steam engine, the 26-mile rail line between Witton Park to Stockton and a historic two-hole sleeper stone. It will be used to promote the festivities taking place for the bicentenary.

Opened on 27 September 1825, the S&DR’s combination of steam locomotives with a mainline and branches open to the public and carrying a wide range of goods and passengers made it unique. The S&DR’s vision of an ever-expanding network and its influence in inspiring engineers from across the UK, Europe and the USA, transformed society, trade and transport across the globe.

At the heart of the celebrations are plans for a recreation of the inaugural journey from Witton Park via Shildon and Darlington to Stockton using the replica Locomotion No.1. This will lead to the launch of a permanent visitor attraction linking museums and historical sites across the line as well as a number of other commemorative activities.

It is hoped the activity will also trigger dozens of mini-carnivals, parades and celebrations across communities right along the route, and a programme of outdoor theatre, visual arts and events will also be produced.

Policy Update

UK Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is a central pillar of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda and a significant component of its support for places across the UK. All areas of the UK receive an allocation from the Fund via a funding formula rather than a competition. The Tees Valley conditional allocation is £46.3m over 3 years (2022 – 2025).

As the designated Lead Authority, TVCA submitted the Tees Valley UKSPF Investment Plan to Government on 29th July 2022.  The submission set out priorities for the funding period April 2022 – March 2025, covering:

  • Communities & Place
  • Supporting Local Business
  • People & Skills

Further details can be found on our website.

National Growth Plan – Tees Valley in the running to pilot new Investment Zones

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng MP outlined the Government’s plans for economic growth in a Fiscal Event on September 23rd.

These plans included the announcement that Teesside International Airport, along with parts of Middlesbrough and Hartlepool are under consideration as pilot locations for the Government’s new Investment Zones.

Other announcements in the Plan included:

  • The basic rate of Income Tax will be cut to 19p next year. The top rate of Income Tax – 45% of earnings over £150,000 – will be abolished
  • Next year’s Corporation Tax Rise will be cancelled. It will remain at 19%
  • The Annual Investment Allowance will not be cut as planned – remaining at £1m rather than falling to £200,000
  • VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors is to be introduced
  • April’s rise in National Insurance Contributions will be reversed from November 6th
  • Planned increases in duty rates for beer, cider, wine and spirits will be cancelled. There will also be extended draught relief to cover smaller kegs targeted at smaller breweries

More support will be offered to workers over 50 to keep them in the workforce.