Switching on Hillthorn

A power boost for companies coming to Hillthorn Business Park is on its way.

Sunderland City Council's Cabinet has agreed to place a £1.9m order with Northern Power Grid for an extra 5MW (mega watts) to be routed into the 25 hectare site in Washington.

It is part of the City Council's partnership with investor Legal & General that is also bringing the £100m Riverside Sunderland development and a new urban quarter to the city centre.

Hillthorn is earmarked for £60m of investment and creating space for new industrial, storage and distribution businesses.

As an allocated employment site in Sunderland's growth plans, it has Enterprise Zone status with the Government and North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). As landowner, the City Council received a £2.5m grant from the LEP through the Government's Getting Building Fund to help develop the site's infrastructure. 

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller said: "Investing in the utilities and the infrastructure is going to secure and unlock the development of this first phase of development at Hillthorn. As the landowner, we have this duty and responsibility for upgrading the site, and so placing this order for extra power means we can progress the site's development."

The new power network is for nine development plots at the site over two phases. The first phase is 322,850 sq ft (35,303m²) of commercial space and as part the A19 Low Carbon Enterprise Zone by May 2022. This will be followed by a second phase of approximately 285,800 sq ft (26,552m²) and scheduled for completion by March 2024.

The plots are the equivalent in size to around ten football pitches.

Cllr Miller added: "We're continuing to work closely with our partners in both the private and public sectors on bringing and securing new investments for our city. Hillthorn is part of this bigger picture that brings jobs, new business and helps secure new income streams for the city."

The decision on the new power network was agreed at yesterday's (Tuesday 8 December) meeting of the City Council's cabinet.