Government announces Enterprise Zone status for the North Kent Innovation Zone
The prospect of 9,900 new jobs in Kent and Medway is now much closer after the North Kent Innovation Zone (NKIZ) was granted Enterprise Zone status by the Government.
The announcement, in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement on 25th November 2015, sees the NKIZ become one of 26 new or extended Enterprise Zones across the country.
Extending the sector focus on innovation in life sciences, advanced manufacturing and engineering in the Kent Innovation Corridor, the NKIZ covers three sites – the Kent Medical Campus in Maidstone, Rochester Airport Technology Park in Medway, and earmarked sites in Ebbsfleet Garden City (in Dartford and Gravesham). Between them, these sites will deliver around 230,000m2 of high quality business premises with potential for 9,900 new jobs by 2027, boosting the local economy and employment and training opportunities in Kent and Medway.
Enterprise Zones offer a number of incentives to business occupiers, including business rates discounts worth up to £55,000 per year for five years, to help accelerate investment and growth. The Government sees the creation of more Enterprise Zones as a way of boosting employment and business, and asked Local Enterprise Partnerships to submit their priorities to be granted Enterprise Zone status. The NKIZ bid, led by the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership, was selected by the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership as its first choice and was one of five proposals put forward to Government by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.
The Chancellor’s announcement adds to the 24 existing Enterprise Zones across the country, including Discovery Park in Sandwich, which are collectively home to nearly 20,000 jobs and more than 500 firms.
Welcoming this news, TGKP’s Chairman, Rob Bennett said:
“The announcement that North Kent Innovation Zone is getting Enterprise Zone status is excellent news for Thames Gateway Kent. The opportunities at Rochester Airport and Ebbsfleet Garden City will further boost our offer as an ideal location for companies wishing to invest and grow. The Innovation Zone will build on the area’s considerable strengths in innovatory technologies, advanced manufacturing and engineering.
“I also particularly welcome our partnership with Maidstone Borough Council that brings the Kent Medical Campus into the Innovation Zone. This will help further expansion of sector expertise and innovation in life sciences and medical technologies in Kent and Medway, and is yet another demonstration of the value of cross-boundary collaboration to support economic growth and regeneration.”
Once the necessary regulations come into effect, the NKIZ will offer great opportunities for commercial property developers and companies wishing to invest in new business premises as well as from start-up and existing companies looking to locate in the Kent Innovation Corridor. North Kent partners will therefore be working closely with site owners and developers over the coming months to determine the best way of progressing developments and securing business occupiers. The enterprise zone incentives will come into effect from 1 April 2017.
Further information will appear on the TGKP website as details are firmed up: a dedicated NKIZ website is being prepared and a link will appear here in due course.
A full list of new and extended Enterprise Zones can be found on the GOV.UK website (click on this link to view).