The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is in discussions with government over plans to set up business-friendly Investment Zones to create 23,000 more job opportunities in the region and 8,000 new homes.

The Combined Authority is committed to its ambitions of achieving net zero, creating good jobs and building a fair economy, and any new Investment Zones must support these ambitions, North of Tyne leaders said. Investment Zones, which will boost economic growth and house building through tax breaks and accelerated planning, are in the early stages of discussion with local authorities and all Mayoral Combined Authorities in England, including NTCA.

North of Tyne leaders said Investment Zones could create high-wage jobs, secure millions of pounds worth of investment and help rejuvenate strategic employment sites.

Mayor Jamie Driscoll in a suit and red tie

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll

The North of Tyne proposal is tightly focussed on two existing economic corridors which span all three local authority areas:

  • The Arc of Energy Innovation focuses on development sites and existing businesses where there are real opportunities to create thousands of green jobs; increase UK growth and exports; accelerate the transition to net zero; and increase energy security.
  • The Northumberland Line Economic Corridor will enable us to use the reintroduction of passenger services between Ashington and Newcastle Central Station to deliver transformational change to communities and their access to jobs.

Elected Metro Mayor for the North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll, said Investment Zones must lead to genuine growth, enable the provision of affordable housing, and protect worker’s rights.He said: “We’ve been working hard to create a greener, fairer, more prosperous region. And we’re achieving it. We’ve made it clear to Government that Investment Zones must support our work. So that’s why our proposal builds on our existing plans. Plans to help businesses grow, attract investment, and access land for new homes and commercial use. We want to take full advantage of sustainable transport systems and our growing green industries. If our proposal is successful, we’ll want to use investment zones to boost what we’re doing. We’ve already created thousands of local jobs – and we’re ready to do so much more.”

North of Tyne is engaging with ‘business sponsors’ who are ready to lead and drive investment opportunities.

Matt Beeton, CEO of the Port of Tyne, said: “The Port of Tyne wholeheartedly backs the Investment Zone applications for the development areas along the banks of the Tyne and around the Nissan plant, alongside other zones across the North East from Sunderland to Blyth. The North East Investment Zones will accelerate the journey to a decarbonised future by priming the region’s development areas and innovation assets to support substantial growth in target sectors – from offshore wind and the hydrogen economy to electric vehicle and battery manufacturing capacity – and serving the demands of the UK’s energy security and automotive transition.

“The Investment Zones will act as a catalyst for businesses along the Tyne, the automotive cluster around the Nissan plant and the region’s innovation assets and academic institutions, allowing them to generate major supply chain growth over the coming decade and ensuring that the content, skills and employment are captured here in the UK. We firmly believe that IZ status will shift the dial on business investment decisions and will drive more inward investment in the years to come.”

James Young, Chief Strategy and Compliance Officer, JDR Cable Systems Ltd said:  “Investment Zone status will assist JDR Cables Systems to continue to build on our investments at Northumberland Energy Park and the East Sleekburn site. Existing developments and future phases would offer the potential for new product lines and more production capability to assist the UK in securing its energy supply from low carbon energy sources in the decades to come.”

The North of Tyne’s strong partnerships put it in an excellent position to start delivery once an announcement is made, North of Tyne Chief Executive Henry Kippin said.He said an investment zone could ‘bring millions of pounds’ worth of investment to the North of Tyne and create thousands of new jobs.

All combined authorities and upper tier local authorities in England can bid to designate land as investment zone. Dozens of local authorities are expected to submit expressions of interest by Friday October 14 deadline, having had just two weeks’ notice. If there is a large number of high-quality expressions of interest, the government has now said it will look to phase in the new zones. This will start with those bids that appear most ready to deliver and have demonstrated that they will have the greatest economic impact. Investment zones have many elements in common with freeports and enterprise zones. Key relevant characteristics include:

  •              100% business rates relief for newly occupied business premises for 10 years
  •              100% council retention of rates growth for 25 years.
  •              100% first year enhanced capital allowances.
  •              Enhanced structures and buildings allowance.
  •              Employer national insurance contribution relief on new employees paid up to £50,000 per annum.
  •              Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) relief ‘for land and buildings bought for use or development for commercial purposes, and for purchases of land or buildings for residential developers.
  •              Possible grant funding.
  •              Simplified town planning requirements.