Industrial land must be opened up for new investment

Economy Minister Nigel Dodds performed a sod cutting ceremony at the new £40million industrial phase of the Bridgewater Park, Banbridge.

Today’s event signals the start of work on the first industrial phase, which is scheduled for completion by spring 2009. Of the 123 acre site, 47 acres have been zoned for industrial use with the remaining 76 acres zoned for mixed use including retail and tourism. The Outlet shopping facility is the first element of the mixed use development to have been completed.

Land zoned for industrial use must be retained and developed in support of high quality investment opportunities, if the Executive is to achieve its challenging goal of halving the private sector productivity gap with the rest of the United Kingdom by 2015, Economy Minister Nigel Dodds said today.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister said: “This £40million development in Banbridge will open up major investment and employment opportunities for the Down and Armagh areas. The promoters have indicated that almost 800 new jobs could be created through the development of the industrial phase of Bridgewater Park alone. I commend their vision and commitment to developing this industrial site and the work they have completed to date.

“If we are to continue to create a strong, wealthy local economy then we must ensure that the appropriate skills, infrastructure and support mechanisms are in place to secure and retain investment. The availability of industrial land is a critical issue as companies wishing to locate here or expand an existing presence need to have modern property options to choose from across Northern Ireland.”

The Minister continued: “Despite the recent negatives associated with the credit crunch there will always be a demand for good quality industrial land. In 2007/08 Invest NI achieved a record year for property sales to its clients, all of which had an immediate and demonstrable business need.

“It is also gratifying to note that Invest NI is working closely with Planning Service to ensure that there is a generous supply of land zoned for industrial development in each of the main hubs outlined in the government’s Regional Development strategy.”