Development of former Swan Hunter shipyard takes leap forward

A number of parties are bidding to buy the former Swan Hunter shipyard amid plans to turn it into a job-creating site for the future.

The old shipyard was put up for sale by North Tyneside Council in September, 12 years after the shipbuilder’s cranes were dismantled and sold off amid huge changes to the region’s heritage industries.

Since then, investment has triggered the conversion of parts of the Wallsend shipyard into new, modern uses, including the addition of Neptune Energy park and the £1.9m Centre for Innovation.

Now a huge chunk of land – 1.4m square feet or 31.96 acres – is ripe for development, and council leaders earlier this year invited firms to put in bids for the site.

Following the closure of the deadline for sealed bids, the council has revealed it has received a number of offers.

 

It said the task to root through each bid, to see if they match with its plans to ensure a boost the local economy, is now under way and a preferred bidder will be revealed in the new year.

John Sparkes, head of regeneration and economic development at North Tyneside Council, said: “We are pleased with the level of interest we have had in the site and we will be reviewing all bids to determine how they match our ambitious plans to grow employment opportunities in the area and benefit the wider community.

“Our decision to take the site to market is the culmination of 10 years of significant infrastructure investment and the next step to ensure the site can be brought back into economic use – creating new jobs and opportunities for investment.

“Adjacent to the site is the Centre for Innovation which provides high quality office space for businesses focused on the offshore and subsea industries further supporting the regeneration of the north bank of the Tyne.

“Once the process to review the expressions of interest is complete we will be in a position to provide further detail about the future of the site.”

A document which was circulated among prospective bidders detailed how the authority is looking for offers and development proposals “for occupation by businesses in the offshore energy, subsea and marine sectors and supply chain in line with the authority’s objectives for the site and planning policy.”

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The development site, which has largely been cleared of buildings, includes an access road and two link roads, a 194m berth facility and dock, two quays, two river berths and empty former office buildings.

In moves to show how prospective tenants would have access to a pool of newly-trained skilled workers, the document highlights how the Newcastle College Energy Academy lies close by, providing training from level 2 to degree level in renewable technologies and subsea engineering.

As well as price, bids will be scored on vital criteria including job creation, and how proposals demonstrate and maximise job creation in the offshore, subsea and marine sector, as well as what measures will be put in place to ensure it has a positive impact on the communities around Wallsend.

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