WORK has started on the £60million Royal Opera House Production Park in Thurrock.

The park is the UK’s first national centre of excellence for technical skills, crafts and production for the performing arts and live music industries.

The 14-acre site in Purfleet is set to open in 2010, creating 250 jobs and 2,250 training places.

Speaking at a celebration launch at the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury on Tuesday, council leader Cllr Garry Hague said: “Having the Royal Opera House Production Park and Academy in Thurrock is a great coup for us.

“It will provide education opportunities to the local community, creating additional employment and investment opportunities.”

The park is a joint venture between the Royal Opera House, Thames Gateway Development Corporation, East of England Development Agency, Thurrock Council and Creative and Cultural Skills and Arts Council England.

It will house set and scenery construction workshops for Royal Opera House productions, and an area for sets and materials mimicking the main Covent Garden stage.

The park will also be the home of the flagship building for the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills, offering training opportunities for 16 to 19-year-olds and professionals seeking a recognised qualification in offstage and backstage technical skills.

Communities and Local Government Minister for Thames Gateway and the Olympics, Shahid Malik, was also at the launch.

He said: “There are hundreds of places who would give their right arm to be in the position that Thurrock is in right now.

“The ambience here shows Thurrock is a really exciting place.”