Legal & General-backed Hillthorn Business Park in Washington is on-track with GMI Construction Group poised to deliver the first tranche of buildings – seven of ten that will eventually stand on the site when it is fully developed – set to be completed by November.
The work is part of a two-phased plan to deliver 620,000 sq. ft of industrial and advanced manufacturing space close to Nissan and is expected to create 1,600 new jobs in Sunderland.
The development is being funded, procured, and delivered by Legal & General’s Industrial Property Investment Fund, and is already being marketed to a range of occupiers. It represents the institutional investor’s second commitment in Sunderland, with £100m currently being ploughed into Riverside Sunderland.
Designed to support the needs of industrial, advanced manufacturing, storage and distribution businesses in the area and aid economic growth, Hillthorn complements the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), which is gathering pace just a stone’s throw away, and Turbine Business Park, which is also the chosen location of a range of advanced manufacturing businesses. Collectively, the sites will position Sunderland at the heart of advanced manufacturing in the UK.
“I’m so pleased to see Hillthorn Business Park moving forward,” said Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council. “This is a strategically significant site, that is superbly positioned and will ensure that the city unlocks its potential as a hub for advanced manufacturing. It builds on the fantastic relationship we have formed with Legal & General and will allow us to create many more high quality jobs for local people, and opportunities for local businesses as we move through the construction phase of this project.”
The buildings are taking shape to the west of the 25-hectare site.
“We are delighted to have been appointed as principal contractor on a project that is designed to bring jobs and prosperity to the area by creating the necessary facilities and infrastructure. We are also committed to maximising the benefit to the local economy by using local suppliers and subcontractors whenever possible,” added Gary Oates, GMI Construction Group’s North East Operations Director.
“GMI already has a track record of delivering high quality and complex projects across the region, including the nearby Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM) and phases I and III of the adjacent distribution centres operated by logistics provider Vantec Europe.”
Hillthorn Business Park is an allocated employment site, which means that it has been earmarked for development for some time. Legal & General’s Industrial Property Investment Fund’s proposals will accelerate the transformation of the Washington site, part of which has already been designated Enterprise Zone status, identified by the Government and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in 2012 as key locations for new economic development.
The site’s status as an Enterprise Zone brought with it major investment – through funding from central government, the North East LEP and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – in new infrastructure and enabling works, which will enable the rapid delivery of the development.
The business park will sit alongside the existing Vantec operation which has been on site since 2016.