Expanding science park 'will create thousands of jobs'

22 Jul 2015

An average of around 10 jobs a month will be created over the next 20 years under plans to expand the Kent Science Park.

A masterplan was unveiled at a public exhibition attended by 45 people at the Woodstock clubhouse on Saturday.

The creation of 2,500 jobs is part of a proposed programme of demolition and rebuilding on its 500,000sq ft site and also development on unused parcels of land.

Some of this building would include between 300 and 400 new flats and houses built to the north of Broadoak Road for park employees.

It is hoped that by having on-site accommodation, traffic will be reduced on surrounding reads.

Finally, as reported last week, there is a plan to relocate Sittingbourne FC to the west of the park's entrance.

In the past 13 years, LaSalle Investment Management, which advised the park's pension fund owners on real estate investments, has put £37 million into building and infrastructure on the site.

The company hopes the latest spending proposals will ensure it is a nationally-important centre for research and development in life sciences.

LaSalle has also said the changes will be "diversifying job opportunities within Swale's economy, upskilhing the population and driving up average salaries".

Swale council leader, Cur Andrew Bowles (Con), previously said the park expanding would help build a stronger and more competitive local economy.

However, opposition leader, Cur Mike Baldock (Ukip), who sits on the planning committee, says although he could not comment on any specifics of the proposal at this stage, he believes the application must be looked at in the context of other developments around Sittingbourne.

He added: "Kent County Council has estimated the amount of housing in Kent will cost about £6 billion to meet infrastructure demands of the new residents. Four billion will come from the developers and central government, leaving a £2 billion shortfall."

Bapchlld Parish Council chairman and long-time critic of the park's expansion, Andy Hudson, said: "If you told people that building houses was a way of taking traffic off the road, I think they would have a problem understanding it.

"All the plans for job creation, they can do that, they already effectively have planning permission.

"The housing is a bit of opportunism - they are taking a pot shot at the local plan.

"It is exactly what is happening with Swanstree Avenue."

Rachel O'Donoqhue 
Sittingbourne News Extra