Freeport East has received final Government approval allowing it to move forward into the delivery phase.
The development of the Freeport, which is expected to create up to 13,500 new jobs, will be boosted by £25 million in Government funding to support infrastructure development.
Welcoming the news, Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East, said:
“This is a major milestone for Freeport East and the result of a great deal of hard work from all our partner organisations. Freeport East is a locally led initiative but has global connections and ambition.
Bringing together key stakeholders including local government, the private sector, and educational institutions we will attract new investment to create a hotbed for trade, innovation and green energy driving growth in both the regional and national economies.
We will look to partner and collaborate with all organisations interested in the economic success of the region and encourage parties to get in touch with us directly”
Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said:
“Today is a historic day for many port towns and coastal communities across East Anglia, as Freeport East takes flight.
“This Freeport is going to give local economies a massive boost, unlock a new state of the art business space and create tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs.
“We are maximising the opportunities of leaving the European Union to drive growth and throw our doors open to trade with the world.”
Freeport East covers an area within roughly 45 kilometres of the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich, stretching from Woodbridge in the north, to Stowmarket in the west and Jaywick in the south. Colchester and Ipswich are both key parts of the Freeport economic area.
Cllr Suzie Morley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, commented:
“I am delighted that we have reached such a significant milestone for Gateway 14. The opportunities to welcome businesses to the region as well as to create employment for people in and around Stowmarket and the Mid Suffolk area will provide a huge boost to the local economy.”
Sir Christopher Haworth, chair of Gateway 14 Ltd, said:
“Gateway 14 is set to become the region’s largest Business, Innovation and Logistics Park. Over the last few months, significant progress has been made with the installation of the infrastructure and the completion of The Range deal. The formal approval for Freeport East will help make the site even more attractive to a variety of businesses.”
The Freeport has three main development sites at the Port of Felixstowe, Harwich International Port and Gateway 14 near Stowmarket. Freeport East will be able to collect and deploy 100% of the business rates growth generated on these sites for the next 25 years, providing millions of pounds of financial backing to invest in regeneration, skills and innovation across the local area.
Work has already commenced on the Gateway 14 development and there are ambitious plans to develop a green energy hub in Harwich to serve sectors including offshore wind.
All the developments have an emphasis on supporting innovation, skills development and net zero as well as acting as anchors for wider economic impact.
The Universities of Essex and Suffolk as well as a range of other partners in the region have committed to working with Freeport East and its businesses to accelerate innovation across operations, products and services. They will also help unlock further investment in research and development to boost development of the area’s knowledge-based economy.