A DEAL that will result in the regeneration of almost 1,500 acres of land that was once used for North-East steel making has been described as "the most exciting regeneration project in the whole of Europe" by a Government minister.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry made the claim as he visited the South Tees Development Corporation site in Redcar to confirm a £14m bid to unlock two major metalworks projects, announced at last year’s Autumn Budget, has been successful.

He also joined Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen who confirmed he had reached a deal with Tata Steel Europe to secure over half of all developable land at the site.

Mr Houchen said Teesside was currently in the "most important month in it's history", with yesterday's announcement and the vote on the future of Durham Tees Valley Airport later this month.

Redcar MP Anna Turley said she was "pleased" the land had been secured, whilst Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and east Cleveland, said the announcement marks the moment where "Teesside gets to take back control of its future".

This announcement marks the moment where Teesside gets to take back control of our future, will see over 1,420 acres of land transferred to the South Tees Development Corporation.

Work on the newly-acquired land will start this year, with the projects expected to bring hundreds of millions of pounds and at least 1,500 jobs for North-East workers.

Mr Houchen said: This is the biggest announcement we have made since I was elected – it allows investors to sign on the dotted line knowing that we have got the land and can create the jobs we've talked about.

"The site will take six to eight months to get ready, but that doesn't mean investors can't move onto the site before then. It is not just flicking a switch, but the biggest hurdle was securing the land.

"I've been working with doubters since I was elected, they said the things I pledged couldn't be done, they said it about this, they said it about the airport. We're about getting things done – yes things might be slower than some people would like, we just ask people to be patient because these things don't happen overnight."

Negotiations to secure the remaining 870 acres of land owned by SSI in receivership are ongoing.

Mr Houchen added: "Already we've had messages of support from former steelworkers who think it is a brilliant idea. This is a journey – it was a horrible when 3,000 people both directly and indirectly lost their jobs in 2015, but we've got to look forward to say what do we want the future of Teesside to be like in 70 years, and this site embodies that.

"It is an important month for me and for everybody – I actually think January 2019 could be the most important month in Teesside's history, whether it is the airport or the Development Corporation.

"Ultimately we are at a cross roads. Do we want to Teesside to succeed? Do we want to create jobs and economic growth for local people? Or do we want to lag behind and find we are looking back in 20 years time thinking what could have been?"

Mr Berry said: "It is the most exciting regeneration project in the whole of Europe. That shows the scale of the ambition of the Development Corporation, and will contribute to make 2019 the year of the Northern Powerhouse, making people who live and work across the North better off.

"This is a golden era of investment in the North-East, and for the first time in modern history, the Government is taking power and money away from London and the south of England and putting it in the hand of the North.

"This site is about the Government getting behind the people of the North of England."

Ms Turley said: “I am pleased the team at the Development Corporation have been able to secure this land from Tata and that the Government have followed through on their Budget promise of £14m to prepare these two sites.

"But to claim that we now have everything we need is very premature when the larger SSI site is still out of reach and the current funding is a drop in the ocean compared with what is needed to get the site cleaned up."

Cllr Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, added: “Whilst I welcome the fact that the business case for the £14m has now been accepted by Government, this is only just one small part of the cash needed for the site – it is only when this cash is secured that we will be able to move forward with confidence."