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Government proposal to extend Discovery Park Enterprise Zone to…

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THE government has outlined plans to add Manston airport and Betteshanger to the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone.

The status was granted to the then-Pfizer site in August 2011 after the pharmaceutical giant pulled most of its business out of Sandwich.

The status, which gives five years of tax breaks potentially worth £21.4 million, access to simplified planning rules and super-fast broadband for new businesses, is now planned to be extended to the airport and Betteshanger business park under measures announced by the Chancellor in the Budget this week.

Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt said: “Enterprise zones are driving forward our economy, creating thousands of jobs and attracting billions of pounds in private investment.

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“Extending the programme as part of our long-term economic plan means we can build on that success, allowing hundreds more companies to benefit from the top-class business incentives and world-class infrastructure that these thriving business hubs offer.

“It will mean thousands more jobs for hard-working people and a real boost to local business.”

The plan would give Discovery Park an estimated 13,500 square metres of new floor space that, the government says, could deliver more than 1,000 jobs

The plan is part of a government announcement that it will be extending seven of the UK’s 24 existing enterprise zones.

The changes are likely to start from April 2016.

The government has also appointed PwC to review the decisions taken so far on the future of Manston airport.

The Department for Transport made the decision to appoint an independent consultant after Thanet council concluded it could not find a suitable indemnity partner for a compulsory purchase of the site.

PwC will now be expected to report back to the department in May, roughly a year after the airport closed its doors.

Transport minister John Hayes said: “The independent consultancy we have appointed will strengthen the ability of Thanet District Council to find the right deal to secure Manston’s future.

“I am determined to deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment that the government does all it can to support the people of Thanet, to create more jobs and to boost the local economy.”

Dr Beau Webber, chairman of the Save Manston Airport group, said the zone could be applied to a working airfield.

He said: “These things have to be announced at budget time, so they have the option of doing it later if Manston falls through as an airport, or of doing it as an aviation relate Enterprise Zone – SMA have no problem with that.

“When Manston is again a functioning airport we could have an Aviation Related Enterprize Zone around it – that would be a real help for high-tech aviation related businessess like AvMan.”

MP Roger Gale said the announcement was in line with plans to keep Manston as a working airfield.

He said: “Penny Mordaunt`s comments in relation to Enterprise Zones are general. The government has been consistent in its approach – which Laura Sandys and I discussed with Michael Fallon (then Minister of State for Business) a year ago that it would consider extending the Discovery Park Zone (without additional funding) to embrace Manston for aviation-related industries only.

“This is entirely in line with the Prime Minister`s personal and expressed support for Manston as an airport and not as a business park.”

A request for comment has been made to Discovery Park.

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