MP says Wilton Centre to play key role in freeport ambition

Redcar MP Jacob Young says the Wilton Centre will play a key role in the new Teesside Freeport’s ambition to create 18,000 jobs over the next five years.

Speaking on a visit to see the results of the Wilton Centre’s £2m refurbishment, Mr Young – one of the main architects of the freeport plan – said: “We want to see businesses relocating to the Tees Valley, bringing their experience and bringing their expertise to our region, and Wilton Centre is a fantastic place to do that.”

(from left) Wilton Centre accommodation manager Claire Morton, Jacob Young MP and site director Steve Duffield

(from left) Wilton Centre accommodation manager Claire Morton, Jacob Young MP and site director Steve Duffield

A freeport offers businesses a range of benefits including tax relief, simplified customs procedures and a streamlined planning process.

Development land on the Wilton Centre site is included within the boundary of the Teesside Freeport. The main building and Technical Development Area are located just outside.

Before becoming Redcar’s first Conservative MP in 2019, Mr Young was a process operator with SABIC, based at Wilton International, and was a regular visitor to the centre.

He said one of the benefits for existing tenants was their opportunity to collaborate. Companies moving to the centre would “work together with other businesses currently based there to deliver the jobs on the freeport site – and that is exactly what we want to see.”

He described the refurbishment of the Wilton Centre as “magnificent”, providing the ideal environment for employers developing new ways of working. “It’s got a real freshness to it. There is so much flexible office space and the new facilities, particularly in the restaurant, really unlock that potential for businesses. I think it’s great to offer it in Redcar and Cleveland,” he said.

During his visit Mr Young also praised the work of the life science businesses based at the centre. “They are really showing that Teesside is leading the world in a lot of developments around COVID-19, supporting people and improving their health.

“We are on a mission in Teesside, to level up and to transform our area for the better. Renewing its future as a centre for the Green industrial revolution.”

He said that over the past few decades 18,000 jobs had been lost in the area, therefore “to be part of the team that’s bringing new jobs back to Teesside is really quite special for me.”

Sixty companies employing 750 people are based at the Wilton Centre. There are professional services firms as well as science-based businesses who benefit from laboratory and office space.

The centre is now owned by We are Pioneer Group (WAPG). WAPG was formed by a £120m merger between its previous owner Trinity IM and BioCity Group to create the UK’s largest network of science and tech-focused businesses, with 10 science parks covering nearly 3m sq ft and home to more than 600 hundred businesses.

Claire Morton, the accommodation manager at the Wilton Centre, said she shared Mr Young’s enthusiasm for the future. “There is a real sense of excitement and our location makes us feel that we are right at the heart of it,” she said. “Jacob highlighted how our tenants join together for projects. As part of the refurbishment we introduced numerous flexible spaces which are ideal for this type of working. Collaboration is not confined to the Wilton Centre. We are creating links between all WAPG’s sites to help businesses tap into this incredible network of knowledge and innovation.”