Aircraft orders reinforce Barrow’s industrial market

Regeneration bosses welcomed the announcement from the Ministry of Defence that BAE Systems' Barrow-in-Furness shipyard will share the contract to build two new aircraft carriers.

BAE Systems is set to form a joint venture with VT Group to build the carriers. The work will be shared between Barrow, Portsmouth, Glasgow and Rosyth.

The shipbuilding industry underpins much of the commercial property market in Barrow, with forthcoming units at Ramsden Business Park targeted at engineering and materials suppliers to BAE Systems.

Bob Pointing, chief executive of West Lakes Renaissance, said: "There is a feeling of some optimism in Barrow, which is the product of a very healthy order book at BAE Systems.

"Even before the confirmation of the carriers contract, there was a renewed sense of confidence and pride has been swirling around the town largely thanks to the regeneration effect and work of West Lakes Renaissance and the local authority, along with a fairly healthy housing market, which is bucking national trends.

"With work started on The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness – a £200m business, residential and leisure development that will create a thriving new community on the foundations on the town's industrial heritage – and good progress being made in the town centre regeneration and Heart of Barrow initiative, a bold new chapter in Barrow's rich history is starting to take shape.

"Barrow is certainly on the up."

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, added: "This is a long-awaited announcement, which will strengthen the future of thousands of highly skilled manufacturing jobs across the UK.

"I am delighted that progress has been made today. The green light to proceed with two new state-of-the-art aircraft carriers, takes us a step closer to getting this important project off the drawing-board and into the shipyards, and into the hands of our skilled workers in places such as Barrow-in-Furness."

The carriers, to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Once they enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively they are expected to remain in the fleet for up to 50 years.

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