Swale Borough Council will be delighted to see the push for jobs, as LaSalle is to undertake selective demolition and redevelopment within the original science park. This will eventually accommodate 3,250 jobs (currently 1,600). Combined with new development on land to the south, this creates the capacity for a total of 4,150 jobs.
While many will be disappointed not to see the inclusion of plans for a new Junction 5a onto the M2, LaSalle has wrestled the twin problems of traffic generation and the availability of convenient and appropriate housing.
The creative proposal is that adjoining the science park, 300 and 400 flats and houses, in a mix of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units, would be built. The master plan says the new homes would be “specifically rented by LaSalle to those employees who might have a temporary need for housing near the park or for those who have greatest difficulty finding homes of a suitable style” implying Swale lacks high quality executive/family homes.
Some in the local community will inevitably oppose any house building adjacent to the site, arguing it will be the thin of the wedge. However, if the statistics are correct, 70 per cent of the current workforce live within 10 miles of the park, and so would probably still commute. Alternatively the remaining 30 per cent who live further afield, or new recruits to the growing companies, may choose to live and work closer and could be in the market for the new homes.
What is good to see is that LaSalle now has a real appetite for Kent Science Park and a belief it can create a nationally significant centre for research and development in life sciences.
Kent Science Park has got a big competitor down the road in Discovery Park, but the reality is the county is all the better for having these two heavyweights, each helping to put Kent on the science and technology map.