A NEW £5 million access road to serve Waterfront Business Park in Barrow has been officially opened today (Friday, March 19) by town MP, the Rt Hon John Hutton as part of a huge (c.£521,000,000) and ongoing (since 2007) EU funded regional development drive to boost regional competitiveness and employment.
The new road, called Harding Rise, could serve as a road to prosperity for many as it will enable all traffic to Cumbria’s newest business park and the adjacent dockland owned by Associated British Ports to bypass residential areas of Barrow Island. Its completion marks another important milestone for Waterfront Business Park. The first phase of the park was completed last year and now has 7.5 hectares of plots available for a wide spectrum of businesses, ranging from office accommodation, research and development to industrial, storage, warehousing and distribution.
Today’s ceremony marked the completion of a 15-month project managed by Barrow Regeneration and Cumbria County Council, on land purchased by the council, and delivered by main contractor Carillion. The project was funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Mr Hutton was joined by Bob Pointing, Programme Director of Barrow Regeneration, to unveil the road in front of assembled stakeholders and community representatives.
The name Harding Rise harks back to an 18th Century map which identifies the area of Barrow Island through which the new road runs as Harding Flat. Olde Barrow Isle – as it was known then – expanded dramatically during the next century as Barrow grew into one of Britain’s major industrial power houses. Harding Rise was chosen to link Barrow’s heritage with the town’s current transformation as part of Britain’s Energy Coast™.
Bob Pointing said: “Harding Rise is a magnificent gateway into Waterfront Business Park with panoramic views to Walney and across the Irish Sea. Barrow is leading the development of a new energy economy for Britain’s Energy Coast™ and this road allows us to connect with these new opportunities. It must also be a first in the UK that we have managed to install the road infrastructure early. We would also recognise the patience of Barrow Islanders who have had to put up with the construction traffic, although we were able to limit the inconvenience by importing the equivalent of 2,300 lorry roads of material by sea. It is fair to say everyone is delighted now Harding Rise is open and I hope that Harding, whoever he was, would have been proud too.”
Cllr Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for highways and economic development, said: “Various projects are taking place that will enhance Barrow and boost the town for this and future generations. Harding Rise is a key component of this regeneration and I’m delighted it is now opening.”
Harding Rise links Michaelson Road with the Waterfront Business Park and docks area, allowing the residential area of Ramsden Dock Road to become a cul-de-sac. Business park and port traffic will now have immediate access to Barrow Link Road, which in turn gives quick access to the A590 and onto the M6.
Barrow Regeneration (the former Furness arm of West Lakes Renaissance) secured £9.8 million needed for the project from the NWDA (£4.9m) and the European ERDF (£4.9m). While the road cost £5 million to construct, the remainder was used to buy land from neighbouring BAE Systems, demolish buildings to make way for the road, and associated works to improve the surrounding area.
Steve Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said: “The new access road is a vital step forward in making Waterfront Business Park a success. It will open up Barrow and the wider Waterfront development to new opportunities to attract investors and business.”
Euan Cartwright, a member of the European Regional Development Fund Programme Monitoring Committee and Vice Chair of Cumbria Vision, said: “Waterfront Business Park offers businesses a superb location to capitalise on the myriad of opportunities arising from Cumbria’s transformation into Britain’s Energy Coast™. The access road is key to unlocking the potential of this site and all the investment and jobs it will create over the coming years.”
Harding Rise was designed by Capita Symonds and built by Carillion, which has also been responsible for developing Waterfront Business Park site. Both companies were appointed by Cumbria County Council.
Kevin Thompson, of Carillion, said: “We feel proud to have been involved with the development of this business park which we believe will one day bring real employment benefits to the area.”
Paul King, Project Director at Capita Symonds, said: “It is always very satisfying to see the vision of our designers develop and be transformed into reality. Capita Symonds is proud to have been part of a highly motivated delivery team that has created this first class gateway and business park.”
Local enterprise agency Furness Enterprise is marketing Waterfront Business Park to businesses. Already more than 100 businesses have expressed an interest in locating on the first phase of the development, with more than 30 of these enquiries described as “promising”. Around 1,500 new jobs are expected to be created by the park over the next 10 years.
Harry Knowles, Chief Executive of Furness Enterprise, said “The new access road improves Waterfront Business Park’s appeal to expanding firms, with many already interested due to the very competitive price of plots. To coincide with this important milestone, we are launching a new international promotional brochure which promotes the life and work opportunities the Waterfront development will bring to Cumbria as Barrow’ Britain’s Energy Coast™ business park.”
The business park is part of the wider £200 million Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness development, which is being led by Barrow Regeneration. It also includes Marina Village – which comprises 650 homes, a hotel, leisure facilities, restaurants and bars; a new 350-berth marina and Watersports Centre; a cruise ship terminal providing a sea gateway to The Lake District; and a wetland nature reserve. Carlisle-based Story Homes has been appointed as preferred developer for the scheme.