To enable North Kent to prosper and to support the growth of London as a global city, it is vital that we attract new businesses, help existing businesses to grow and prosper, encourage delivery of new homes and re-shape our town centres.
The level of economic growth we aspire to for North Kent will not be delivered through growth in existing business alone. Redevelopment of the large tracts of brownfield land across the area will be crucial for achieving our ambitions and unlocking Key Development & Investment Opportunities is already underway, with some being taken forward by the private sector and others requiring some level of public sector intervention.
The Partnership's priorities are set out in the Thames Gateway Kent Growth Plan. These include:
1. Delivering growth in key locations
North Kent offers a wide range of development opportunities, including a new Garden City at Ebbsfleet, commercial and industrial sites in the Medway-Swale Arc and mixed developments reviving our town centres.
Enhancing connectivity across North Kent and its transport links to London, the rest of the UK and to Europe, is essential for sustainable economic growth, enabling the free flow of goods, information, services and people.
North Kent benefits from a number of valuable transport assets, including Ebbsfleet International Station, the A2/M2 and important seaports: capitalising on these existing resources is vital to help attract high-value businesses to the area.
Further investment in transport and infrastructure, including digital infrastructure, continues to be a critical factor both to relieve local congestion and unlock the potential of new employment and residential sites.
For more information on specific sites, go to Key Development & Investment Opportunities.
2. Attracting and Retaining Investment
Our employment targets will not be delivered solely from growth in existing businesses. Attracting inward investment is fundamental to achieving our ambitions for North Kent.
One element of our approach is ensuring the supply of high-quality sites and premises that meet companies’ needs, from micro-businesses to multi-nationals.
Another element is promoting North Kent’s offer to inward investors, promoting the opportunities for sector clustering, such as renewable energy (particularly offshore wind) in the Medway-Swale Arc Assisted Area, creative and cultural industries in Medway and around the proposed London Paramount leisure resort at Swanscombe Peninsula, and life sciences at Kent Science Park.
3. Focusing on Quality
Improving the quality of life in North Kent is an integral part of our Vision. Creating high-quality buildings, enhancing the public realm and natural environment, and providing high-quality community and cultural facilities and public services are imperative if we are successfully to attract new people to the area and improve the lives of existing residents.
We see a particular role in promoting best practice and solution-focused approaches to resolving tensions between development and social, economic and conservation objectives.
4. Supporting Businesses: Growth in Key Industry Sectors
The diversity of North Kent’s economy has helped its resilience during the economic downturn. But the most competitive economies tend to be those where clear specialisms or clusters of activities promote collaboration and competition and create high-value jobs.
We want to support growth across the whole North Kent economy: promoting existing sector strengths (e.g. advanced manufacturing, ports and logistics, and sustainable construction); highlighting sectors where there are particular opportunities for growth due to North Kent’s locational advantages (e.g. environmental technologies, business and financial services, creative and cultural industries, tourism and leisure, ICT and life sciences); and responding positively in areas where population growth and demographic change can be drivers for growth (such as in healthcare and retail).
5. Supporting Businesses: Increasing Innovation, Enterprise and Creativity
Fostering an entrepreneurial culture and helping businesses to exploit new ideas through innovation and creativity are critical for economic growth. More companies need to invest in research and development (R&D) and embed innovation and creativity into their everyday business activities to raise productivity.
Ways the Partnership can help include: encouraging and supporting more start-up companies, especially in knowledge-intensive industries; Improving access to finance; ensuring access to coherent and well signposted business support; and promoting collaboration between local universities and businesses to take research and innovation to market-readiness.
6. Improving Skills, Qualifications and Employability
A skilled workforce is a key driver of productivity and competitiveness and is vital to achieve sustainable economic growth. The skills across North Kent’s residents and workforce need to be raised further to ensure that companies remain competitive and local people can successfully fill newly created roles, especially in knowledge-intensive sectors.
We need students coming through schools and colleges to have appropriate guidance about career choices; businesses need to attract and retain more graduates and offer high-quality apprenticeships; unemployed and economically inactive residents need training opportunities that will help them enter the jobs market; and employers need to invest in training to raise the skills of their existing workforce.