Where will the expansion end?

18 Jun 2008
CAMPAIGNERS have expressed fears about Kent Science Park's £25 million expansion plans - saying it could open up the countryside to further development.

The news comes in advance of a public meeting next week to discuss the proposals and their impact on residents and traffic levels.

They consist of a new arrivals centre and other buildings, including an international headquarters for one of the park's existing tenants Ecologia, potentially providing another 500 jobs for the area.

Sean Purey, deputy director of the Kent branch for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that they were "wholeheartedly against it".

"It's a beautiful area of countryside, once you open it up to the M2, you're introducing the opportunity for a whole swathe of development.

"If you improve links from the Science Park to the M2 then the regeneration benefits to Sittingbourne are rather questionable. It's almost easier to get there from Canterbury and Medway than Sittingbourne itself."

However, Andrew Bull of LaSalle Investment Management, the company which runs the park, said: "These proposals, which are consistent with the Swale Local Plan, will ensure the park has the ability to accommodate the needs of existing tenants and new companies moving to the park over the next four to five years.

"The proposed Arrivals Centre, replacing the existing Gatehouse, will create the right impression of Kent Science Park for the 1,000 people . who work here and the many suppliers and businesses who visit the park every day."

Brian Lloyd, senior planner with Kent CPRE, said the first expansion proposal was put forward in 2006.

"The inspector who reported on that enquiry rejected the proposal for a six hectare expansion of the site, his view being that he felt there was still opportunity within the confines of the science park as it currently exists.

So we obviously want to look at those proposals to see how they differ from what the inspector rejected."

Asked about a possible link road to the M2, Mr Lloyd said: "As we understand it it's linked to a much larger expansion of the park which would be in association with some significant housing development, something in the order of 4,500-5,000 dwellings.

"But it's a small expansion which wouldn't involve that level of infrastructure, so we shall see how they are proposing to get access to the site or get access to allow the expansion to happen."