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Build & Sustainability

Work begins on £61 million NETPark expansion

A County Durham science park home to companies at the forefront of global medical and technological advances is to grow larger. Durham County Council has kicked off a third development at NETPark, in Sedgefield, which it says has potential to create as many as 1250 jobs and pump hundreds of millions of pounds into the local economy over the next decade.


Work is underway on a £61 million expansion of one of the UK’s premier science parks following a contractor’s appointment.

Led by Durham County Council, the development of phase three of The North East Technology Park (NETPark), at Sedgefield, has begun, after Kier was chosen to deliver the project.

The county council is funding the expansion with support from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Phase three has the potential to create 1250 skilled jobs and be worth £625 million to the local economy over the next ten years.

Plans are also in place for a fourth phase of NETPark – with potentially more to follow – with additional land designated for development that would take the number of jobs at the site to between 3000 and 4000.

Home to 40 companies including Kromek, Filtronic, IBEX Innovations and PolyPhotonix, NETPark – which opened in 2004 – provides space for firms that employ more than 700 people across specialist sectors such as advanced materials and manufacturing, x-ray technology, semiconductors, defence, electronics, photonics, robotics, pharmaceuticals and space.

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, council leader, says: “It is really exciting to have started work on the third phase of NETPark and to have appointed Kier to deliver the project.

“We are delighted to be making a significant investment in the expansion and grateful to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership for its support, which is in recognition of the fantastic employment opportunities that NETPark presents our region.

“The prospect of the further 1250 skilled jobs worth £625 million, and the potential for NETPark to ultimately host 3000 to 4000 jobs in total, is proof we are delivering on our ambition to create more and better jobs for our residents, as set out in our Inclusive Economic Strategy.”

The new phase of what is the region’s premier science park will include up to 232,000sq ft of new laboratory, office and production space, and will cover an initial seven hectares of land, rising to 16 hectares.

It will also provide facilities for both existing tenants to expand and to enable future inward investment.

As well as the potential 1250 new direct jobs, the expansion stands to provide an additional 2200 in the supply chain.

Skilled jobs will be created across a broad range of specialties, from scientists and technicians to administration, accounting, marketing, IT and logistics.

In addition to the council’s investment, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership is providing funding that will enable sustainability and low-carbon measures in phase three.

This is on the back of a previous Local Growth Fund grant, also from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, which allowed highway infrastructure to be put in place to open up the land for development.

Lucy Winskell, North East Local Enterprise Partnership chair, says: “NETPark has undoubtedly been one of our region’s biggest economic success stories.

“Home to three national innovation centres, as well as a community of science and technology companies that have helped grow key sectors across the North East, NETPark has proven its ability to secure investment into our region and create jobs.

“The expansion of the science park will bring further business growth to the North East and create more than 1000 highly skilled jobs in emerging and growing sectors of industry, including health and life sciences, space, engineering and technology.

“The North East Local Enterprise Partnership has supported the growth of NETPark through the Local Growth Fund since 2015, and this latest investment has ensured work can now progress on phase three, helping to deliver more economic growth and more jobs for the North East.”

The appointment of Kier to deliver the expansion builds on work by the company as pre-construction partner.

Daniel Doherty, regional director of Kier North and Scotland, adds: “This is an exciting project, which represents the ongoing importance of the North East as an area of growth for us, as well as our commitment to delivering outstanding projects in the science sector.

“We are looking forward to delivering a project befitting of Durham County Council’s vision and which will leave a lasting impact on the local community for years to come.”   

Development of phase three is expected to be complete by early 2025.