IT was fantastic to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer single out the Tees Valley in this year’s Budget – identifying the people of our region as "optimistic and ambitious for their future". This, coupled with the announcement of a freeport for the Tees and a new Treasury office in Darlington, clearly demonstrates that the Tees Valley is at the forefront of our Government’s plans.

Undoubtedly, the Treasury campus will bring new jobs and investment to our region. However, to truly level up the North, more must be done.

In 2019, the Tees Valley Combined Authority set out an ambitious Strategic Economic Plan that would provide 25,000 additional jobs and contribute an extra £2.8bn into our local economy.

To meet this goal, it is critical that the Tees Valley has the infrastructure in place that allows businesses to thrive. That means first class connectivity with the rest of the UK, as well as high-specification, high-quality commercial property readily available.

As one of the region’s largest commercial property developers, we know there are sites already primed for the factories, warehouses and offices that can realise this area’s potential. We just need to unlock them with investment.

Existing business parks, such as the Teesside estate, have the properties and development land available that can accommodate businesses looking to re-locate or set up in the area. Not only have they the space, but developments like these are well connected to amenities such as lunch venues, shops and fitness centres that newer “greenfield” sites often don’t have in place.

The impact of coronavirus and potential changes to tariffs following the UK’s departure from the EU means that more domestic businesses are considering moving production to the UK. With good connectivity, close proximity to markets and a readily available workforce, the Tees Valley needs to exploit its prime position and accommodate businesses that are reorienting their operations.

To activate this potential, there is a need to invest in affordable, high-quality warehouse and manufacturing space that is designed to flex with firms’ needs.

On May 6, we elected a Tees Valley mayor, and that person can encourage this activity via funding, grant support and targeted local plans, that will reap rewards for the region through business rates returns and high-value job creation.

But it’s not just in funding our existing developments that I can see opportunity.

Plans are in progress for a comprehensive redevelopment scheme at Darlington station to accommodate more trains and boost local and national services. Investigations are also underway to improve the region’s rail freight network between the Eaglescliffe to Northallerton branch of the East Coast Main Line, because low bridges and tunnels currently restrict the size of cargo containers that can be used.

Improvements such as these are indicative of the potential for the Tees Valley’s transport connectivity to be scaled up. However, more can always be done and this is something that should be high up on the agenda.

I urge the new mayor to back investment in the region’s transport network and infrastructure. It will undoubtedly help to deliver a major boost to the Tees Valley, helping to unlock opportunities and level up the region in employment opportunity, business growth, connectivity and economic wellbeing.

Keith Taylor is the managing director of property developer UK Land Estates, which, with 28 estates in the region, is the largest owner of commercial buildings and development land in the North-East