A former steelworks site in Teesside has secured £71 million of funding in a bid to create 20,000 skilled jobs.
The Redcar site, once home to the SSI steelworks that went into liquidation in 2015, has been granted the cash to kick-off its development into a business park, where developers hope to attract clean energy, manufacturing and technology companies.
The move is a further signal that the Conservative Party is intent on focusing its attention on areas in the North where it picked up support at the election.
Boris Johnson’s Tories took the Redcar constituency from Labour last month and won a slew of seats across the North East and Yorkshire as Labour’s so-called “red wall” crumbled.
The money will be used to pay for the demolishing of old buildings and preparing the ground for the 4,500-acre area to be turned into a business park by the South Tees Development Corporation, a scheme set up by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to promote economic growth.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, who is due to visit the location on Friday, said: “This is our levelling-up agenda in action, as we back Teesside’s exciting ambitions to be a global trading centre with great jobs for world-leading industries.
“We want to unleash the potential in Teesside and across the country to make the most of the opportunities available for the future.”
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom added: “The SSI site is perfect for redevelopment, and this funding will help to get the exciting and ambitious plans from the South Tees Development Corporation off the ground – delivering as many as 20,000 skilled jobs over the next two decades.”
The Development Corporation is set to reveal its strategy in the coming months for how it will establish the area as a leading location for clean energy, low carbon and hydrogen, said a Government spokesman.
Mayor Mr Houchen said the public investment would “accelerate” the ability to target interest from businesses.
“I have always said I would be the first to ask Government for more money when we needed it for the redevelopment of the former Redcar steelworks site,” said Mr Houchen, who is also chairman of the Development Corporation.
“So, after asking, I’m pleased we will be receiving the £71 million to help secure the site and accelerate its preparation for private sector investment.
“This is another significant step to help us breathe new life into an area that was devastated following the closure of the steelworks in 2015.”