More than 60 developers have expressed interest in building 210,000 sq ft of office and industrial space at a new business park in Barrow-in-Furness.
Ramsden Business Park, a 16-acre site that stretches across disused docklands on the outskirts of the town, is the first phase of The Waterfront Business Park, a project which will see 60 acres of redundant docklands transformed into three business parks, Ramsden, St Andrews, and Anchorline over the next 10 years.
A shortlist will be drawn up shortly, and potential development partners invited to submit a detailed bid sometime in the spring, with a decision to follow in the summer.
Alfred McAlpine's has been carrying out publicly-funded site servicing work since mid-October, and building work is expected to start in November 2008.
The Waterfront Business Park is part of the £200m The Waterfront Barrow-in-Furness Masterplan, which consists of business parks, a new marina village with 650 homes, a hotel, leisure facilities, restaurants and bars, a new 400-berth marina and watersports centre, a cruise ship terminal providing a sea gateway to The Lake District, and a wetland nature reserve.
The site was purchased from Associated British Ports by Cumbria County Council, who secured £8m of funding from the North West Development Agency and £3m of European Development Fund backing.
West Lakes Renaissance, the urban regeneration company for Furness and West Cumbria, will oversee the development of the Ramsden Business Park, designed by Capita Symonds.
Dennis Laird, project manager for West Lakes Renaissance, added: "We are hugely encouraged by the response we have received from developers wanting to take Ramsden Business Park forward. Ramsden and the wider Waterfront Business Park development will have a significant impact on the area's economy by creating 1,500 and further raise Barrow's profile as a great place for businesses to settle.
"So far the preparation work for the development of Ramsden Business Park has created more than 30 new jobs and boosted the local economy by £3m in terms of local spend – exceeding our initial projections. We are now working hard to secure a proffered developer and take this exciting business park to the development stage."