The expansion of the Kent Science ParkThe Kent Science Park wishes to expand its site to five times its present footprint with the view of creating up to 4,800 new jobs. This would make it the largest Science Park in the UK by a considerable margin occupying a whopping 17% of all the floor space in the UK, quite a tall order for a park who only currently employees 15% of its workforce in science based activities.
With empty properties within the current site and three planning applications yet to start years after they were approved there is little evidence to suggest that the Kent Science Park are in any way shape or form serious about their intensions.
They have not restricted their tenant policy allowing the park to become occupied with low grade employment opportunities in call centres and distribution, resulting in one in five jobs being located at a call centre.
Using only figures published by the Kent Science Park, rather than the lower estimates we have assumed, it has shown that the Kent Science Park has grown by 190 jobs between 2004 and 2011 respresenting just 28.5 per annum.
In order to fulfill their latest fantasy of creating 4,800 they would need to create 267 every single year for 20 consecutive years.
The owners of KSP say that the use of the term ‘science park’ is ‘more of an aspirational statement and that it is very rare for there to be formal academic links’. This is not supported by the information on the web site for the UK Science Park Association. All of the well known science parks including those at Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, York, Sheffield, Manchester, and Surrey are all owned or run in conjunction with the local university.
What do we know about science parks
- There are 55 operational science Parks
- Property of square meters 1,150,000
- Number of jobs in tenant companies 47,340
- Number of tenant companies 2240
- 62% of tenant companies are independent single site companies
- 15% of companies are Bio-related
- 45% of companies have 1-5 employees
- 30% have 6-15 employees
- less than 8% have more than 50 employees
- about 62% occupy between 1-150 square meters, with only 18% occupying more than 400 square meters
*taken from 2004 UKSPA Annual Statistics
From the above it can be deduced that:
- The average science park employs around 861 people
- The average number of tenants is 40
- The average floor space is 20,909 square meters
Why their plans are flawed
The KSP currently has 56,000 m2 of floor space, which is nearly 3 times the national average for a science park. The KSP has indicated that it wants to expand the KPS site to over 300 acres to create a further 145,000 m2 of floor space which will mean that it would account for approximately 17% of all the science park floor space in the whole of the UK.
KSP is already one of the larger science parks in the UK, and at 116 acres is larger than the Oxford Science Park at 75 acres. Cambridge Science Park, the largest and arguably the most successful science park in the UK is only 152 acres.
Given these aspirations, the KSP would have to expand its company base from the current 80 companies to around 375 or attract a few very large multi-national companies to the site.