Two leading UK property firms are putting pen to paper on the £14 million deal in the coming days, which would see them take half a proposed business park within the Clyde Gateway regeneration scheme.
The swathes of land earmarked for the development have lain derelict for around 40 years and are now accessible to businesses again due to the M74 completion. Once the unnamed developers conclude legal formalities, work is expected to go ahead at the site, which straddles Glasgow and South Lanarkshire, by August.
Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, hailed the deal as “the first in a series of good news for the east end of Glasgow and a bonanza when the M74 opens”. The Clyde Gateway project is one of the long-term schemes under way in Scotland, with the imminent deal the first major bricks-and-mortar milestone in its 20-year plan. Scores of jobs will be created in the construction of the site, with the estimated 700 posts emerging once the units are completed.
The news is a major coup for Gateway in the current economic climate. It is one of the few speculative industrial developments being built with private sector money outside London. Such a significant investment has in turn generated optimism that both firms will deliver tenants – and the anticipated jobs – in the short to medium term.
Mr Neil yesterday told The Herald the development and potential for employment spin-offs would not have been achievable without the new road, due to open on June 28, being completed.
Mr Neil said: “Along with the M74 opening and the Commonwealth Games, this is a huge boost to the area and gives it a massive advantage in attracting investment.
“With the infrastructure in place, we’ve a major selling point to companies – not just in the context of Glasgow but all of Scotland. The main thing now will be to sell the units being built, but this is where the M74 is the major selling point not just for UK firms but also European businesses.”
According to Gateway, recent efforts to attract investment have resulted in “a well-regarded property development company, with offices in Scotland and England with a strong track record in the commercial sector, close to being appointed”.
This private sector investment is worth in excess of £4m, with an employment capacity of 200 jobs. An approach has now also been made to Clyde Gateway by a second prominent UK commercial property company to invest £10m to develop industrial space – with the potential of supporting 500 jobs.
Ian Manson, Clyde Gateway’s chief executive, said: “Clyde Gateway East Business Park would never have been built if the completion of the M74 link hadn’t gone ahead.
“The impending £14m investment from the private sector means 50% of the site begins to get developed within a matter of weeks of the infrastructure works being completed. The resultant 700 jobs will be a significant contribution to our jobs target over the 20-year lifespan of Clyde Gateway.”
George Redmond, a Gateway board member and councillor in the city’s east end, added: “Our hope now is that the jobs will flow into the area. Firms want to see that all the infrastructure is there, and we’ve got that.
“This is a huge milestone and a vote of confidence in what we’re doing at Gateway. No-one in the private sector puts £14m into a scheme without being confident of a return, and the firms we’re talking to are industry leaders.
“The east end has witnessed some of the worst joblessness and deprivation in western Europe since the collapse of heavy industry but this marks a significant move to reverse that. With so much else happening in the east end, the people now need sustainable jobs.”
The Gateway project ultimately aims to attract 20,000 jobs to the former industrial heartland of Glasgow over two decades, as well as hundreds of new homes. It is also key to the location of Commonwealth Games sites, including the Athletes’ Village and the National Indoor Sports Arena.
Around £30m has been spent on a raft of projects, and £10m of private sector investment has been attracted to build an office development close to Bridgeton. Gateway has also proposed reopening the Olympia Theatre, along with a new public library.
Strathclyde Police has said it intends to relocate to the Gateway area after the regeneration scheme gave the force £1m for a feasibility study into a move.
Leader comment: Page 16