Sunderland’s Labour leader has praised the region’s role in delivering Crown Works Studios, after a visit from the PM and Chancellor to the city last week [Friday, March 15].

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, has spoken out about the role the North East’s seven local authorities have played in lending their collective support to the scheme, which will help create more than 8,000 new jobs.

Cllr Miller said it was thanks to the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) and the unity of regional leaders that trailblazer funding would be channelled into the project, which unlocks a £450m private sector investment from FulwellCain to build what will be one of Europe’s largest studio complexes.

Cllr Miller said: “We are proud as a council to have supported FulwellCain over the last few years as they have built the case for their game-changing Crown Works Studios in Sunderland. In partnership with the six other local authorities of the region, we have made a deal with national Government that has enabled us to back these plans, because we absolutely believe in their ability to deliver huge social and economic advantages to the whole of the North East. This is an exciting new chapter for Sunderland and the product of collaboration and commitment.”

Councillor Miller said the region’s leaders had worked together to leverage Government support and that collaboration had been key to the process.

“We have worked together in the region to deliver this deal for the North East that has effectively made Crown Works possible. It’s such a demonstration of the power of this region when we work together.”

Despite not being invited to last week’s visit to meet the PM and Chancellor, Cllr Miller said the city welcomed the Government visiting the city.

“We want the eyes of Government on the city and region. We welcome it. The more power, funding and attention that is focused on regions like ours, the better, as far as I am concerned.”

The studios are being delivered thanks to a deal between the North East Mayoral Combined Authority (NEMCA) and Government to bring forward a ‘trailblazer deal’. The deal, announced in the Spring Budget empowered local leaders with funding and tools to deliver local regeneration priorities. Subject to business case, NEMCA intends to use £25m of this funding to remediate the prospective Crown Works Studios site, laying the ground for development of the studio facilities. It is also planning to designate the prospective Crown Works Studios site as a ‘growth zone’, which allows local authorities to retain 100% of business rates growth for the next 25 years. This combination of capital funding and business rates retention will get the development off the ground in the short-term and ensure NEMCA and Sunderland City Council can continue to support the project in the long-term.

The plans will see a brownfield site on the banks of the River Wear transformed into an economic engine that will spur on a creative industrial revolution, generating £336m Gross Value Added (GVA) a year for the regional economy.