JOBS and investment lie in store for Tyneside and the wider North East if the region collaboratively uses the new UK Infrastructure Bank to fund a key transport project.

That’s the message from the managing director of the North East’s largest commercial property firm, UK Land Estates, who wants to see an extension of the Metro system that could act as a spur to connect more of the region’s population with jobs.

Keith Taylor is calling on the North of Tyne Combined Authority and the North East LEP to collaboratively leverage some of the £12bn funds available from the newly created UK Infrastructure Bank in Leeds to pay for extra Metro stations that would connect some of the region’s busiest office, warehouse and factory sites.

In particular, the reopening of the disused “Bensham curve” – a piece of railway that stretches between Newcastle, Gateshead and the Team Valley, but currently only serves freight.

Mr Taylor said: “This is a sustainable transport proposal that would really stimulate growth by building on the success of Team Valley, using green connectivity as the catalyst for more employers to move to the area.

“It’s exactly the type of project the UK Infrastructure Bank is calling for.

“What’s more, expansion of the Metro in this direction would open up the future possibility of stations at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.

“UK Land Estates is constantly talking to blue chip organisations looking to open warehouses, logistics centres and production facilities – we can make sure the North of Tyne and North East LEP areas reap the benefits of their investment and accompanying jobs, but only if the connectivity is in place.”

In the recent Budget, the Chancellor set out the scope for the new UK Infrastructure Bank which will be based in Leeds and support projects that align with the Government’s net zero target by 2050.

Mr Taylor added: “The last 12 months of lockdown have undoubtedly changed commuting habits of office workers. We need to be encouraging those people to use sustainable public transport for those two or three days they might be using the office in the future.

“And in many industries, particularly those represented on Team Valley, there’s a continued need for staff to attend the workplace. Making it clean and easy for all is a recipe for attracting more investment.”