A TREASURY minister has hailed the "transformational opportunity" of land once occupied by a steelworks.

Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, met with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and members of the South Tees Development Corporation board, where he learned of the 25-year vision for site – part of which was home to the SSI steelworks before its closure in 2015.

Mr Houchen claims the site has the potential to create 20,000 jobs and add an additional £1bn per year into the region's economy.

Mr Jenrick is the latest Treasury minister to travel to the site and throw his weight behind the project, after a visit by Liz Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in June.

It also follows an intervention by Chancellor Philip Hammond who awarded the site £123m in last year’s Budget.

Speaking during the visit, Mr Jenrick said: “We are investing in improving connectivity, strengthening skills, supporting enterprise and innovation, and promoting trade – building an economy that works for everyone, and making Tees Valley an even better place to live and work.

“This area has a key role to play in the new economy and, by working closely with local leaders such as the mayor Ben Houchen and Simon Clarke MP, we will ensure the Northern Powerhouse continues to boost growth and productivity across the country.”

In May, the Tees Valley Mayor led a delegation to Bangkok where an agreement in principle was signed with the three Thai banks who hold an interest in the former SSI site.

Subject to approval, the deal will start the process of returning the land to local control.

Mr Houchen said: “As part of my Treasury charm offensive, I’m delighted to welcome yet another Government minister to the Development Corporation site.

“Thanks to Robert and his colleagues, we’ve managed to secure an agreement in principle with the Thai banks to take back control of the SSI land, and have been awarded £123million to kick-start remediation work.

“While we’re making progress with the Thai banks, I’ve made it crystal clear that we’ll compulsory purchase the site if the final deal isn’t signed soon.

"We have investors lining up and ready to go, but we just need the land – it’s the final piece of the jigsaw.

“Today’s visit was a fantastic opportunity to present our case for a package of financial support in time for next year’s Spending Review.

"With a bit more help, we will be able to accelerate the transformation of the site and bring thousands of jobs back to the region.”