Sunderland highway project delivers £17m boost for local businesses

Local small and medium-sized businesses in and around Sunderland have been awarded over £17 million worth of contracts as part of a new highways scheme.

New figures released show that £17.1m – 43% of the total scheme procurement – has been spent with local SMEs on the highways scheme in the City of Sunderland.

Phase 3 of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC3) is a £40m development which will provide an uninterrupted dual carriageway (A1231) that links the Northern Spire bridge and Sunderland city centre and forms part of the council’s £70.8m investment to relieve congestion issues, improve business links and connect communities to the city centre and Riverside Sunderland.

The Riverside Sunderland masterplan captures a number of ground-breaking projects to reimagine part of the city and sets out how the council will kick-start the rebirth of a 33.2 hectare site on both sides of the River Wear, creating the UK’s first carbon-neutral urban quarter, building 1,000 new homes and creating office space for up to 10,000 workers, as well as a state-of-the-art library and community hub and healthcare facility.

With more than 80% of the project finished, 53% of workers are from Sunderland, 93% of workers are from the surrounding local area

As Esh Construction prepare to hand over the completed project in autumn 2021, the new transport corridor also opens up a more sufficient route which connects Nissan, the Low Carbon Enterprise Zone, and International Advanced Manufacturing Park to the city centre.

A lack of framework options meant Sunderland City Council, on behalf of the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO), developed the NEPO 211 Framework for Civil Engineering and Infrastructure Works, which was utilised for SSTC3. Further to this, SSTC3 served to function as a pilot for the National Themes, Outcomes, Measures (TOMs) Framework, which aims to provide a minimum reporting standard for measuring social value.

Sunderland City Council’s chief executive Patrick Melia said: “We are committed to building community wealth and delivering projects that are supported by local businesses, so the city and its people get the maximum benefit of any council spend. As with many other projects we’re working on across Sunderland, SSTC3 is delivering tangible benefits to our communities through our work with Esh Construction, who share a commitment to added value through their work.

“This project is improving our city’s connectivity and transport links for residents and businesses, but we feel it is important that they benefit from the project itself and not just the end result.”

Esh Construction’s SSTC3 project director Steve Garrigan said: “This project has set a benchmark for future schemes. It has been a really big challenge and it has pushed the boundaries. We piloted a new framework which targeted the elements of social worth to benefit the community. Working with Sunderland City Council, we have set a precedent for procurement moving forwards.”

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