Mixed report on science park but bosses still upbeat

02 Jan 2008
KENT Science Park has welcomed the views of a government inspector despite his lack of support for the park's six-hectare expansion plans.

People living in rural areas near the park were overjoyed last month when David Wildsmith noted in his report of Swale Council's Local Plan that its controversial proposals "had not been fully justified".

However, park bosses have not allowed themselves to become too disheartened and have instead focused on the positive comments made by Mr Wildsmith.

Such comments include his recognition the science park's contribution to the economy of Swale and that land to the south and south east would be the most acceptable directions for expansion.

Andrew Bull, of park managers LaSalle Investment Management, said: "We are delighted the inspector has recognised the role Kent Science Park will play, when he says the site provides the main opportunity to diversify the local economy and bring about a shift towards higher-value employment and skills.

"This is especially important given Swale's need to regenerate its economy, and attract new jobs."
"We are pleased that a lot of what Mr Wildsmith suggests we need to address is already in hand and we will take account of his comments in formulating any short-term or long-term development proposals."

While the inspector acknowledged there was huge public opposition to the science park's plans, he pointed out in his report that he was not required to adjudicate on proposals for thousands of new houses.

Neither was he commenting on the link road between the A2 and M2. *

He said the matters he was commenting on were "much more modest" and recommended a polity framework to allow limited growth subject to certain conditions.

Not surprisingly, science park bosses have welcomed the news, as well as the recommendation that a master plan for long-term expansion be prepared.

Other comments which they are pleased with include Mr Wildsmith's view that the site continues to be referred to as a science park and that an on-site university of sorts was not essential in attracting businesses and jobs.

They are also happy the inspector recognised the value of the recently opened Kent Science Resource Centre, which offers a BSc foundation degree. **

Our Comments

* The inspector was not able to comment on the larger scale expansion, houses and A2/M2 link road following the withdrawal of those plans by the Kent Science Park during the inquiry.

** The course has so far proved rather disappointing with only three students from Swale.