Work has started on a multimillion-pound programme to improve facilities at the Port of Sunderland.
The port has embarked on a programme of improvements to its East Shore development site to make it ready for inward investment.
County Durham’s Esh Construction is working on the project as part of a £8.2m grant from the North East LEP to make the port more attractive to investors and to provide incentives to companies wanting to locate there.
In addition to supporting the development of East Shore, future works will support enabling engineering works on the Port’s Hendon Sidings site. Groundworks have started this month, with a substation and lighting expected to be installed within weeks.
Port director Matthew Hunt said: “Over the last decade or so, we have been quietly building the port’s capacity, maximising its natural assets, making strategic land acquisitions that extend the footprint of the estate, and investing in equipment that makes us a yet-more capable port, able to meet a broader range of potential market demand.
“The result is a port that is well and truly established in the market place for the provision of port infrastructure and services.
“In addition to its port location our Enterprise Zone status brings with it the added incentive of enhanced capital allowances, and the infrastructure works we have commissioned Esh Construction to undertake will ensure that – combined with these benefits – the port is an even more attractive proposition for businesses looking for the right location.”
Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller said: “Port of Sunderland is a real asset to the city. Historically, it was the economic heartbeat of Sunderland and with ongoing investment, it can once again play a pivotal role.
“There is a head of steam building in Sunderland right now and our port is front and centre of that. We are – with the LEP’s backing – creating an environment at the port that appeals to private sector investors.
“We are delighted with this latest round of investment and indeed to be working with Esh on it, having seen their shared commitment to community wealth building on the other projects they have supported us with.”
The Enterprise Zone area of the port will focus on meeting market demand for premises close to the quayside, offering a range of facilities to support its customers.
Andrew Moffat, chair of the North East LEP Investment Board, said: “Port of Sunderland is an intermodal hub that continues to reap significant benefits from investments made in the site.
“Its status as an Enterprise Zone will help create more and better jobs by providing the right environment for businesses to scale and grow.
“As well as being a strategic site for a number of existing industries in the North East, Port of Sunderland, along with Port of Tyne and Port of Blyth, provides access to significant North Sea offshore wind market opportunities, making it an attractive site for investors and businesses working in emerging sectors.”