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£50m invite to transform Swan Hunter

Swan Hunter shipyard Photo: ITV

There's a scattering of men with hard hats, a good number of enormous yellow sea mats and yards and yards of empty space.

Swan Hunter in 2012 is a fraction of its former self, once a world-renowned shipbuilding yard that had seen through three centuries and two world wars.

North Tyneside Council has decided it is time for a facelift.

“This is an exciting opportunity for a developer partner or consortium to be involved in shaping the future of this well known former shipyard creating thousands of jobs for local people.”

– Linda Arkley, North Tyneside Mayor

The council is inviting companies to invest in the land and build warehouses, offices and even a learning village.

The idea is that if they stump up part of the £50m needed to build crucial infrastructure, then they can also reap part of the reward.

The buildings would be rented out to offshore and marine companies who may want to use Swan Hunter's important access to the Tyne.

One such company could be Close Architectural & Engineering, which is building the enormous yellow sea mats currently at Swan Hunter.

Subsea mats Credit: ITV

Keith Vassallo, Close's project manager, thinks that the yard could have a strong future.

He pointed out that the site already has plenty of space, office areas and a dock on the Tyne.

North Tyneside council said it had decided to advertise across Europe now, because the area had acquired low carbon enterprise zone status.

Businesses which decide to locate at Swan Hunter can then apply to get relief on business ratres for up to five years.

But attracting so many companies will not be easy: in February the offshore engineering firm McNulty went into administration, a well-known player on the banks of the Tyne.

The council is hoping that the offshore business continues to grow, and that an improved Swan Hunter will be enough to convince companies to bring industry back to the historic yard.