MORE than £3m of public money is to be spent diverting a footpath and preserving historic buildings on the dock which will become home to the new Siemens wind turbine factory in Hull.
Hull Council leader Steve Brady has signed a decision record approving spending nearly £1.6m on redirecting the path along the River Humber foreshore, which is also part of European Walking Route E8 from Kerry in Ireland to Istanbul.
Originally the council pledged £5m towards infrastructure supporting the £310m Green Port development, but has been limited in what it can do by state aid rules.
The public right of way, known as footpath 22, runs from Paragon railway station, following the riverfront to the Deep and onto Victoria Dock estate, before passing in front of Alexandra Dock and across the lockgates to reach the ferry terminals.
Contractors CR Reynolds have already started work on the first part of the diversionary route. Diverting it inland increases its length by nearly a mile and removes glorious views across the Humber, but those behind the scheme say the new path will be better connected, surfaced and lit.
Another £1.1m will be spent weather-proofing listed buildings on Alexandra Dock, including the hydraulic engine house and tower built in the 1880s to power the lockgates.
Head of regeneration Mark Jones said: “There’s several listed buildings, and all the dock walls were listed when the dock went out of use in the 1980s. Obviously we had to get English Heritage support to build Green Port. Part of that was the preservation of the remaining listed buildings as a cultural asset.”
In a major change to plans Siemens last year said it would be building a blade factory, originally destined for a site at Paull, east of Hull, alongside its wind turbine assembly and servicing facilities on the dock, to cut costs. However it should still be creating 1,000 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain.
Mr Jones said they’d had interest from various engineering companies, as well as tower manufacturers, “but nothing concrete yet.”
A report said the £3m equated to less than one percent of Siemens’s and ABP’s total expenditure plans. Council leader Steve Brady said they were happy to spend the money, adding: “It shows strong commitment to create jobs in Hull.”
It comes as new research by Centre for Cities put Hull fifth from the bottom of a list of 64 cities in the UK for economic growth, with the economy shrinking by eight per cent between 2004 and 2013.
Coun Brady said 6,800 more jobs had been created in the area between 2012 to 2014, but not at a quick enough rate to close the gap with other cities. “For every one job Siemens creates there’s another four in the supply chain. But it’s worth remembering you have to create a more mixed economy - you definitely want jobs in other areas,” he added.