A GLOBAL train manufacturer’s County Durham base has won regional recognition for boosting employment and regeneration in the area.
The Hitachi Rail Europe plant at the Merchant Place site at Newton Aycliffe was last night named North-East Project of the Year at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards.
It was one of 45 of the region’s property schemes to battle it out for the honour which celebrates overall outstanding best practice and an exemplary commitment to adding value to the local area.
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, who is a strong supporter of HRE in the town, said: “I’m delighted. Hitachi is a great aspect of the local area, providing 1,000 jobs and as a sponsor of the University Technical College which is going to give young people a future in engineering.
“I want to see them go from strength to strength.”
The project – delivered by Merchant Place Developments, Shepherd Construction and Ryder Architecture – aimed to create 700 jobs, but this has been surpassed with more than 1,200 directly employed by HRE, and a further 8,000 further jobs created within the supply chain.
And not only does the facility build and deliver a new generation of high speed passenger trains, it also provides an import and export facility and has helped return train manufacturing back to the North-East.
Ahead of being crowned overall winner at the ceremony at the Marriott Hotel, Gosforth Park, Newcastle, HRE also secured the regeneration category title.
Out of the eight individual categories, HRE was the only business to be recognised south of the Tyne.
Chairman of the judging panel for North-East awards, Hanro Group managing director Adam Serfontein said: “Hitachi had shortlisted 42 sites across the UK to house the proposed manufacturing site.
“The fact they chose to build it in Newton Aycliffe is testament to the benefits of the site including its excellent connectivity, and the experience of our region’s property and construction professionals along with the capabilities of the wider North-East labour market.
“This project has not only brought much needed employment opportunities to the area, it’s also acted as a catalyst for further regeneration in the area.
“Most recently, the University Technical College (UTC) was established by Sunderland University to support the HRE facility.
“This has created an additional 600 opportunities and jobs for young apprentices in the North East which will help to address the skills shortage of the region.”
Category winners will go on to compete at the RICS Awards Grand Final on November 2, in London, for the chance to be crowned overall UK winner.