Freeport status for The Humber would be a “game-changer”

Capitol Park, Goole

The Humber region is an ideal location for a new UK Freeport thanks to its superb multi-modal transport infrastructure, its first-class labour force and its plentiful supply of development land, according to leading Yorkshire developers Sterling Capitol.

Paul Beckett, head of development at Sterling Capitol, said: “The granting of Freeport status would be a game-changer for the Humber region. More specifically, it would be the final piece in the jigsaw of the regeneration of Goole.”

The Humber Ports bid, encompassing ports of Grimsby, Immingham, Hull and Goole, is being brought forward by Associated British Ports (ABP), the Humber LEP and the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.

It has been backed by the Humber Unitary Leaders Group of Hull City Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire councils.

The Government has announced it will select the winning bids early next year, with the first of the new Freeport sites to be open for business within 12 months.

Mr Beckett added: “The Humber bid has our fullest support. Sterling Capitol has invested in the region since 2003, when we first opened Capitol Park Goole by Junction 36 of the M62.

“The park, which sits within an enterprise zone, currently has outline planning consent for an employment unit of up to 550,000 sq ft with a massive presence next to the motorway.

“The Goole region is the ideal location to house a freeport – given the existing transport infrastructure, available land for the expansion of existing or development of brand new industries, as well as our expertise in ports and logistics”.

“The Humber region is also a pioneer for green energy production and clean growth opportunities, meaning a ‘green recovery’ could also be supported within a Humber Freeport.

“The bid also supports Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s intention to level up the country by investing in the north of England. The advantages and incentives a freeport provides would be a fantastic boost for the Humber region and it is worth remembering that the Prime Minister recently visited Goole to see its potential for himself.”

These incentives include: Free-trade zones, where normal import duties and tax rules don’t apply; discounts on stamp duty and business rates; research and development tax breaks; and the relaxing of local planning regulations.

Stephen Silvester, inward investment & infrastructure manager with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Goole has an unrivalled mix of multi-modal transport infrastructure (road, rail and water) and scalable strategic employment allocations with Enterprise Zone status that make it the ideal location for a Freeport.

“Add in major investments from blue chip companies such as Siemens Mobility and Croda and exciting plans for a low carbon district energy network, then Goole has everything it needs to be an exemplar business location in the post Brexit landscape”.

Paul Beckett added: “There is no doubt that Goole is perfectly positioned, both geographically and economically, to take advantage of a freeport status for the Humber region.

“We have already worked closely with East Riding of Yorkshire Council to build a link road from the M62 to the port and free up access to the town, which is now undergoing a real renaissance.

“Tech giants such as Siemens and big supermarket chains such as Tesco have taken huge chunks of space in the Capitol Park area and more companies are expected to follow suit.

“The key to the revival of Goole in the past couple of years has been its readily available and strategically located employment land first and foremost. Its geography, being situated on junction 36 of the M62, practically equidistant between Leeds and Hull, as well as its easy and quick links to Doncaster and the South via the M18, has allowed Goole to capture occupiers and labour from both West and South Yorkshire as well as East Riding itself.”

Paul Beckett believes that the local East Riding of Yorkshire Council should be praised for its efforts to stimulate the local economy – and for its support of the Humber Freeport campaign.

“The council has been the backbone to the revival of Goole. Given that Capitol Park is in an enterprise zone, the attitude from the council, government and European money has made it a location that has moved forward. They’ve been very proactive.”

The arrival of Siemens in Goole was a tremendous boost to the local economy – and proved that the town meant business. Persuading Siemens to take space in Goole was considered vital to improving the long-term employment prospects of the town.

Siemens Mobility, which specialises in transportation solutions, considered several places in the UK before choosing Goole as the location to build the next generation of tube trains for the Piccadilly Line.

The £200m factory will cover 67 acres and use track sidings that are currently used to connect a global glass factory with the rail network. When fully operational in 2023, the Siemens site will employ 700 people, with the associated supply chain employing an additional 1,700 people.

Robert Whatmuff, director of industrial and logistics at Colliers, added that in addition to Siemens other occupiers have also spotted the logistics potential of the town as a base for their operations.

“Croda’s commitment to a new 230,000 sq ft worldwide distribution centre at Goole 36, along with the £7m of investment in fit-out within the building, shows that Goole offers an excellent distribution location, too.

“Tesco saw that opportunity several years ago when they located to Capitol Park Goole. I believe the Siemens supply chain will play an important role in further development and employment in Goole and Capitol Park offers occupiers opportunities for up to 550,000 sq ft.”

The fortunes of Goole have changed considerably over the last few years and if freeport status is achieved, the town’s remarkable renaissance would be complete.

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