Advance Northumberland – Managing Director
A new company will launch this month tasked with helping to drive economic development and prosperity across Northumberland.
Owned by the county council, Advance Northumberland will turn ambitious regeneration plans into reality and play a critical role in delivering a step change in the local economy.
Whoever leads the new organisation will be the kind of person who has the commercial skills to deliver success while understanding the public sector values that run to the heart of local government.
Advance Northumberland is the successor to Arch, the council’s development company which has successfully delivered a wide range of projects in recent years.
The goal is for the new company to bring an even sharper focus to attracting investment into the county while ensuring future regeneration initiatives are backed by robust governance.
Advance Northumberland will take over a portfolio of exciting developments covering everything from hotel and retail developments to the transformation of former industrial sites.
They include East Sleekburn Enterprise Zone, the 19ha former site of the Blyth A and B Power Stations which is set to become a prime quayside location for the energy sector.
In nearby Bedlington a multi-million pound redevelopment will breath new life into the town centre and create 200 jobs in the process.
And at Ashington, the town centre is being expanded through the Portland Park scheme that will include a new cinema, leisure and restaurant development.
Advance Northumberland will also help to create a vibrant rural growth network across towns in the rural parts of the county including Hexham, Ponteland, Alnwick and Berwick.
In the south of the county key growth projects include developing investment zones in places such as Ashington, Cramlington and Morpeth.
One of Advance Northumberland’s key challenges will be to identify new opportunities for investment and work with partners to bring schemes forward and attract employers into the area. As the council puts it, the company will have ‘a clear remit to improve prosperity, quality of life and increase business activity throughout the communities of Northumberland’.
The launch of Advance Northumberland comes at an opportune time with the council having this year published a revised corporate plan that includes a pledge to prioritise economic growth, affordable housing and community regeneration. Much progress has also been made during 2018 towards the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, of which Northumberland CC is a partner together with neighbouring local authorities in England and Scotland.
The council’s new draft local plan sets out proposals to create 15,000 jobs by 2036 along with greater choice in the housing market and new infrastructure to ensure communities are supported.
Some 17,700 homes are proposed with a minimum of 20% of being affordable and there will be an emphasis on ensuring older people and vulnerable adults are catered for, for example through the development of ‘extra care’ accommodation.
Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate services, believes the launch of Advance Northumberland is ‘a landmark moment for the future prosperity of the county’. He explains: ‘We’re taking everything that was good about Arch while ensuring all new governance and performance management arrangements are in place, and reviewed on a regular basis. ‘This new company will be building on what is already a very successful county, continuing to work closely with a range of stakeholders and partners, delivering positive physical and economic development. ‘As the only arm’s-length regeneration company in the north of the Tyne area with a broad skill base, we’re confident Advance Northumberland has a bright and positive future, and will play a key role in the wider regeneration of the region.’
Whoever becomes the company’s first managing director will inherit a talented team at its Ashington base with Arch’s workforce being transferred over to the new organisation.
Northumberland CC’s chief executive, Daljit Lally, says that while Advance Northumberland’s work will be closely aligned to the council’s economic strategy and will collaborate with its regeneration team, the company is autonomous and will have the freedom it needs to operate effectively.
‘We’re looking for someone who can bring strong leadership to the new Advance Northumberland team. The company will be fleet of foot, it will be commercial and make its own decisions. It’s about getting inward investment for the county.’
The council is therefore casting the net far and wide to find candidates and will consider people from a range of backgrounds to lead the company, she says.
‘They will be responsible for restructuring the team and taking a new approach. This is a fresh start and a new beginning for the council’s development company.
We’re looking for someone with commercial experience who also understands the importance of public sector values and governance but isn’t constrained by that.’