Port of Sunderland – which was bolstered by an £8.2m investment after areas of its estate were granted Enterprise Zone (EZ) status in 2017 – has embarked on an ambitious programme of enabling engineering works to deliver major improvements to its East Shore nine-acre development site, to make it shovel ready for attracting inward investment.
The municipally-owned port has appointed Esh Construction’s civil engineering division to undertake work on the East Shore phase of EZ infrastructure improvements. This work is part of a combined £8,201,697 that has been channelled through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) to make the port more attractive to potential investors and providing an added incentive to those looking to establish a long-term operation on the estate.
In addition to supporting the development of East Shore, future works will enable engineering works on the port’s Hendon Sidings site, again to make the site shovel ready for attracting inward investment.
Groundworks have started, with a substation and lighting expected to be installed within weeks.
Matthew Hunt, director at Port of Sunderland, says he is delighted to see work get underway on a part of the site he believes will quickly attract market interest and investment.
“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,” Hunt says. “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.”
The £8.2m investment is the latest in a programme of wider strategic investment across Sunderland to enable export-driven activities to take place and to build on the existing growth at Port of Sunderland.
As well as significant capital investment to rejuvenate the port, Sunderland City Council has delivered the new Wear crossing, The Northern Spire, and work is advancing on Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, a new road network that will make access to and from the port as simple as possible.
“There is a head of steam building in Sunderland right now and our port is front and centre of that,” says Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council. “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.”