WORK has started on the first warehouse on a new distribution park in Tilbury.

Construction of London Distribution Park, next to the Port of Tilbury, was officially launched on Tuesday with a visit from Treasury minister Priti Patel.

The first warehouse, which has been taken by builders merchant Travis Perkins, is set to create 124 jobs, with at least 70 per cent being dedicated to local jobseekers.

Perry Glading, chief operating officer at Forth Ports, which owns the port, said: “There will be a good percentage of female workers and ex-Servicemen will also be offered roles. About 70 to 80 per cent of jobs will be for people from around this area.”

The warehouse is part of the wider London Distribution Park, a joint venture between Forth Ports and Roxhill Developments, which is set to be completed in 2016.

The development received outline planning permission in 2012 and is set to create up to 1,100 jobs altogether.

During the turf-cutting ceremony, Mrs Patel, MP for Witham, said: “This is a significant development, creating jobs and bringing benefits to the local community, which is central to building a stronger, more competitive economy.”

She added: “Thurrock is an economic power house and is tremendous on a national level.”

Forth Ports group chief executive, Charles Hammond, said: “We are seeing a strong demand for our operation, where customers can save time and money by taking advantage of our prime London location and our excellent, well-established logistical connections to the UK market.”

Jason Dalby, managing director at Roxhill Developments, said: “This is an exciting time as we see the first bespoke warehouse being constructed.

“This development is a unique offering to the market as the port is already a significant distribution centre and is well positioned for access to the M25.”