Logo stripe
Darlington Business Summit - what's happened and what's next?

Darlington Business Summit - what's happened and what's next?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

An action planning event is being held on Monday 18th July, 8.30am until 11am at Teesside University, the Forge, Darlington Campus.

The Council and the Tees Valley LEP (now part of the Tees Valley Combined Authority) have ambitious plans to create 25,000 net jobs in the region over the next 10 years. Darlington has exciting opportunities in key growth sectors of Biologics, Business Services, Sub Sea, Advanced Engineering and Logistics.

As a result of these ambitions an Economic Strategy for Darlington was developed in 2012 by Darlington Partnership and the Council through consultation with local businesses, business support and trade agencies, education providers, investors and local entrepreneurs. The Economic Strategy focuses on the issues and actions that businesses have said are important to the development of Darlington’s local economy through to 2026.  You will also hear about the wider economic strategy for the Tees Valley and the emerging opportunities that devolution deal will bring to Tees Valley now that we have agreed to set up a Mayoral led Combined Authority for the Tees Valley.

This event will highlight what we have achieved during the past four years and how we plan to move forward. It will update you on progress and new developments in the borough; but we are seeking your input and involvement in the delivery of the strategy. The event will also provide an opportunity to hear about and contribute on Darlington’s local housing plan which is currently being established.

We want as many business people to attend as possible. There will be opportunities to meet potential new customers, to network and most importantly delegates will have the chance to discuss and put forward views and ideas on ways to further develop the local area enabling the town to continue to grow and prosper.

The event will be held on Monday 18th July, 8:30am until 11am, at Teesside University –Darlington Campus, Vicarage Road, Darlington, DL1 1JW. Registration/refreshments from 8:30 am and summing up the session at around 11 am.

Note places for this event are limited to 100 attendees.


08:30 - 09:00      Registration/Refreshments

09:00 - 09:10      “Welcome and Introduction” - Cllr.Bill Dixon

09:10 - 09:30      Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan refresh

                            “What has been achieved and what are the revised priorities?”

09:30 - 09:50      Devolution and Combined Authority - Ada Burns

9:50 - 10:10         Darlington Economic Strategy Review

                             “What has been achieved and what’s next?”

10:10 - 10:30         Darlington Local Plan Update

(Breakout groups)

10:30 – 10:45       What will take Darlington to the next level?

10:45 – 10:55       Feedback from the groups

10:55 - 11:00        Wrap up session and thanks - Cllr.Chris McEwan - Economy Portfolio holder

to register your interest please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/darlington-business-summit-tickets-25539889497


Darlington's subsea sector in bouyant form following contract successes

Darlington's subsea sector in bouyant form following contract successes

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Darlington based Subsea Innovation and DeepOcean continue to win new contracts through innovation and investment.

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been and continues to be a very tough time for everyone in the oil and gas industry, not just in the UK, but across the globe.  But two of Darlington's major subsea players are turning the tide with new orders and contracts.

Subsea Innovation is supplying energy projects in Azerbaijan and Qatar.

The business will make 33 J-Tube plugs for BP’s Shah Deniz gas project, which will stop pipes attached to rigs decaying. It is also testing clamps, some of which are the largest in the world at 38 inches in diameter, ahead of delivery to operator RasGas later this year.

The company previously designed and made pipeline connectors for RasGas, which bosses say will help it continue operations, including a field capable of extracting 37 million tonnes of gas every year.

Subsea Innovation is also carrying out greater maintenance work on launch and recovery systems (LARS), which deploy underwater remotely operated vehicles that lay power cables, to cover companies’ reduced spending on new equipment, brought about by the sunken oil price.

The firm has just completed two LARS refurbishments, has one in its workshop and expects another two to follow shortly.  Martin Moon, managing director, said the business, which makes products to fit clients’ unique briefs, said it was operating well against a difficult backdrop of oil at $40 a barrel, confirming it is pushing to strengthen its order book for when the situation eases.  He said: “There are green shoots of recovery in terms of activity and green shoots with the oil price, but it is going to be a difficult 12 months.  “We have to come up with new products for the market; it is all about diversification and innovation and new ways of doing things.  “We are doing a lot of bidding, probably more than we have ever done, which will position us for when orders are placed.”

DeepOcean, who have recently won new contracts worth £200m, said some are a direct result of their long-term charter of the Maersk Connector, an advanced cable installation vessel, which represents an investment of approximately £100 million.  Owned by Maersk, the vessel will be used to install subsea array cables for an offshore wind farm off Belgium before laying subsea export cables for the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea.

It will then install a subsea interconnector cable between Belgium and the UK to boost the power supply to Britain to support the reduction in the cost of electricity.  Significantly, the Maersk Connector is the only vessel with the ability to ground when fully loaded, allowing DeepOcean to install cables from the beach, and in shallow and deep waters.  This key capability was developed between the vessel builder Damen and DeepOcean’s own engineering team.

The 138m-long vessel has docked at the A&P yard on the Tyne where it will be fitted with an advanced split capacity carousel produced by Parkburn Precision Handling Systems of Hamilton and Telford.  Fabricated at the A&P facility, the carousel has an outer diameter of 27.3m and is 7.5m tall, and allows the vessel to carry 7,000 tonnes of cable.  The installation of the carousel and associated equipment will be managed by DeepOcean and will take two months. It will then embark on its first project in Belgian waters and will have a crew of 90, including 70 of DeepOcean’s specialist offshore personnel.

DeepOcean has also contracted North East-based IHC to deliver an advanced cable plough for the vessel, which will be fitted later in the year at the Port of Blyth for projects in 2017.  Designed in conjunction with DeepOcean, it will be the first offshore plough designed for all seabed operations, but specifically for handling large diameter power cables.

DeepOcean has also awarded contracts worth £20m to North East companies such as SMD and OSBIT Power in support of its offshore wind activities.

Pierre Boyde, commercial director, said: "We are extremely proud of the Maersk Connector, which demonstrates the benefits of close collaboration and innovative design and engineering. Its ability to lay cable from the shore to deep waters is a significant efficiency gain for offshore projects, which is a key consideration for the energy industry.

"It also proves the value of the UK supply chain and the quality of the businesses serving the international offshore sector. DeepOcean is always keen to use local suppliers who share our valves and can bring new ideas and efficiencies to our projects."

He added: "The investment in the Maersk Connector represents DeepOcean’s increasing presence in the offshore renewables and interconnector markets. Our continued growth in these sectors supports a programme of research and development to improve offshore operations, which includes establishing productive, long-term relationships with the supply chain."



Darlington HQ shortlisted for RICS awards

Darlington HQ shortlisted for RICS awards

Friday, March 04, 2016

A stunning transformation project that saw a former wool factory building in Darlington turned into a modern office space is in the running for a top award.

Interserve Construction Limited carried out the conversion of the 42,000ft2 warehouse at Lingfield Point in Darlington to create a centre of excellence – now home to 500 Capita employees.

The project has now been shortlisted in two categories at the RICS Awards 2016 - Building Conservation and Commercial.

The refit - carried out between February and October 2015 at a cost of £3.8m - saw the former industrial space recycled into an open plan environment with access flooring and energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems.

Eddie Humphries, Lingfield Point estates manager, said: “The transformation of existing warehousing space has created one of the best working environments in the North East and is further evidence of Lingfield Point’s commitment to sustainable development and design.

“The key to the success of this latest project was to ensure as much of the existing building remained and anything new added to what was already there.

“By changing the use from a warehouse into an open plan office space and recycling as much of the building as possible we created a vibrant and creative working environment.

“The space benefits from inspired design and a modern open layout and has allowed us to continue the transformation of Lingfield Point with the regeneration of this huge area from disused factory buildings to high spec, high-quality office space.

“Providing the very best level of service and delivery to our growing business community is paramount at Lingfield Point – that’s evident in the site’s unbeatable accessibility, great online connectivity and 24 hour concierge and security service.”

Darren Hurst, senior quantity surveyor at Interserve Construction Limited, said: “We’re thrilled the project has been shortlisted in two categories - it’s fantastic news for all involved.

“One of our key aims for this project was to ensure client satisfaction, neighbouring business satisfaction and end user satisfaction, which was achieved.

“The existing warehouse now has a new lease of life which will remain in place for many years and through good practice we were able to divert 1,356 tonnes away from landfill and all materials have been reused or recycled elsewhere.“

Judges for the RICS Awards visited Lingfield Point this week and winners will be announced on April 15.

Being shortlisted for the RICS Awards is another feather in the commercial cap for Lingfield Point, whose customer service was singled out as an example of best practice in a national report issued by the British Council for Offices (BCO).

The site’s Memphis Building, which houses the Student Loans Company, was awarded the BCO Best Recycled Office Space in the UK and the BCO Test of Time award.

For further information go to www.lingfield point.co.uk

Million pounds start to the year for Darlington high risers

Million pounds start to the year for Darlington high risers

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Darlington based Stone Technical Services (STS) has announced its most successful start to the year since it established 18 years ago.

The restoration, maintenance and high level repair experts have secured almost £1 million of new work which will take them ahead of their projected growth plans, helping to create a number of new jobs.

STS is made up of four divisions - STS Lightning Protection, STS Restoration, STS Maintenance and Facilities Management and STS Conservation- and is now on course to increase turnover to £3.5 million in 2016.

The new work includes projects across the North East, in London and in Scotland at a variety of high profile buildings and structures.

In Scotland, STS Maintenance and Facilities Management has secured a major project to assist with repairs on the Forth Road Bridge. STS is providing the lifeline and safety systems as well as internal and external repair ladders and a water-based safety boat to allow for the maintenance work at the 2.5km long bridge which spans the Firth of Forth, connecting Fife and the North of Scotland with capital city Edinburgh and the South.

In London, STS Lightning Protection is carrying out a full system installation at the new Peter May stand at The Oval cricket ground, while STS Maintenance and Facilities Management has been working at QPR’s football stadium at Loftus Road installing lifeline systems to allow for the safe repair of floodlights on all of the stands.

Also in London, STS Restoration is carrying our specialist lead work repairs at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand and historic surveys to check for any required repairs at Westminster Central Hall.

In the North of England, STS Lightning Protection is installing new systems to Grade II listed heritage buildings at the University of York.

Managing director of STS, Dave Stone, said: “We’ve certainly had a good start to 2016 which is a great boost at a time of year that can see a slump in work due to weather and budget restraints.

“The projects we’ve secured use all of our divisions and our fantastic mix of skills- from the very technical to the heritage- allows us to work on a vast range of structures. All of our divisions are thriving which is contributing to a real growth for STS and this in turn is creating new jobs for people at our Darlington HQ.”

STS currently has a team of 40 and hopes to create around 10 new jobs before the summer.

Darlington brothers, Dave and Grahame Stone, established Stone Technical Services in 1998 and now have offices in Edinburgh city centre, near Stockport in Cheshire and in central London as well as their HQ on Kellaw Road in Darlington.

New heart disease treatments under microscope at Darlington's National Biologics Manufacturing Centre

New heart disease treatments under microscope at Darlington's National Biologics Manufacturing Centre

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pioneering medical work to repair patients' damaged organs and treat heart disease is being developed at the CPI's £38m Darlington laboratory.

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is spearheading a project aimed at replacing human cells, which it says could help peoples’ bodies regain normal functions.

The £1.8m work, carried out alongside Cobra Biologics, is being done at CPI’s Darlington-based National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, which officials say can put the North-East at the vanguard of global health treatments.

The Cobra venture is focused on developing equipment, known as AAV vectors, which are used to carry out gene therapy treatment.

Officials say the Darlington work seeks to improve understanding and manufacturing of the vectors, so more remedies can get to market, which they say could eventually provide antidotes for ailments such as heart disease, Parkinson’s and spinal cord injuries.

Dr Fergal O’Brien, CPI director of biologics, said the partnership will accelerate the amount of potential medicines in testing and subsequently in use.

He said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Cobra and applying our expertise in developing scalable and industrial manufacturing platforms to AAV production.

“We see this as a key enabler in meeting the current and future needs of the biologics industry and are delighted to be supporting a leading UK company.”

Peter Coleman, Cobra Biologics’ chief executive, said its work with CPI will offer a new dimension in healthcare while retaining the business’ position in gene therapy.

He added: “We have been a leading organisation in the development of the gene therapy sector for more than 15 years and have seen through customers an extraordinary growth in new potential medicines being put forward that utilise viral vectors as part of their production.

“This collaboration with CPI will help address the need for a scalable AAV production process.”

The project, which has received £1.4m backing from the Government’s Innovate UK body, is one of five in a wider £8m Whitehall development focused on taking cell therapies from ideas to reality.

CPI’s Darlington site was officially opened last year by Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister, and brother of Eurosceptic, Boris Johnson, who hailed it “money exceptionally well spent.”

Delivering highly-skilled jobs and providing firms with technical backing to research and develop potentially life-saving cures and vaccines, including cancer treatments and therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, officials say they hope it will tackle the US’ stronghold on the life sciences sector.

Speaking to The Northern Echo at its opening, Nigel Perry, CPI chief executive, said: “The UK is first-class for healthcare development and this is a world-class asset.

“This building is a real example of Darlington and the North-East leading the way and it’s now over to the industry to take advantage of what is here.”

CPI also operates a site at NetPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham, which is supporting a project focused on creating a breathalyser to transform diabetes treatment by monitoring more closely patients’ glucose levels. 

Multi-million pound Darlington regeneration project is hailed a success by developer

Multi-million pound Darlington regeneration project is hailed a success by developer

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Keepmoat has hailed the success of a multi-million pound housing project after selling the equivalent of a new home every week since 2013.

Regeneration specialist Keepmoat is working with other agencies to deliver the Central Park home scheme in Darlington.

The project is a £170m redevelopment of a former council depot and clearance area and incorporates the £35m Darlington College, the £13m Teesside University Business School, as well as the recently completed £38m National Biologics Manufacturing Centre and £7m Business Innovation Centre.

More than 300 new homes are also being built and Richard Bass, managing director for Keepmoat in the North-East, believes the 94 sales taken already is proof of the demand for more houses in the area.

He said: “This is a really special scheme in that it was heavily adapted from initial proposals in 2007 before the economic downturn.

“We worked closely with all the partners involved to deliver a plan that was financially feasible in the new economy, but still aimed to address the housing shortage in Darlington.”

Darlington Council’s leader, Bill Dixon, added that the development “ticks all the boxes”.


HS2 bidders seek suppliers for £900m enabling works

HS2 bidders seek suppliers for £900m enabling works

Friday, January 08, 2016

Subcontractors and suppliers are being offered the chance to meet companies bidding for £900m of enabling works on HS2.

Representatives of the seven teams in the running for the three packages of enabling works will be at a meet-the-bidder day at the NEC in Birmingham.

The seven teams in contention for the works are:

• Balfour Beatty Vinci JV

• Carillion/Eiffage/Kier JV

• Costain Skanska JV

• Laing O’Rourke/Murphy Group JV

• Fusion (Morgan Sindall/BAM/Ferrovial)

• Align JV (Bouygues/VolkerFitzpatrick/Sir Robert McAlpine)

• Momentum Infrastructure (Hochtief/Dragados/Galliford Try).

The bidding teams are keen to meet companies with specific capabilities that will be required to deliver the enabling works.

In particular they are looking to engage with companies that deliver:

• Demolition & site clearance

• Fencing

• Security

• Environmental services

• Remediation

• Utilities

• Bulk excavation

• Civils sub-contracting

• Highways surfacing and construction

• Exhumations

• Structure (Bridges/Buildings) strengthening specialists

• Acoustic specialist installation for sound protection work to properties

• Archaeological investigations

• Habitat and species relocations

• Soft and Hard Landscaping

• Management of invasive plants: Japanese Knotweed and Hogwood

• Diversity and inclusion specialist training providers

• Instrumentation and Monitoring • Existing building surveys

• Temporary road diversion

• De-vegetation

• Waterway Diversion

• Compounds + access roads

• Temporary Works including Bridges

• Geotechnical Surveys

The event is being organised by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.

Chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “The delivery of HS2 offers opportunities for supply chain companies from across the UK, and will create significant demand on key competencies.

“We wanted to ensure that those companies with the right abilities had the chance to put themselves in contention to work as a supplier on these substantial contracts.”

Companies looking to take part in the event must book their place before 27 January.

To express interest in attending, please email enquiries@ceca.co.uk with the subject ‘HS2/Construction Enquirer’ and further details will be sent.

Darlington's Cornmill Shopping Centre gets new owner in £108m retail firm expansion

Darlington's Cornmill Shopping Centre gets new owner in £108m retail firm expansion

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Darlington retail complex has a new owner after a property investment firm agreed a £108m deal.

NewRiver Retail Limited says it will take on the Neptune Portfolio, which includes Darlington’s Cornmill Centre.

Bosses at NewRiver say the Neptune deal, worth £92.3m, also takes in the Ridings Shopping Centre, in Wakefield, and Cardiff’s Capitol Shopping Centre.

NewRiver has also completed a £15.6m agreement for three further assets, which include a retail warehouse near York’s Clifton Moor Retail Park, London’s Blenheim Shopping Centre, and Daventry Retail Park, in Northamptonshire.

The expansion comes after a £150m shares offer.

David Lockhart, NewRiver chief executive, said: “Following our recently over-subscribed £150m equity raise, we are delighted to announce the swift deployment of the majority of the proceeds into these acquisitions.

“The Neptune Portfolio marks another major acquisition, and we are confident they will add significant long-term value for shareholders.”

NewRiver’s operations already include Middlesbrough’s Hillstreet Shopping Centre, Allison Court Retail Park, in Gateshead, and it has property in Newcastle’s NorthumberlandStreet.

The Cornmill Centre was bought for £84.5m by the Moorfield Real Estate Fund in 2007, which took it on from Investream, who had owned it from 2002.

Opened by Mayor of Darlington, Councillor David Lyonette, on August 27, 1992, the centre reshaped the heart of Darlington, with the most notable loss being the Co-op store, which stretched from Priestgate to Tubwell Row.

The centre was also used for filming of the BBC comedy sketch programme, The Fast Show.The mall, which welcomes thousands of visitors every day, was called Cornmill because in ancient times the Bishop of Durham sited the town corn mill where the TK Maxx multi-storey car park is today.

Leading UK subsea specialist contractors is the latest North East Company to secure funding

Leading UK subsea specialist contractors is the latest North East Company to secure funding

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Darlington based Modus Seabed Intervention (Modus), which is part of the Tompkins UK Group, has secured a £170,000 short term loan from the fund to finance the performance and warranty bond required to deliver a £1.7 million contract in the offshore wind sector.

Modus is one of a number of sub-contractors working with leading European energy group, DONG Energy, the Danish company laying the foundations of the extension to the Burbo Bank offshore windfarm 8km off the coast of Liverpool Bay in the Irish Sea.

Modus is surveying for, and disposing of, unexploded ordinance at the new windfarm site and hopes that successfully delivering this contract will open the door to similar large offshore wind projects.

FW Capital worked closely with Modus and its bank, HSBC, which provided the bonding required for the contract.

Modus’ Finance Director Mark Short said: “Modus has both the capacity and capability to expand its market share in the energy sector. This contract could be pivotal in paving the way to us winning further contracts in the sector and demonstrating our diverse range of services.

“The Tees Valley Catalyst Fund has provided us with the backing we needed to win this contract and winning it is excellent news for us. We quickly established a relationship with FW Capital and they worked with us and our bank to ensure we had the finance in place.”

Modus is a well-established company operating a comprehensive range of unmanned underwater vehicles which can be deployed across the entire life cycle of a subsea field development.

With the North Sea oil industry a key market, 2014 was a challenging year for the subsea sector.

While Modus continues to work with companies in the oil and gas and telecoms sectors around the world, it has invested in cutting-edge technology and developed its capabilities to take advantage of opportunities in the offshore wind sector.

FW Capital Investment Executive Chris Johnson said: “Modus is a business on an exciting growth path which is flying the flag for the Tees Valley. It’s an innovative company with a fantastic track record and an excellent reputation for providing market-leading products and services.

“Modus operates in a highly competitive marketplace and winning this contract is fantastic news for the company and its employees. It will open up new opportunities in future and I’m pleased that the loan from the Tees Valley Catalyst Fund has played a key role in this.”

The Tees Valley Catalyst Fund was conceived by Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU), the Local Enterprise Partnership for the area to provide companies with the finance to grow and prosper. Backed by Regional Growth Fund, in October 2014 the fund was widened to businesses across the North East and parts of North Yorkshire.

Neil Kenley, Director of Business Investment at Tees Valley Unlimited said: “We wanted the Catalyst Fund to be the facilitator that would allow ambitious companies to reach new markets, win new contracts and showcase their capabilities on an international scale.

“The Tees Valley and wider North East has a wealth of unbridled knowledge and expertise and when we capitalise on that more work and more jobs come our way.”

HSBC Relationship Director Stuart Henry said: “Modus is really demonstrating the strength of the offshore and subsea supply chain here in the Tees Valley. As they continue to secure new contracts in both the UK and overseas, we look forward to working with FW Capital and the Tompkins UK Group, supporting the company as they continue their growth strategy.”

Darlington leads the way for growth

Darlington leads the way for growth

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Continued investment in Darlington has made it one of the fastest growing town's in the North of England according to new research.

The latest regional GVA breakdown by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) ranks Darlington as the best performing town in the North East.

According to the research, the town’s workplace based GVA per head of £23,745 outperformed the regional average of £18,216.

The ONS bases its calculations on income generated by individuals and businesses producing goods and services which have both grown rapidly.

The research shows the town’s booming business services and wholesale and retail sectors helped buck the trend, making the largest contribution to the growth.

Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council, told BQ: “We’re delighted to see that Darlington has been named as the best performing economy in the North East for the second time in as many months.

“These positive GVA figures provided by the ONS are testament to the continued investment in the town and the hard work of many people, to bring a number of major projects and developments to fruition.

“We’re not resting on our laurels in Darlington though, we have exciting plans for future developments in the pipeline, which we’re currently exploring with our partners”

Nationally, London recorded the biggest increase in GVA in 2014 with growth of 5.3% and Northern Ireland the lowest, at 1.9%.

BQ’s Mike Hughes recently published an entire BQ2 in association with Lingfield Point looking at the recent growth in the town.

You can read the magazine here.