WORK has begun on Sir John Hall's multi-million pound vision for Wynyard Business Park, near Stockton, which it is hoped will create up to 20,000 jobs in the region.

Last night, it was announced that construction group Bowmer and Kirkland, based in Sunderland, had won a £5m contract to build the first offices at the site, next to the former Samsung factory.

Bowmer, which will provide employment for about 100 people during the build, will be responsible for the design and construction of the 50,000sq ft office overlooking the park's main entrance.

Paul Brown, development director for Wynyard Business Park, said: "We will now be going full steam ahead with the construction of the luxury offices, following the granting of planning permission by Stockton Borough Council."

Bowmer area director Alan Johansen said: "We are delighted to be working with Wynyard Business Park on this all-important first office building, on what will undoubtedly become one of the driving forces in business parks in not just the region, but the UK."

"Now that we have won this contract, we will be looking to appoint a strong team of sub-contractors from the local area."

Foundation digging and excavation work begins this month, with the main frame of the office due to go up next month. It is hoped the first building will be finished by April next year.

Sir John, the driving force behind Gateshead's MetroCentre, and a former chairman of Newcastle Football Club, is behind the business park.

He sold land next to it to Samsung when the company first came to the region.

News that Samsung had sold its 207-acre site to North-East businessman Chris Musgrave earlier this year angered Sir John, who had wanted to buy the land back and redevelop it as part of the business park.

It is hoped Sir John and Mr Musgrave, who has dubbed his neighbouring park Wynyard One, will work together to create a workplace for thousands of people on the two business parks.

A spokeswoman for Wynyard Business Park said it was difficult to predict exactly how many jobs would be created in the long-term. But she said at least 5,000 people are expected to be working on the site in the long-term, and up to 20,000 in the next 20 years.

The Samsung factory closed in April with the loss of 425 jobs.