Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Discovery Park enterprise zone to be extended – but how far?

In the recent Budget, one of the most exciting things for Kent was the news the enterprise zone at Discovery Park is to be extended.

The Chancellor’s announcement will undoubtedly be welcomed by all, as it aims to help the area maximise the economic benefits from expanded operations in life sciences and environmental technologies.

However, as so often happens with government announcements, there’s a lack of detail on what it actually means in terms of physical expansion, so it’s still too early to put out the bunting and book a band for the party. 

Could it mean government agreement to extend the existing site at Discovery Park in terms of eligibility for financial assistance? Or perhaps it embraces the Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project or Manston Business Park – being developed by East Kent Opportunities – or even the site of the former Manston Airport?

Given the success of Discovery Park in delivering on its promises, and the on-going investment in the proposed Thanet Parkway station, these are all massive and obvious questions that many in the county will be seeking the answer to.

No doubt the Treasury will want a full and detailed business case to be worked up before they agree to move the boundaries. Let’s hope the case, which has the backing of KCC and SE LEP, can be agreed quickly and East Kent can continue to grow.

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