Council leaders have welcomed the announcement of an additional £40.6m of Growth Deal funding for the North East.

It brings the total level of approved Growth Deal funding for the region – including funding which was confirmed last July – to £329.9m.

A report detailing the funding and projects set to benefit was discussed at a meeting of the North East Combined Authority today (Feb 17).

A number of North East projects were included in the latest announcement, including:

• River Tyne Economic Development – a project to tackle contamination on the river to allow additional development to take place;

• Sunderland Central Business District – a central district/urban quarter to link the city centre with the River Wear;

• Newcastle Life Sciences Incubation Hub – lab and office space for businesses in the life sciences sector;

• Northumberland College, Advanced Manufacturing Centre – upgrading facilities at the college to improve skills levels and support economic growth;

• Merchant Park 2 – providing support for investors and supply chain companies at the site next to Hitachi Rail Europe;

• National Centre for Healthcare Photonics – to be created at NETPark, County Durham, in order to bring research and development facilities for companies in the field of healthcare photonics, which looks at how light can be used to diagnose and treat medical conditions;

• Sunderland Enterprise and Innovation Hub – including the development of the North East’ first ‘Fab Lab’, which help  turn ideas into products by offering access to advanced digital manufacturing technology.

Cllr Simon Henig, chair of neca, said: “This additional investment in the North East is to be welcomed. It will not only help to provide support to a range of businesses across a number of different sectors but will also enable us as a region to develop the right skills within our workforce.

“We must continue to make the case for the North East as support and funding such as this is vital if we are to achieve our ambitions for the region, its businesses and residents.”

North East LEP Chair Paul Woolston said: “The North East’s strategic economic plan sets out an ambitious vision to transform the economy to deliver more and better jobs by enabling businesses to invest, grow and prosper. We are delighted the Government is supporting our proposals with more significant investment.

“The additional £40.6m endorses our approach providing investment for innovation, skills, business support and transport.

“The overall deal will act as a catalyst to lever in substantial private and public investment, creating thousands of jobs and providing sustainable and long term growth.”

Members of the combined authority also received an update on further investment fund decisions and the development of a North East Growth Hub, which will provide business support within the region.