Housing, regeneration and health projects in Northumberland have all been showcased during a visit to the county by North East Euro MP Paul Brannen.
The MEP visited the Berwick Workspace, Berwick Infirmary, a council housing development at Dandsfield Square in Amble and the brand new Blyth Workspace, during a whistle-stop tour.
Finding out more about projects that have received European Funding, as well as others which will also have a significant impact on quality of life for Northumberland residents and important locations for business growth were all part of the visit.
The day was hosted by Northumberland County Council’s business chair, Councillor Scott Dickinson.
Starting out at Berwick Workspace, Paul learned about the purpose build business ‘incubator’ which has 35 individual office spaces and supports ambitious companies in achieving their aspirations for growth.
Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme, Workspace provides professional modern office and meeting space with high quality support services, all designed to provide an inspirational space that supports a culture of growth and development.
The next stop was Berwick Infirmary where Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust explained its plans to rebuild Berwick Infirmary, as part of a drive to greatly improve treatment and care of patients in the area.
The Trust is working with Northumberland County Council to develop joined up ways of working, and in June last year the council approved a £25million loan to Northumbria, which will help it to cuts its borrowing costs and focus health budgets where they are most needed – in frontline healthcare.
The new hospital will be built on the existing site and provide all the services already delivered at Berwick Infirmary – as well as the potential to expand outpatient and diagnostic services.
At Dandsfield Square in Amble the council is building one of the first new council housing developments in the county for nearly 30 years. A total of 48 new homes are due to be completed in the next few months.
Northumberland County Council has an ambitious affordable housing programme which is aimed at building or supporting the development of at least 1,000 new homes by 2017.
As well as building itself the council has an enabling role with partner registered social landlords, negotiates with private developers to provide affordable homes through S106 legal agreements and also by securing funding for offsite affordable homes through S106s.
Recent council developments are seeing 179 new homes in Blyth, these 48 in Amble, and work starting or due to start on sites in Shilbottle and Embleton which will produce a further 36 new properties.
The final stop on the visit was to the brand new Blyth Workspace building – which is currently having finishing touches added before it opens for business.
The landmark development on Blyth Quayside will offer high quality, sustainable and contemporary office space at the centre of a world leading base for energy and research.
Workspace is a highly energy efficient building with state-of-the-art facilities, professional reception, superfast broadband, free parking, electric car charging points and 24/7 security.
Because the building is in the Blyth Enterprise Zone businesses will also benefit from five years free business rates, and it is estimated that the centre could accommodate up to 120 jobs.
With a total development cost of around £7million Blyth Workspace has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund; Arch, the Northumberland Development company; The Homes and Communities Agency; and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s North East Investment Fund.
Speaking about the visits in Northumberland Paul Brannen MEP said: “It was great to see European funds in action creating jobs and growth. The facilities at Berwick and Blyth workspace are second to none and are a real asset for Northumberland. It was good to hear that they’re attracting businesses to the North East from London and elsewhere as well as growing local firms.”
Councillor Scott Dickinson, business chair of the county council said: “We were able to showcase some fantastic projects to the MEP.
“The range of visits showed the firm foundations in place to support business growth, to ensure high quality healthcare into the future, and the strenuous efforts the council is making to reduce the housing waiting list.
“I hope that the visit will help our MEP to be able to champion the great work that we are doing here in Northumberland – but has also allowed him to understand the challenges that we still have ahead, and how the European Union might help us with them.”