A cash injection of more than £70m of Government money has been announced to overhaul the former site of SSI Steelworks on Teesside.
Plans to turn the former steelworks into a business zone housing clean energy, manufacturing and tech companies have received political backing as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak plans to visit the site today.
And ministers are keen to sell the announcement as the first piece of the puzzle in the Government’s “levelling-up” agenda.
Mr Sunak said: “This is our levelling-up agenda in action, as we back Teesside’s exciting ambitions to be a global trading centre with great jobs for world-leading industries.
“We want to unleash the potential in Teesside and across the country to make the most of the opportunities available for the future.”
Since the steelworks went into liquidation in 2015, it has been a local priority to create a new role for the 4,500-acre site to become a key driver of economic growth in the North East.
The area is one of the largest redevelopment opportunities in the country, and the South Tees Development Corporation plans to develop it into a business park, attracting companies from a range of industries and creating thousands of jobs once the area is fully developed.
In 2017 STDC admitted there was "limited funding" in place from the Government.
But the funding announced today will support work demolishing old buildings and preparing the site for the redevelopment to attract new businesses and investment. It will also help South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) secure some of the land to ensure the whole area can then be regenerated.
Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I have always said I would be the first to ask Government for more money when we needed it for the redevelopment of former Redcar steelworks site. So, after asking, I’m pleased we will be receiving the £71m to help secure the site and accelerate its preparation for private sector investment.”
He added: “It is fantastic for our region that Rishi Sunak and the Treasury have made this money a top priority and announced it in the first few weeks of the new Government. This is another significant step to help us breathe new life into an area that was devastated following the closure of the steelworks in 2015.”
The STDC will set out a strategy later in 2020 with Tees Valley’s vision to establish the area as a leading location for clean energy, low carbon and hydrogen, including industrial decarbonisation and clean growth technologies.