New job creation funds are set to establish the North of Tyne as a champion of enterprise. Dedicated support packages for rural growth and rejuvenated town centres are set to be agreed by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA).

Alongside this the Combined Authority will also kickstart its bid to create a full fibre network which will make the North of Tyne area one of the most digitally connected in the UK.

The NTCA, which is made up of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Councils, will also look to start work on the economic masterplan for reopening the Northumberland to Newcastle railway line when more than £1.7m in development funding gets the green light.

The authority has secured £20m a year for the next 30 years through its devolution deal to support and invest in the region. Over the next 30 years it has ambitious plans to create 10,000 jobs and boost the local economy by £1.1 billion.

In its March 12 meeting, the Combined Authority’s Cabinet is being recommended to approve a range of schemes in its latest round of funding awards.

  • £1,265,307 over four years for the North of Tyne Rural Business Growth Investment Fund;
  • £175,000 to create an economic masterplan for the a Northumberland to Newcastle railway line;
  • £75,000 for the Local Full Fibre Network scheme;
  • £200,000 for the North Shields masterplan and Business Case Development Study.
  • £48,965 to Northern Stage for the Raby Street Creative Hub Feasibility and Business Plan.

The Rural Business Growth Investment Fund is a long-term project to support economic growth in rural economies and the economic rebalancing of rural communities.

The programme will help drive increased productivity and business performance, encouraging more overseas trading and business innovation.

Over the course of the scheme it’s looking to support  300 businesses, create 200 full-time jobs and generate £2.8m of private sector investment from businesses supported with a capital grant.

The Northumberland to Newcastle Line aims to bring passenger rail services connecting the south east of Northumberland with North Tyneside and Newcastle.

Ultimately passengers could be transported between Ashington to central Newcastle in 35 minutes. The funding would help develop an economic masterplan for the whole route which will and identify the ‘current and future economic potential of the corridor and set out how the potential of the opportunities can be maximised’.

Meanwhile the Local Full Fibre Network plans would improve digital connectivity in the North of Tyne and help connect communities.  The funding links to one of the Combined Authority’ six key priorities –  to develop a powerful network of connections, with faster digital infrastructure to create stronger links across the north and internationally.

In North Tyneside, £200,000 is set to be agreed for work towards a detailed Masterplan and Business Case for the regeneration of North Shields town centre and Fish Quay.

The outcome of this work will be used to attract external investment and could support an application to the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

And in Newcastle almost £50,000 could be allocated for a feasibility study to explore how a former youth centre in Byker could be developed by Northern Stage and local partners to be used as a creative, multi-use space.

In addition, an opportunity has recently emerged for the North of Tyne to host a stage of the Tour of Britain 2019 Cycling event, which would travel through a significant proportion of the Combined Authority area.

This would be a high-profile event, which would be likely to draw significant visitor numbers and provide an economic boost to local businesses.

Cabinet is asked to authorise the Interim Head of Paid service, in consultation with the Interim Mayor and relevant portfolio holders, to consider an allocation of funding to support a North of Tyne stage of the 2019 Tour of Britain Cycling event, subject to the normal appraisal processes.

NTCA Interim Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE said: “We’ll be considering a diverse range of schemes, all of which would benefit communities, boost business and make areas more attractive places to live, work and visit.

“A number of these proposed funding awards are to enable detailed business planning work to be carried out which will ultimately make a stronger case for these ambitious projects.”