A NEW business park being developed on a former colliery and cokeworks site has secured its first tenant.

Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems Europe, part of a global Fortune 500 corporation, has signed up for a unit at Jade Business Park, in County Durham.

The 55 acre park, close to the A19 and Dalton Park on the outskirts of Murton, will provide more then 1million sq ft of new employment space which could accommodate 2,500 jobs.

The park is owned by Durham County Council, which is funding its first phase of development, and will be managed by its economic development arm, Business Durham.

SEWS-E produces and distributes automotive wiring harnesses, fuse boxes, connectors, and cables throughout Europe is expanding to locate at Jade Park.

With a turnover in excess of €700m and more than 20,000 employees in Europe, SEWS-E is part of the 1615-founded Sumitomo family of companies which operates in 65 countries.

The company's unit will be part of the first phase of Jade Park, which is due to complete next summer and will include seven industrial units, equivalent to 155,000 sq ft of new space for distribution, technology, and advanced manufacturing businesses.

The site is being delivered in partnership with Highbridge Developments, the company behind the UK’s largest office park, Cobalt, in North Tyneside.

Peter McDowell, property and business services director at Business Durham, said: “It’s fantastic to see such a high profile and successful business take the first lease at Jade Business Park. The site’s location makes it the perfect base for companies involved in the automotive construction supply chain like Sumitomo.

“With further speculative units available at Jade Park, this is a very promising and exciting start. Business Durham is thrilled to be able to offer such fantastic employment space to businesses within Durham and further afield.”

Guy Marsden, director at Highbridge Properties PLC, said: “We are delighted to be developing this first phase of speculative development of 155,000 sq ft and to have secured Sumitomo Electric as our first occupier, prior to practical completion. The site, spanning 55 acres, can accommodate a wide range of uses and we look forward to making further exciting announcements at Jade Business Park in the near future.”

Durham County Councillor Alan Napier, deputy leader of the council and its cabinet member for finance, said: “We are really pleased to announce Jade Business Park’s first tenant; this is the culmination of a tremendous effort from us and a significant moment for the site. Jade will ultimately deliver thousands of jobs and be worth tens of millions of pounds for our economy.“The fact that such a massive global company has chosen to come here is a real vote of confidence in County Durham as a place to do business and we look forward to welcoming Sumitomo and the firms which will follow.”

Minister of state for local growth, Jake Berry MP, said the move was 'a sign of the confidence companies have in the North East and UK economy'.

Jade Business Park is a designated Enterprise Zone and £14m from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Highways Agency is going towards increasing capacity of the A19/A182 junctions serving the business park, to allow for future growth.

The project received funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the NELEP. The Local Growth Fund is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

Helen Golightly, chief executive at the North East LEP, said: “Jade Business Park offers some fantastic opportunities for both local and inward investors and it’s really encouraging that SEWS-E has chosen this Enterprise Zone for its expansion. Being located directly off the A19 is an attractive proposition and we look forward to welcoming more high-value manufacturing businesses as the site progresses.”