We acquired the former Swan Hunter site in 2009 with assistance from Government agencies to retain the site for use by the offshore energy, subsea and marine sectors.
Swans was declared an Enterprise Zone (EZ) in 2014. The EZ designation provides a simplified planning regime via the Swans Local Development Order (LDO). The LDO means that planning permission is not required for buildings that meet particular size and height criteria and are occupied by businesses in the oil and gas, offshore renewables and subsea sectors.
The Enterprise Zone covers 17 hectares and is five miles from the North Sea.
What has already happened?
After acquiring the site, the Council secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund, Homes and Communities Agency and North East Local Enterprise Partnership to assist with demolition, new roads and utilities and quay improvements.
The works included junction improvements to Hadrian Road and Buddle Street and a new, stronger bridge at Benton Way. Internal roads were also constructed along with a heavy load link road to the Oceana Business Park. Extensive demolition was carried out to provide cleared development plots across the site.
At the quay, phase one repairs to the West Quay were completed and the river berths were dredged to between 7.5m and 9.1m deep.
Part of the Swans site was sold to WD Close Engineering in 2013 who subsequently developed fabrication units and has completed work for clients such as BAE Systems, Osbit and Subsea7/GE Gas and Oil.
The completion of the deep-water dredge and the Oceana Link Road in 2015 has enabled both WD Close and SMD to use the quay and deep-water berths for load outs with the most spectacular being SMD’s delivery of mining machines for Nautilus in 2016.
The Swans Centre for Innovation (CFI) opened in 2016 and now provides five floors of office floor space plus meeting space targeting the offshore energy, subsea and marine sectors.
It is currently home to six tenants including Boskalis, Swan Hunter, Walker Subsea, Quickstart Recruitment and Trident Dynamics. Office space is available in the Swans CFI for letting and enquiries should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org
What will happen next?
In 2019 the Council put the site up for sale in order to attract a buyer to invest in the site and develop it to meet the following outcomes:
- ensuring the site was not broken up or moved to purposes that would not support the local economy;
- contributing to the skills and capabilities of the world class offshore and subsea businesses along the Tyne;
- enabling existing business and attracting new investment; and
- creating jobs and having a positive impact on the communities around Wallsend.
Following assessment of the offers Shepherd Offshore Limited was selected as the preferred purchaser and the sale was completed in December 2020. Shepherd Offshore will now work to bring forward redevelopment of the site as Swans Energy Park and attract businesses in the offshore, subsea, marine and energy sectors to locate at the site.
The sale was welcomed by the Elected Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, Mary Glindon MP and also by the Chief Executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership:
Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Norma Redfearn CBE:
“This is such fantastic news for the future of the Swans site, which I know holds a very special place in the hearts of so many in North Tyneside – myself included, having grown up nearby and having family links to the old shipyard.
“I am delighted by what we have achieved with the site in recent years and I wish the Shepherds all the best for what promises to be an exciting next chapter in the history of Swans.”
Cllr Bruce Pickard, Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside Council and Cabinet member for Regeneration:
“The Swan Hunter site is a big part of our Ambition for North Tyneside plan, which sets out how we have regenerated the borough and how we will continue to do so over the next 15 years.
“It is also a huge part of our past - and one we are very proud of. We know how much its rich history means to local people and the area as a whole and we have worked hard to preserve and secure it and make sure it wasn’t broken up or turned into a breakers’ yard.
“I am delighted that we have been able to secure its long-term future which I hope will result in new jobs and opportunities for people here in North Tyneside and further afield.”
Mary Glindon, North Tyneside MP:
“I congratulate both North Tyneside Council and Shepherd Offshore on reaching a deal that will see the former Swan Hunter site come to life as part of the modern industrial landscape of the North Bank of the Tyne. It’s great news for the people of Wallsend and the whole of North Tyneside. I look forward to working with everyone concerned to help bring the offshore and energy jobs to the site that has such a great world-renowned history.”
Helen Golightly, Chief Executive of the North East LEP:
“This is great news and marks a major milestone in efforts to attract new jobs and investment, particularly from the offshore wind sector, onto this regionally important Enterprise Zone site. The Council has made significant progress in getting the site ready for further significant investment.”
The Council’s Regeneration and Economic Development service will now work with Shepherd Offshore to support them to bring investment to Swans Energy Park and enable businesses to grow and jobs to be created.