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Tees Valley Newsletter – Summer 2022

Message from the Mayor

We are now halfway through 2022, our year of construction, and we’re seeing even more spades in the ground on our projects right across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. 

At the airport, our terminal improvements for passengers are continuing with the new Skybar now open for business and work on the viewing platform also continuing. We’re progressing development on the land and property assets with the first phase of the £200million business park and its new link road kick-starting further transformation. Our valuable businesses already based on the site are reaping the rewards too, with Draken growing to a second hangar to support extra planes it has brought to the site. 

Over at Teesworks, SeAH Wind’s huge £300million monopile facility has been given the green light and, at time of writing, construction is set to begin in just days. We’ve also secured another investor, Circular Fuels, whose £150million residual waste to renewable gas facility is the latest scheme set for the site, creating more than 250 good-quality, well-paid jobs for local people. 

Elsewhere, work is ramping up on Hartlepool and Middlesbrough station redevelopments. As well as these being necessary in their own right to give people the fast, reliable and smooth transport connections they deserve, they will also support plans for two Mayoral Development Corporations in the towns.  

We’ve seen over at Teesworks how a Mayoral Development Corporation can lead massive regeneration of brownfield land, and now we’re turning our attention to our town centres. This is more than just bricks and mortar, this will change the very feel of our region, making our streets safer, drawing together our key assets and giving us more powers to cut red tape. It’s a really exciting time and we want to hear from local people – the very people whose communities we’re working hard to improve – on these schemes. 

I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities and to see what we can learn from our neighbours as the region becomes a truly international, outward-looking region post-Brexit. The Albanian Government recently invited me to their country to talk about how we could work more closely together to boost investment in both of our areas, and share our learnings on infrastructure development. The country shares a lot of similarities with our region, with their ports and airports expanding and public-private sector partnerships in the pipeline, and everyone I met was keen to work hand-in-hand with us.  

Read on below for even more details on what we’ve achieved this quarter.  

 

Teesworks Secures New £150million Investment as SeAH Wind Gets Green Light  

Teesworks SeAH Wind Development

Teesworks is set to be home to a pioneering £150million residual waste to renewable gas facility, the latest scheme earmarked for the site after SeAH Wind Ltd’s mammoth monopile factory was granted planning approval. 

Circular Fuels Ltd will take non-recyclable residual waste from households and industry and convert it into renewable dimethyl ether (rDME), a safe, cost-effective and clean burning fuel. This renewable fuel behaves in the same way as LPG and can be stored in cylinders and used by those properties not connected to the UK’s national gas grid – some of the hardest to decarbonise. 

During construction the plant will create more than 200 jobs, with more than 50 direct skilled roles and more in the supply chain coming when it begins its operations in 2024. When fully up and running, it will have the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes of fuel per year. 

The news came as the green light was given for SeAH Wind’s giant £300m, 40-metre-tall offshore turbine base factory on the site. The giant facility – the largest of its kind in the world, at over 800 m in length – presents a range of design and construction challenges including its scale, low energy design and an accelerated construction programme.  

The scheme will see the creation of 1,500 supply chain and construction jobs when work begins in July, along with a further 750 roles when the site is fully operational.  

Teesworks, sitting at the heart of the Teesside Freeport, also welcomed another VIP this quarter. In early June, Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt Hon Alister Jack MP, visited the region to see first-hand the progress being made. 

Mayor Houchen hosted Mr Jack on his fact-finding mission to understand how development of the region’s Freeport – the UK’s biggest and first operational – can inform Scotland’s plans for its own “green Freeports”. 

New Airport Developments Take Off Alongside TUI’s First Flights 

More land developments on and around the Teesside Airport site have continued to take off, as TUI welcomed its first passengers for nine years.  

Darlington Borough Council leader Jonathan Dulston cut the ribbon to officially launch the new landside Skybar which is accessible to everyone, regardless of whether they are catching a flight or not. 

The bar has great views to give passengers and public alike the chance to see, in comfort and style, right across the runway with an adjacent at-height viewing platform due to be completed later this year. As with the Landside Café, anyone who makes a purchase in the new Skybar will receive two hours of free parking. 

Elsewhere, aviation services and technology firm Draken Europe has begun work on its new 5,000sq ft hangar on the site after plans were given the green light. 

The company currently maintains a fleet of five specially modified Dassault Falcon jets at its base and recently took delivery of its first Alca L-159E “Honey Badger” advanced combat jets as part of a new contract.  

A second state-of-the-art hangar sitting alongside its existing hangar will now be built to house the aircraft and support the critical role the firm plays in training combat pilots from the Royal Air Force, United States Air Force and other NATO member states. The move will create up to 30 new jobs, the first of which were advertised in April. 

Construction crews have also begun stripping the topsoil to create a new link road that will boost connectivity to the airport’s £200million business park. The road will stretch around 2km from a new roundabout close to Wilkinson’s Plant Centre on the A67 to the under-development business park.  

The new business park, located on 270 acres of land at the south side of the airport, is expected to create up to 4,400 jobs when fully operational, made up of 1.9million sq ft of logistics, distribution, and industrial buildings. 

As work ramps up, temporary traffic management operations will be in place for short periods of time, with the road due to be complete in spring 2023. 

The airport is improving for passengers too, with TUI, the UK’s biggest holiday firm, launching its Majorca summer service in May.  

The popular service runs every Tuesday to Palma, providing breaks to the island famed for its golden sands, waterfront villages and exciting nightlife. 

For a full list of destinations served by Teesside Airport, visit www.teessideinternational.com  

Mayor Meets Albanian Prime Minister and VIPs on Major Trade Mission  

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has met Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and other VIPs during his first trade mission to the country. 

On a trip to the country’s capital, Tirana, Mayor Houchen also held talks with Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj and Alastair King-Smith, the UK’s Ambassador to Albania on how the two regions could work more closely together to boost investment for both. 

He also gave an update on the progress to date on key projects at the Teesworks site and discussed the lessons learnt in developing Europe’s largest brownfield site and in establishing the Teesside Freeport. 

The talks will inform Tirana’s plans to undertake similar private/public sector partnerships, expand its airport and grow its ports. 

During the visit, the Mayor visited Albania’s main airport, Tirana International, and also the container terminal Port of Durrës, the country’s largest seaport, and the port of Romano, which is also seeing significant development works taking place.  

Public Urged to Have Their Say on Hartlepool and Middlesbrough Mayoral Development Corporations  

Local people are being asked to give their views on two major projects that will be key to cutting red tape, attract huge investment into Hartlepool and Middlesbrough town centres and making the streets safer. 

A six-week consultation is now under way on the plans to create two Mayoral Development Corporations for Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, presenting bold new visions that will deliver the biggest transformation of the two town centres in decades. 

The Hartlepool Development Corporation plans were first unveiled by Tees Mayor Ben Houchen and Hartlepool Borough Council Leader Shane Moore in April. It aims 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. 

A month later Mayor Houchen and Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston revealed their proposals to make the streets of Middlesbrough town centre safer and cleaner as part of plans to capitalise on the £106million of investments being made faster. The body would focus on the town centre, Middlehaven and Zetland Quarter and tie them – and major assets – together more closely. 

The schemes are the second and third of their kind in the region following the success of Teesworks – which is helping to secure billions of pounds worth of investment and delivering thousands of good-quality well paid jobs for local people, at the UK’s biggest industrial zone and Freeport. 

People can give their views on the plans by visiting  www.teesvalley-ca.gov.uk/consultations 

Middlesbrough and Hartlepool Stations on Track for Major Redevelopment

The transformation of two major railway stations has taken huge steps forward, as plans for Hartlepool station were officially submitted and preparation work began on the second phase of development at Middlesbrough station. 

Hartlepool station is the busiest single-platform station in the UK and the third-biggest station in the region which, pre-pandemic, welcomed up to 650,000 passengers per year. It hosts direct services between London and Sunderland operated by Grand Central and connects Middlesbrough, Newcastle and other key economic centres across the region on the Durham Coast rail line with Northern services. 

Pictures have now been revealed on the £12million scheme, which will see the station’s redundant second through platform brought back into use, opening up capacity and unlocking the potential for a future growth in services. New lifts and a footbridge will be installed to provide access to the platform. 

The work, supported by Network Rail, Northern Trains Limited and Hartlepool Borough Council is set to begin later this summer, with an ambitious programme for completion in time for the Tall Ships coming to the town in July 2023. 

Over in Middlesbrough, work has begun to revitalise the disused and dilapidated undercroft at the station, ahead of the installation of a new steel frame to create a modern new entrance and revamped ticket hall building. 

Following planning approval, this second phase of the scheme will see the current ticket hall stairs removed, new staircase built off the central thoroughfare, open public space at the east end of the former car park plus a new pedestrian walkway created between Zetland Road at the south of the station and the existing subway. 

The first phase of works, supported by £22.5million from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, was completed in December last year. It saw one of the station’s platforms extended by 75 metres to accommodate the new LNER Azuma direct service to London, the town’s first service to the capital in more than 30 years. 

Tees Valley to be Home of World’s First Centre for Digital Trade 

A world-first centre dedicated to accelerating the digitalisation of international trade is to be set up in the region. 

The Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation will be coordinated by the International Chamber of Commerce UK and supported by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, industry and government, driving forward the government’s ambition for the UK to become the global leader on digital trade. 

Working closely with the Teesside Freeport it will provide a focal point to bring together initiatives and expertise and enable industry to develop the latest technologies and approaches to frictionless trade and remove barriers to growth. 

The aim is to make the UK the first country in the world to establish the private sector infrastructure which will lead research and pilot and test new approaches to trade. It will bring together industry experts and thinkers to work alongside government to nurture a pipeline of opportunities to further digital trade growth. 

It is expected that digitalisation could cut trade costs by 80% and generate £25billion of SME export growth and an additional £1billion in SME trade finance, halving the country’s trade finance gap. 

 

Policy Update

Queen’s Speech 

The Queen’s Speech was delivered on 10 May 2022, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda for the new parliamentary session. Planned legislation announced in the speech includes: 

  • Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (see below) 
  • Energy Security Bill 
  • Transport Bill 
  • UK Infrastructure Bank Bill 
  • Non Domestic Rates Bill  
  • Higher Education Bill 

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill 

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was introduced to Parliament on 11 May 2022. The Bill sets out government targets for Levelling Up and plans to devolve powers to all areas in England that want them.  

UKSPF 

The government published the UK Shared Prosperity Fund prospectus in April 2022. 

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) is a central pillar of the UK Government’s ambitious 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. It will help places right across the country deliver enhanced outcomes and recognises that even the most affluent parts of the UK contain pockets of deprivation and need support.   

UKSPF forms part of a suite of complementary levelling up funding.  It must complement and not duplicate other resources e.g. Adult Education Budget, European Structural Investment Funds (remaining delivery) Levelling Up Fund, Town Deals, Future High Street Fund, Community Renewal etc. 

Tees Valley has a conditional allocation of £46.3million from April 2022 – March 2025 

Tees Valley Combined Authority is the designated Lead Authority and is required to submit an Investment Plan by 1 August 2022.  This submission will set out indicative allocations to the following priorities for the period April 2022 – March 2025.  

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

This submission will not determine all projects, activities or delivery models and TVCA will continue to work with partners in the development of the Investment Plan.