THE biggest local authority shareholder in Teesside International Airport looks set to take a long-standing ambition to develop the 109-acre Southside area a major step forward with the approval of a key partnership deal.

It is hoped the proposals for Southside, where planning permission was granted in 1999 by the Secretary of State for freight handling, distribution and packaging, freight forwarding, will underpin a viable airport, the future of which had hung under a cloud of uncertainty until January last year.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has outlined plans for the development, which would include 3.4 million square feet of logistic, manufacturing and commercial space being built, providing opportunities for more than £200m of inward investment and the creation of 4,400 jobs.

His ten-year rescue plan for the airport also includes commitments to increase passenger numbers to 1.4 million and secure a low-cost carrier by 2022.

Leading members of Darlington Borough Council, which has maintained its stake in the airport since Tees Valley Combined Authority (TCVA) agreed to buy the 89 per cent shareholding of Peel Holdings in January last year, will next week also consider supporting the huge development scheme through a £23.6m loan from TVCA to create roads, utilities and flood mitigation works.

Ahead of a meeting of the council’s cabinet, the council’s leader, Councillor Heather Scott, said she could see no issues with the redevelopment being pushed forward next week, after having being approved by TCVA.

She said: “It is another good step ahead for everything that’s happening at the airport.”

The meeting will hear following a robust selection process Stockton developers Theakston Land and Billingham-based Wynyard Business Park had been chosen to take the project forward.

The appointments have been viewed as key to the success of the landmark scheme at Southside, which remains allocated within Stockton and Darlington’s respective Local Plans to provide sufficient specialist land to support the expansion of airport-related uses and employment land.

Councillors had insisted on ensuring developers had significant Tees Valley links so they had an interest in achieving the best outcome.

A report to the cabinet meeting states the firms were selected after agreeing not to take any profit out early in the development, and forego pay for their management of the infrastructure works. The firms also said they were prepared to earn their returns in the long-term, through dividends, which would depend on effective partnership working.

Darlington Borough Council, together with the other Tees Valley councils and Durham County Council, are minority shareholders of Teesside International Airport Limited (TIAL). To protect the public funds, consent from the minority shareholders is required to enable TIAL to enter into any venture outside the normal business of the airport.

The decision follows concerns emerging that new flights from the airport were being subsidised by taxpayers with TVCA contributing funds to support routes.

The amount has not been released due to “commercial sensitivity” but Tees Valley mayoral candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs said it should be made public.