Sunderland tees up rates retention bid
The city council wants to promote expansion space at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park as a business rates retention site as the wider North East Investment Zone takes shape.
Sunderland’s cabinet will next week be asked to note the proposals around the North East Investment Zone, covering the inclusion of the IAMP strategic site (IAMSS) as an IZ tax site, and approve the inclusion of that site as an IZ BRR site.
The way would then be clear for the council to enter into an agreement with the Combined Authority establishing this position as plans are finalised for the make-up of the NEIZ.
IAMP is already a major automotive supply chain hub, with companies supplying Nissan and other manufacturers featuring heavily.
In planning terms, the way is already clear for a major expansion of IAMP, with both Sunderland and South Tyneside councils (the land straddles the border between the local authority areas) approving up to 1.8m sq ft of development in summer 2023.
Along with eight other areas of England, the North East was invited to bring forward an IZ proposition when the policy was announced by government in March 2023.
The sectoral focus of the NEIZ – clean energy & green manufacturing – is closely aligned with a key sector for Sunderland and the wider region, Sunderland said: Nissan anchors a regional automotive sector already employing close to 13,000 people.
The area of focus was announced when the NEIZ was confirmed in late November, at the same time as Nissan announced its major gigafactory investment at IAMP.
Other investment zones include the renewable energy-focused Humber, while South Yorkshire was the first to secure IZ status, majoring on aviation and advanced manufacturing.
The report compiled by officers for the cabinet said: “The combination of tax benefits for companies locating and expanding at IAMSS, the access to resources to support targeted interventions in Infrastructure, Skills and Innovation as appropriate, and the additional resources which can be secured as a result of BRR provide a significant opportunity to stimulate further business investment and economic growth within the IAMSS and the wider NEIZ.”
Each Investment Zone can include up to three tax sites of up to 494 acres each, where new investment on under-developed land will benefit from tax reliefs on: employer National Insurance contributions, business rates (with the billing authority fully compensated), stamp duty and enhanced capital allowances benefits.
The areas being advanced by the North East’s leaders are Blyth Energy Central, IAMSS and Durham’s NETPark. This is how the sub-sectors will be divided up, according to the plans:
- Offshore energy: Blyth Energy Central and the Tyne Powered Corridor
- Batteries: IAMSS and Blyth Energy Central
- Electric vehicles: IAMSS
- Associated advanced low-carbon manufacturing, materials and research: NETPark
Within the IZs, flexible cash funding of at least £70m per zone across the 10-year programme period is proposed, with additional flexible cash funding available if the full tax site allocation isn’t taken up.
All proposals must include a degree of match funding and have a primary sector focus. Investment Zones can choose to have up to two business rates retention sites, with all growth in business rates income over 25 years retained by the IZ.
The early signs are encouraging: according to property data firm Search Acumen, the IZs in South Yorkshire and Liverpool outperformed the wider market in their areas over the second half of 2023, by 5% and 10% respectively.
Sunderland’s cabinet meets on 31 January.