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NETPark set to become Investment Zone ‘Growth Site’

A thriving County Durham science park is set to be named one of only two ‘Growth Sites’ in the North East, as part of a multi-million pound investment in the region.

Cllr Rowlandson (dark jacket) and Dr Gibson (light blue coat and shirt) at NETPark

The North East Technology Park (NETPark) at Sedgefield, owned and run by Durham County Council, is to become a Growth Site through the creation of a new Investment Zone for the region.

The Investment Zone, which will include two Growth Sites and two Tax Sites, is aligned to the £4.2bn North East devolution deal, with Durham County Council and the region’s other local authorities overseeing the development of the plans.

It will see the region benefit from £160m of government money over the next 10 years, unlocking hundreds of millions of pounds of investment from the private sector and creating up to 4,000 new jobs.

NETPark, currently undergoing a major £62m third phase expansion, becomes a Growth Site along with the River Tyne Corridor, while two other hubs in the region will be Tax Sites.

At Growth Sites, the council and businesses will have priority access to significant flexible funding which, it is intended, will take the form of a capital-based co-investment programme.

News of the designation for NETPark, one of the UK’s premier science parks, has been welcomed by both the council and a leading business figure on the park.

Cllr James Rowlandson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for resources, investment and assets, said: “We are delighted that a new chapter is being written in the success story that is NETPark, through its designation as one of only two Growth Sites in our region.

“It really is an exciting time for the park with the significant investment we have made allowing phase three of the site to come out of the ground.

“The funding will help existing businesses to grow and thrive, help attract new companies to locate on the newly developed phase three and provide infrastructure funding to unlock further future expansion.

“This recognises our growing reputation as a hotbed of innovation, and can only benefit our residents in terms of providing more and better jobs, and the local and regional economy by virtue of attracting businesses to both stay and invest here.

“These really are momentous times for County Durham and the wider North East as we look ahead to the creation of the new combined authority in May, and the prospect of further devolution funding for the region.”

Dr Gary Gibson founded Dyman Advanced Materials on NETPark in 2018 – the second company he has set up on the park – and has worked at the Sedgefield site in various roles for over 15 years.

Dr Gibson, whose venture specialises in the manufacture of synthetic diamonds, said: “NETPark is a great place to do business. The conditions are perfect for companies to thrive, with excellent infrastructure both on the park and wider area, strong support from Durham County Council through its business support service Business Durham, and a genuine sense of being part of a wider technology community.

“It is exciting to see the third phase taking shape close to our current facilities and we are hoping to grow with the park by expanding our presence into this new phase.

“Looking ahead it is great to hear of the promise of significant investment and jobs for the region through the Investment Zone. And the designation of NETPark as a Growth Site with the prospect of additional funding to help businesses grow is similarly very welcome.

“We’ll look forward to seeing the details in the months ahead.”

The Investment Zone was first announced as part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in November, with a focus on clean energy and green manufacturing – reflecting the region’s long-standing strengths and increasing prominence as an international hub for clean energy.

The zone will take a broad regional focus, supporting growth and ensuring that communities and businesses across the North East will have access to new employment and supply chain benefits across key sites.

Sites will benefit from a mix of tax incentives and upfront infrastructure investment, with region-wide investment in industry-led skills, innovation and research also supported through Investment Zone proposals.

The new North East Mayoral Combined Authority, which is being created through the devolution deal, will lead the development of the zone once it is formally established in May.

The proposals are expected to be given final Government approval in March with implementation from the Spring.

NETPark is already home to three national Catapults, three national innovation centres, 40 businesses including Kromek and Pragmatic, and 700 jobs, with multiple future phases of development land allocated in the County Durham Plan. The current phase of development will unlock over 230,000 sq ft of new lab and scale-up production space and create up to a further 1,250 high value jobs on site and 2,200 in wider supply chains. Infrastructure and enabling works are already underway and the first buildings are due to be completed in early 2025


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