BULLDOZERS have started work on a project designed to kick-start economic growth in a town reeling from job losses.

After a three-year wait, construction has begun on the first office units at Colburn Business Park, near Catterick Garrison.

It is hoped the 16 units, built and managed by Richmondshire District Council, will create up to 60 jobs and help to attract private firms to the site.

At a turf-cutting ceremony at the £1.5m development, district council leader John Blackie said: "This is literally a ground-breaking event; the first development at Colburn Business Park and the first time the district council has provided workspace for the digital industry."

Colburn was hit with two significant job-loss blows last year.

In August, 30 jobs went when United Co-operative said Quality Fare's Colburn warehouse, on the Walkerville Industrial Site, was surplus to requirements when they took over the firm.

A week later, concrete pipe manufacturer CPM Group Limited announced its works in Colburn were to close with the loss of another 30 jobs.

The council's head of economic development Nicola Hood said: "We hope the project will act as a catalyst for further investment in the business park. The Colburn Innovation Centre will be a high specification development."

More than £500,000 of council money has been ploughed into the scheme, with additional contributions coming from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward and the European Union.

Colburn mayor Tom Henry said the project shows the people of Colburn and the A1 corridor that generating business opportunities is important.

He said: "We are at the centre of an area of predicted growth and I hope this council project will encourage private companies to invest in the site."

Businesses interested in renting one of the units should call Nicola Hood or Abi Bromirskyj on (01748) 829100.

Information on buying or developing any of the other plots at the park is available from Peter Ide at Yorkshire Forward on (01904) 693335.