Firm helps pave the way for new eco park | 03 April 08

LAW firm Ward Hadaway has been helping to clear the way for a new multi-million pound ‘green’ business park on Teesside.

The Newcastle-based firm has been advising Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council on funding agreements for the proposed South Tees Eco-Park near Middlesbrough.

This 53-acre former steelworks site is earmarked to become an Eco-Park that will house up to 20 businesses in the renewables and recycling sectors, employing up to 500 people.

Ward Hadaway has been working Redcar and Cleveland Council, regional development agency One NorthEast and site developer Graphite Resources on deals to secure a £3.5m package of road improvements to clear access to the proposed park.

The first of these agreements – between One NorthEast and Graphite – was concluded at the end of March.

This has secured £2.5m of funding from One NorthEast which the council will use to carry out highway upgrading work needed to open up the Eco Park site.

A second funding agreement – between Redcar and Cleveland Council and Graphite Resources - is expected to be completed next year.

This will commit Graphite into developing the Eco Park in certain timescales and to meet various criteria as a result of the council carrying out the highway improvements.

Andrea Proudlock, associate in the property department at Ward Hadaway, has been leading the firm’s team on the project.

She said: “This is an ambitious scheme which is set to be good news for both the ecology and the area’s economy.

“These funding agreements are pivotal to the Eco Park’s success and have required a lot of detailed and careful negotiation between all the parties involved.

“Hopefully with the first of these agreements now in place, work can begin in earnest on the project.”

The highways work is due to start by February of next year and is expected to be completed within three years.

Work on developing the site itself is expected to begin in 2009 in a phased development that will span several years.

Redcar and Cleveland Council is working in partnership with Renew Tees Valley Ltd and Tees Valley Regeneration on the scheme.

Redcar and Cleveland Council Leader, Councillor George Dunning, said: "Many people will remember this old steel work site as having three blast furnaces previously here and the many staff that were working at the old Cleveland Iron Works right up until the 1990s when the demise of the works was coming to a conclusion.

"What we see now with the beginning of the South Tees Eco-Park on the old South Bank site here in Redcar & Cleveland is the introduction of 20 new businesses in the recycling sector, employing up to 500 people, which can only be great news for the local economy of South Bank and Grangetown and the Tees Valley area in general."

Ed Rowley, Acting Director of Regeneration at One NorthEast, said: "The creation of the Eco-Park will not only breathe new life into a former derelict steelworks site but could create up to 500 new jobs. That’s a fantastic boost for the workforce and economy of not only the Tees Valley but the region as a whole.

"This exciting and innovative project is yet another example of the North East leading the way in the development of the renewables sector, and will strengthen our bid to attract national and international companies into the region in the future."

Chief Executive of Tees Valley Regeneration, Joe Docherty, said: "The Business Investment team at Tees Valley Regeneration has been working closely with Graphite Resources and the other partner organisations from the inception of the Eco-Park and as such we are delighted with these ongoing developments.

"This is an incredibly exciting project with enormous opportunities for new, high tech recycling industries to locate in a first class, purpose-built environment. We look forward to continuing this working relationship to promote and attract further inward investment to the Tees Valley."