Green light set for job-creating NETPark expansion

Plans for a major expansion at NETPark in Sedgefield, which could create more than 1,250 jobs and add a £625m boost to the local economy, look set to progress.

The park, which opened in 2004, is home to more than 40 science and technology companies and 600 staff including Kromek, Filtronic, IBEX Innovations and Polyphotonix.

A hybrid application, which will go before Durham County Council next week, outlines the expansion plans for a 38-acre parcel of land to the north-west of the existing development to form phase 3a of the project.

The full application comprises 200,510 sq ft of research and development floorspace split between five small and two medium sized two-storey units located on the southern part of the site.

The units would be designed to provide a flexible approach to manufacturing, warehouse and ancillary accommodation.

The outline element of the application comprises up to 213,362 sq ft of research and development floorspace and up to 29,062 sq ft of ancillary floorspace.

It is expected that all buildings would be up to two storeys in height, with the exception of a hub building which could be up to three storeys.

The application forms part of The Durham County Council plan 2020 – 2023 which includes the ambition “to create more and better jobs” by supporting businesses emerging from lockdown, and by developing investment plans at major employment sites.

The proposed scheme is expected to generate up to 1,250 jobs, with a further 2,200 in the supply chain.

The council’s cabinet has already supported the development and agreed to invest £49.6m to finance the first phase of the expansion providing up to 270,000 sq ft of new laboratory, office, production and storage space.

A planning statement accompanying the application said: “The success of NETPark is such that expansion space is needed so that companies can reach their potential. Space at NETPark is currently at a premium, with 100 per cent of the available laboratory, office and clean room accommodation currently occupied or reserved by science, engineering and technology companies.”

It added: “The masterplan seeks to create a holistic campus environment defined by   exceptionally high- quality, distinctive and flexible buildings set in a pedestrian friendly parkland environment. The masterplan includes a range of unit sizes to meet occupier requirements, a hub building, ancillary facilities, landscaping, sustainable drainage systems and parking.”

The planning application is set to go before Durham planning committee on Tuesday 1 March with the recommendation for approval.

News source: Insider Media North East.

Indicative visualisation of a building proposed for NETPark Phase Three A

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The North East Technology Park provides a dynamic and supportive environment to accelerate the growth of ambitious, innovative, high tech companies into global markets. NETPark encourages collaborative multidisciplinary links, driving innovation, enterprise and economic prosperity.
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The proximity to the universities and the infrastructure are very important factors. Ultimately having a presence in Europe is very valuable to us and we intend to stay at NETPark for many years to come.

Dr Arnab Basu, - CEO, Kromek

Access to quality facilities was one of the main drivers for deciding to locate the business at the NETPark. We have been able to use this as a launch pad to link into support from CPI and world-class expertise from Durham University.

Steve Clements, - Managing Director, aXenic

CPI has developed a specialist offering to support SMEs looking to develop their printable electronics applications and our partnership with Business Durham has been instrumental in attracting several SMEs to locate here in the region.

Dr Jon Helliwell, - Director of Printable Electronics, CPI

We initially came because of the printable electronics centre but access to a highly skilled semi conductor workforce in the North East has been a key factor in us staying and growing here, as well as the value for money office space and the access to funding.

Ken Williamson, - COO, PragmatIC Printing

The quality of the facilities at NETPark and the attitude of staff is first class. It has a really dynamic, innovative atmosphere.

Dr Neil Loxley, - Chief executive, IBEX

It fits perfectly for us that we’re surrounded by like-minded companies at NETPark. There are a number of highly skilled people in the area who can help us grow our business. The facilities and services offered by NETPark are first class, they make office life simple and engaging.

Stuart Wilson, - CEO, Ascarii
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