News of "investment zones" on Teesside has received varying reactions, from being hailed as "gamechangers" to being denounced as "madness".

The Chancellor announced the new investment zones, with Middlesbrough and Hartlepool set to be the first two areas put forward by the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen to benefit, and Teesside Airport also in the running.

Mayoral development corporations for the two towns are to be up and running by the end of the year.

Kwasi Kwarteng said in his mini-budget on Friday (September 23): “I can announce the creation of new investment zones. We will liberalise planning rules in specified agreed sites, releasing land and accelerating development.

“We will cut taxes. For businesses in designated tax sites, for 10 years, there will be accelerated tax reliefs for structures and buildings, and 100% tax relief on qualifying investments in plant and machinery.

“If we really want to level up, we have to unleash the power of the private sector."

Read more: Mini-budget 2023 LIVE - Kwasi Kwarteng unveils big TAX changes

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “These investment zones will be gamechangers for Teesside, creating high-wage jobs, securing millions of pounds of investment, and rejuvenating town centres in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool to ones we can be proud of. 

“It’s also exciting to see Teesside Airport being included, which will help attract more investment to the site making the airport more sustainable quickly.

"These zones will rip up the rule book, slashing taxes for businesses to incentivise them to move here, will get things moving quickly by simplifying the planning processes, while keeping 100% of the business rates on Teesside."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen.Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen.

The airport already has customs benefits as part of the Teesside Freeport, but could soon see changes to capital allowance rules and employers' National Insurance contributions alongside simplified planning processes.

Global aviation gaint Willis is investing £25m in a new aircraft maintenance facility and a Jet Centre.

The Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) said Willis could save more than £8.5m over the ten-year lifespan of its investment.

New planning measures unveiled also means that it is possible for almost instant planning permission to be granted locally because it is within an area designated for aviation development.

Peter Snaith, partner in the Global Business Team and manufacturing sector head at Womble Bond Dickinson, said: “Extending the package of benefits at freeport tax sites to a larger footprint of nearly 40 new investment zones across more parts of the country is very good news to unlock growth across the UK.

"This is not a U-turn. It is a welcome development that will extend the benefits already available, which are beginning to attract manufacturers and other inward investors onto freeport sites."

Read more: Mini budget and income tax - 5 things Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced

John McCabe, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are pleased to see Government act quickly to address a number of pressing economic challenges.

“The big-ticket items around investment zones, planning and infrastructure all have real opportunity to accelerate growth across the region. But we’ll need to see the freedoms and flexibilities proposed backed-up with investment and a continued commitment to genuine local autonomy."

Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, said: “In Middlesbrough, the sting in the tail of the enterprise zone is that our land, our assets and our democratic powers are to be specifically transferred from our local council to unelected, unaccountable development corporation board members appointed by Tory Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald. Picture: Sarah Caldecott.Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald. Picture: Sarah Caldecott. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

"I say to local councillors, and specifically the so-called independents on (Middlesbrough mayor) Andy Preston’s executive, you were not elected to give Middlesbrough away.  

"If they go along with this insane development corporation plan, the damage they will cause our town will be felt for generations to come.

"They are supposed to be independent. It’s about time they started to think for themselves instead of continuing to blindly and recklessly support this madness."

Investment zones are also set for Sunderland at Riverside, the Northern Spire and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.

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