A false economy

31 Jan 2011
Evidence provided by Kent Science Park, which Swale Borough Council has used to attempt to justify development options in the Core Strategy document which will ultimately be the subject of a full public enquiry, claims that the park has grown by a massive 14% over the last 2 years. KSP claims that it receives over 900 enquires per year, suggesting that many cannot be accommodated due to lack of suitable space.

However, in the same evidence Kent Science Park also acknowledges that they have neither seen any growth of jobs or tenants in that same 2 year period. According to some of the evidence jobs are in decline.

If the lack of suitable space is a serious issue we might draw attention to the Phase 1 technology units given permission four and half years ago which are only 50% occupied, or the Phase 2 technology units given permission 15 months ago, not yet started, or the 4 hectare expansion so desperately needed for Ecologia’s expansion not yet started, or the Arrivals Centre given permission two and half years ago not yet started.

These four proposed developments add up to a staggering 16,303m² of suitable space. Based on the average take up over the last seven years this un-built or under utilised accommodation would not be fully occupied for 19 years. Additionally, there is another 12,000 to 18,000m2 of unused space within the site defined by the security fence.

The evidence provided to Swale Borough Council by Kent Science Park suggests options for expansion ranging from 3,000m² to 8,000m² of space which equates to between 100 and 267 jobs per annum. However the average growth of jobs over the last 7 years at KSP is just 28.5 per annum or 855m² of utilised space. Should the options in Swale Borough Council’s Core Strategy be based on what has occurred at KSP or should the options have regard to wild projections by KSP with consequential demand for financial funding from massive housing developments?