Chris Dixon, youngsRPS Commercial Business Development Consultant, ponders news of recent announcements of Government investment in Ashington and if this could be the catalyst for further investment across the North East.
In the latest spring budget £16m of funding was announced for the former mining town of Ashington. Bringing together business, the public sector and community leaders to develop a ‘transformational’ investment plan and finally putting to rest the anger surrounding the failed levelling up bid and Portland Park project. The funds are intended to support the delivery of new projects to boost the town centre and enhance the day to day lives of residents of one of the most deprived areas of Northumberland.
Government investment will of course complement the new, or should we say reinstated, Northumberland Line due to open later this year with stations in Ashington, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Newsham, Seaton Delaval, Northumberland Park, and Shiremoor. The station in Ashington closed in 1964 but a new platform is now under construction. The line will provide a half hourly service between Ashington and Newcastle.
This new passenger service will improve transport links between Ashington and Newcastle and coupled with the funding for the town centre will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the local economy helping retail, leisure, and office property in the town.
Another budget announcement that piqued my interest related to the establishment of 12 investment zones, one of which will be located here in the North East. Whilst the exact position has not yet been agreed the idea is that it will be clustered around a university or research centre. With the aim of driving growth in technology, creative industries, life sciences, manufacturing, and the green sector. The exact area to be designated will be agreed with the new mayoral authority later this year.
It is envisaged that the investment zone will attract £80m of Government support over 5 years, with the incentive of tax and National Insurance relief, enhanced capital allowances and building allowances intended to stimulate business investment.
Once the zone has been identified there should be a positive effect on that area. That will help a range of existing and new property developments located in the zone. Until we know the location it is difficult to comment further.
It does seem that perhaps the government are finally making good on their promises of levelling the region up with a stronger economic footing and we shall watch this space in anticipation.
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