First phase approved for £60million 1,600-job Hillthorn Business Park development in Washington

First phase approved for £60million 1,600-job Hillthorn Business Park development in Washington

15 March 2022

Proposals for the Legal & General-backed Hillthorn Business Park in Washington were given the go-ahead at a city council planning committee meeting this week, marking a step forward in a two-phased plan to deliver 620,000 sq ft of industrial and advanced manufacturing space close to Nissan.

The business park, which is expected to create 1,600 new jobs when it is fully developed, will be funded, procured and delivered by Legal & General, before being marketed to a range of occupiers.

Designed to support the needs of industrial, advanced manufacturing, storage and distribution businesses in the area and aid economic growth, the £60million development site is expected to complement the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and Turbine Business Park.

Collectively, the sites aim to position Sunderland at the heart of advanced manufacturing in the UK.

A planning application linked to the next phase of Hillthorn Business Park was given the green light at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee on Tuesday, September 7.

This included planning permission being granted for eight detached industrial units of varying sizes on a parcel of land west of Infiniti Drive, with a range of light industrial, general industrial and storage distribution uses.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, welcomed the plans in a statement after the meeting.

He said: “We’re delighted to see plans for a site that has huge job-creating potential moving forward.

“Sunderland has a deserved reputation for excellence in advanced manufacturing and logistics, and we’re sure these spaces will quickly attract occupiers to create more and better jobs for local people.”

Hillthorn Business Park is an allocated employment site and has been earmarked for development for some time.

Part of the site was due to be occupied by a controversial gasification plant dubbed a ‘monster incinerator’ by opponents.

But plans were scrapped after public backlash and the proposals being rejected by a Sunderland City Council planning committee.

Speaking in late 2020, Sunderland City Council leader and Washington councillor Graeme Miller said: “We know residents are delighted to see this site being developed in a way that will create jobs and prosperity, and we’re pleased to be working with Legal & General to move this forward.”

Legal & General’s proposals aim to 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 – in new infrastructure and enabling works, which will enable the rapid delivery of the development.

The business park will also sit alongside the existing Vantec operation which has been on site since 2016 and if all goes to plan, Hillthorn Business Park will be fully built out by 2023.