The “Ni-Park” near the A518 on the outskirts of Newport is expected to create hundreds of new jobs for area residents by providing a base for agribusiness companies.
Eric Carter, a city and borough councilor who is also president of the Newport Regeneration Partnership, said that with the economic development of the area, this is an ideal opportunity for the rehabilitation of the road line. disused railway between Newport and Stafford.
The railway from Newport to Stafford via Gnosall is no longer in use but a trail popular with runners and cyclists now runs alongside it.
Councilor Carter said the new park would support the reopening of the line, for “the train, the streetcar, whatever it is,” and a station in Newport.
“Now is a good time to talk about it.” He said once he was sure he did, he planned to petition Newport residents about it.
Construction work on the Ni-Park itself began in January and continues during the coronavirus lockdown. The Telford & Wrekin board said the project “is intended to provide a significant economic boost to Newport and the region.”
Councilor Carter hailed the ongoing work as a sign of something Newport is looking forward to in these uncertain times, and said the park is expected to be completed in about a year.
“We are very happy that this is happening now,” he said. âThere is a Ni-Park group that has had two or three meetings.
“What we’re going to do is work with [Telford & Wrekin Council, which has provided funding for the project] to make sure the plans we put in place are being followed.
“This is a high quality agro-technological park, not a commercial park.”
He said that although Newport has seen hundreds of new homes built in recent years, “we don’t have the jobs to support it.”
“This is going to change. People won’t have to get in their cars and drive to Telford, Wolverhampton or Birmingham to work, we want people to have jobs on their doorstep.
“It creates more money coming to the area locally.”
The works at Ni-Park are delivered by the Balfour Beatty infrastructure group.
This is a key part of the Newport Innovation and Enterprise Package, which has secured Â£ 6.36million in funding from The Marche Local Business Partnership under the Local Growth Fund, along with a investment from Telford & Wrekin Council.
Harper Adams University near Newport is also linked to the project through its own Agro-Engineering Center for Innovation.