Mixed reaction as park expansion is refused

11 Jan 2008
A DECISION to turn down plans that would have created 100 jobs has been branded a "major disappointment".

Kent Science Park at Sitting-bourne wanted to invest mil-lions of pounds in two large new buildings designed for hi-tech businesses.

But Swale Borough Council threw out the plans because councillors feared the impact of extra traffic on local roads, especially nearby Ruins Barn Road.

Picture by Mike Smith

The Five Parishes Opposition Group protest march against the plans to expand the Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne. Photo taken by Mike Smith.


The decision is a blow to the site, regarded as a flagship in the county's campaign to boost the knowledge-based economy and create highly skilled jobs.

Kent Science Park chiefs, who are thought to be considering an appeal, said their application included proposals that went beyond the requirements of Kent Highway Services.

They pledged to improve the 30mph speed restriction signs, lay red tarmac with 30mph speed limit symbols, and encourage staff to join Kent County Council's car share scheme.

Andrew Bull of LaSalle Investment Management, managers of Kent Science Park, said: "We take the safety of local residents, visitors and those people employed at the park very seriously indeed, and our consultants worked with the technical experts at Kent Highway Services to come up with a solution to meet the requests of residents on Ruins Barn Road.

"Obviously Swale Borough Council's decision is a major disappointment, as it contradicts the findings of the technical experts and the council's own stated policies, which sup-port the expansion of Kent Science Park as a location for knowledge-based employment within the borough.

"The decision threatens our ability, to attract a further 100 new jobs to Swale -jobs the borough badly needs.
"We will now need to reconsider the way forward."

Spokesman for the Five Parishes Opposition Group, Andy Hudson, said: "We do not believe the site should be developed beyond that which could safely be accommodated by the existing transport infrastructure, albeit with minor improvements and the introduction of adequate safety measures.

"We are totally against any expansion either inside or out-side of the security fence that would warrant large-scale infrastructure such as an A2/M2 link road and feel that there are bet-ter placed sites already in existence."

The group has capmaigned to prevent any further expansion to the Science Park which may impact on the surrounding countryside.