More than half of the projects supported through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Growth Fund have reached completion, marking a major milestone for the £270m fund.

Providing funding to major capital projects in all seven local authority areas, the Local Growth Fund is helping to create jobs, boost the economy and improve the quality of life for people living and working in North East England.

A promotional film – produced by the North East LEP – has been released to celebrate the Local Growth Fund’s halfway milestone (a copy of the film can be viewed here:  

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “More than 50 individual projects have received funding through the Local Growth Fund ranging from major infrastructure projects like The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside to transformative transport schemes, including the A1058 Coast Road corridor in North Tyneside.

“Funding was awarded to projects that helped achieve the objectives set of out in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to support economic growth, improve productivity and increase the number of people employed in high quality jobs.

“All the projects make the North East a better place to live and work, and the improvements will be felt for generations to come. It’s not just about improving our economy, it’s also about improving quality of life for everyone that lives here.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP said: “We are investing in the future of communities across the Northern Powerhouse and the whole country through the Local Growth Fund. The projects already delivered by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership with their share of the fund are changing lives by building the infrastructure, skills, jobs and confidence people need to thrive.

“Our modern Industrial Strategy is backing businesses to create high-paid, highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK and I’m inspired by what has been achieved in the North East so far.

“I look forward to seeing how people across the North East continue to build on local strengths and embrace opportunities for a prosperous future with support from the Government.”

Heidi Mottram, CEO of Northumbrian Water and Vice Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “When the Local Growth Fund from central government was put into place, we already had our Strategic Economic Plan in place so we hit the ground running.

“The things we believed we needed to invest in included infrastructure and improving transport; but the most important thing was to make sure the workforce here in the North East had the skills for the more and better jobs we’re creating.”

The new video profiles many of the projects supported through the Local Growth Fund, including the creation of a new Centre for Enterprise & Innovation, Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland, Europe’s first dedicated centre for emerging technology, PROTO in Gateshead, and the creation of a new Metro/bus interchange in South Shields town centre and a new learning centre for Tyne and Wear Metro workers. It also features interviews with key people leading each project.

To receive funding through the Local Growth Fund, projects had to demonstrate they could drive innovation and improve support for businesses; support economic inclusion and help develop skills infrastructure; or enhance strategic transport sites and public transport infrastructure.

Major infrastructure projects aimed at creating more and better jobs and further strengthening the North East’s key sectors include The Biosphere at Newcastle Helix, CPI’s National Formulation Centre at NETPark in County Durham, and Vaux in Sunderland’s Central Business District.

Dr. Graeme Cruickshank, Director of Formulation at CPI, said: “The investment in creating these world-class facilities is vital in enabling the North East to retain its core strength in chemistry and formulating sciences, ensuring this expertise is available to small and large companies and academic groups across the UK.

“This support has facilitated us to create new jobs at CPI’s National Formulation Centre and National Healthcare Photonics Centre, both at NETPark, as well as enabling us to directly support the innovation efforts of partners in this region and beyond.”

John Seager, Chief Executive of Siglion, the development partnership leading the Vaux regeneration project, said: “Regeneration projects in difficult markets are all about kick starting investment activity. The LGF funding for Phase 1 at VAUX has provided the essential seeds from which we can grow the ideal environment to attract private sector investment, both financial and in jobs – it’s absolutely transformational to the local economy”

Major road improvement schemes are continuing to take place across the region thanks to investment from the Local Growth Fund. Significant transport projects including the A1056 Weetslade Corridor, A19 and the Arches junction in South Shields will improve traffic flow, provide greater accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists, and support more people to use public transport.

The Local Growth Fund has also helped support sustainable transport projects across the North East in a bid to reduce congestion and protect the environment. Projects have included cycle schemes in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside and North Tyneside, as well as the refurbishment of Central Station Metro in Newcastle.

John Fenwick, Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, said: “We have invested in new facilities for public transport users with support from the Local Growth Fund. This has included the development of a new transport interchange in South Shields and the modernisation of Central station on the Tyne and Wear Metro, in Newcastle.

“The LGF support has also enabled Nexus to invest in its workforce, with the creation of a new learning centre to meet all of our training needs. Construction of this training facility in South Shields town centre is well underway.”

Rural communities across the North East have benefitted from the Local Growth Fund with projects including East Durham College’s Houghall Campus and The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre in Northumberland National Park receiving investment to support the North East’s rural economy and thriving tourism sector.

Tony Gates, Chief Executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “The North East has a unique identity, borne from a strong sense of pride and place, which is driven by the people that live, work and visit here.

“Our rural areas, with their rich natural resources, diverse economies, vibrant communities and close urban links, bring great value to the region. The visitor economy is one of our fastest growing sectors and one with the potential to significantly boost our economy for generations to come and create new jobs.

“Through its support for The Sill, the Local Growth Fund has brought new employment opportunities and helped to secure significant public and private investment in one of the most rural parts of the region. Attracting more than 150,000 visitors per year, The Sill has supported the growth of a number of local businesses and is well on its way to bringing a further £2.5m per year to this rural part of Northumberland.”

Projects that support local communities and improve skills have also received funding from the Local Growth Fund. The new 2,500-seater Newcastle Eagles Community Arena in Elswick provides a new community venue for sports participation, vocational training, and health & wellbeing.

Paul Blake, Managing Director of Newcastle Eagles said: “The Local Growth Fund was a pivotal building block in our development, which even in our early stages has seen significant job growth, jobs safeguarded for the long term and a number of new apprenticeships launched across several sectors.

“Our partnership with Newcastle College extends the educational reach in the building even further. A month into opening we are now building local networks in the West End to cement our sporting, health and wellbeing offer too.”