Enterprise Zone for East Kent

The Government has today announced a major package of incentives for business at Discovery Park, Sandwich as part of a new Enterprise Zone. The package could support up to 2,600 jobs and 190 businesses.
Kent Business TV cameras were at the launch. Click above to watch our film.

The Enterprise Zone package for Discovery Park will encourage new start up businesses and other investors with simplified planning rules and millions of pounds in tax breaks to promote growth.

This complements the investment to strengthen flood defences for Sandwich town and Discovery Park. The works, scheduled to complete in 2015, will increase the protection for the area to a one in 200 or 0.05% chance of flooding in any one year, securing a sustainable future for the area and for the town.

The scheme will increase the protection for 488 households, the new Discovery Park site, valuable infrastructure, including the main coastal access routes, and key tourist and employment areas. The scheme is estimated to cost £25 million and will be funded by contributions from the Environment Agency, Kent County Council, and Pfizer as current owners of the Discovery Park site.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“The new Enterprise Zone will provide a significant economic boost to the South East, creating jobs and helping many new businesses to start up and grow. This is great opportunity for new businesses locating in the area to take advantage of tax breaks and super-fast broadband.

“I also warmly welcome the decision by Kent County Council and Pfizer to work with the Environment Agency to safeguard the future of the Sandwich town and the Enterprise Zone area from flooding.

“Together, these announcements are a great achievement by the Sandwich Economic Task Force. The Government is keen to make use of the specialist skills in the area, and to maintain a life sciences hub in East Kent. This scheme will provide security to thousands of households and unlock another major economic opportunity.”

Communities and Local Government Minister Greg Clark, with responsibility for Enterprise Zones, said:

“Never has there been a more important time to unleash the potential of our towns and cities as engines for growth. The decision to award East Kent its Enterprise Zone status shows how much promise it has to deliver much needed new jobs and homes. The people of Kent, its local businesses and civic leaders are ready to take up the reins of the local economy, with the Discovery Park at the centre of their plan to accelerate growth.”

Flooding Minister Richard Benyon said:

“This example at Sandwich shows that we can provide flood protection to many more households and businesses when private and public funding comes together. I’m delighted that Government, the Environment Agency and local people working with Pfizer have managed to secure flood protection for hundreds of homes and an important site for the local economy as well as for the historic town.”

Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council and Chair of the Sandwich Economic Task Force said:

“Securing an Enterprise Zone and sorting out the flood defences to secure the site are massively important in enabling inward investment and job creation to take place. Not only have we been able to negotiate flood protection for the Sandwich site, but also for the residents and businesses of Sandwich town.

“This is really good news for Sandwich and East Kent and I am extremely grateful to the Environment Agency, BIS, DEFRA, Pfizer and Kent County Council for sitting round the table and brokering a solution. We can now really move forward negotiations with a number of potential investors to ensure that Sandwich delivers new jobs and opportunities as one of the new generation of Enterprise Zones.”

Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet, said:

“Today, the Government’s very positive response to our calls for support marks an important and significant step in regenerating the East Kent economy. This is the first Government that has recognised that the South East has areas of deprivation which demand national attention but also, and more importantly, it is a vote of confidence from Government that East Kent is an area with significant economic potential.

“Having secured both Enterprise Zone status and a scheme that will significantly improve flood defences, East Kent can move forward, diversifying its economy, attracting new businesses, and creating new jobs. I am thrilled that the community has been given the tools by Government to regenerate and start building a new economic future.”

Pfizer Sandwich Site Head Dr Annette Doherty said:

“We are delighted about today’s announcement of Enterprise Zone status for Discovery Park, and we hope the benefits will help facilitate the marketing of the campus to new occupiers, particularly smaller businesses, where costs are most keenly felt.

“This, along with Pfizer’s announcement in June that we’re retaining a Pharmaceutical Sciences presence on the site, will give a great boost for the future of Discovery Park.

“We were pleased to be able to work with the Environment Agency and Kent County Council to contribute to a flood defence scheme for Sandwich Town that included Discovery Park.”

Agreement to proceed to strengthen the flood defences is a key achievement from the Sandwich Economic Task Force, set up in February 2011 to respond to the announcement that Pfizer were leaving the Sandwich site, and act on wider economic development for East Kent.

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