As the Enterprise Zone Team at Blackpool Council continues to ramp up the pace of development as the New Year approaches, a quick look back to 2018 highlights some key milestones and a build-up of momentum that will carry the project forward into 2019.
The Enterprise Zone Delivery Team was strengthened at Blackpool Council with the appointment of a new marketing officer, a new website blackpoolez.com went live and new road signage was erected around the site to improve visibility and awareness of the opportunities at the Enterprise Zone.
More than 700 jobs have been supported to date on the Enterprise Zone, 248 of these in the last 12 months. The Enterprise Zone has welcomed 53 new businesses to the site in total and 2018 welcomed new occupiers including TM Legal Services, Fylde Coast ARC, PLH Medical, John Jackson Bacon, McDental, Open Utilities, Tiss Ltd, Parts Alliance and Battersby Construction to name just a few.
The foundations were set for unlocking new developments and providing infrastructure early in the summer with the approval of the Masterplan and Delivery Plan. £28.8m was secured to finance the Phase One enabling works on the site including plans for a new eastern access road and the relocation and enhancement of the Common Edge Road Playing Fields.
BWB Consultants, an engineering and environmental consultancy, have been carrying out detailed highways assessments on behalf of Blackpool Council in the last quarter of 2018 and the findings will help to shape and determine the full planning application that will be submitted in mid 2019.
Local architects Cassidy and Ashton have also recently been appointed to seek outline planning consent for the phase one area and this outline application will be submitted in February 2019, to Fylde and Blackpool Councils with a decision expected in June 2019. Work on the new eastern gateway road is expected to start later in 2019 with the road anticipated to be open in 2020.
Cllr Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration said, “It is key that we start work on the road as early as possible so that we can unlock potential new development sites and start to fulfil local business growth requirements.
“The popularity of the existing employment areas, namely Blackpool Business Park and Squires Gate Industrial Estate remains high, with both estates trading near full capacity and very little available commercial property stock for sale or lease. We want to be able to support and retain local businesses by providing new larger footprint commercial units, boost the local economy and create new jobs for the local community.”
Cllr Smith continued, “Over the past 12 months there has been a significant increase in the amount of enquiries about the opportunities available at the Enterprise Zone. We are currently in initial discussions with interested parties looking to build new units on the last few available third party-owned plots.”
The majority of the new occupiers on the park have been growing local companies which have been accommodated within existing third party owned premises. However the enterprise zone has seen six new build developments since April 2016, the most recent being the 20,000 sq ft Dakota Court, in part occupied by the developer AC Electrical who brought 50 new jobs to the site in March 2018. A further new 20,000 sq ft unit for Fylde Coast Accident Repair Centre (ARC) will be open by the end of January 2019 and a new electricity generation facility will also be completed in the first quarter of 2019. A further planning application for a private sector speculative development for 12 industrial units is currently with the council planning department for consideration in the New Year.
Blackpool Council will look to support any new business choosing to relocate to the Enterprise Zone as much as possible, through the incentives available through business rates relief up to £275,000 over five years and enhanced capital allowances for new plant and machinery up to £125m in the first year. The council can also offer business advice in the way of mentoring, start-up advice, traineeships and access to the £100m Business Loans Fund.
York Aviation presented its independent report and airport feasibility study to Blackpool Council in Autumn 2018. The report outlined recommendations for the future development of the airport which was approved by Blackpool Council in November. It identifies that future business focus should be on executive/corporate aviation and general aviation and pilot training activities, with retention of the current Spirit Contract to support off shore gas production crucial to the long term sustainable future of the airport.
York has proposed indicative revised layout options for the operational airfield facilities to enable the release of land along Squires Gate frontage for EZ related development and these have been incorporated in the revised version of the Masterplan and the relocation plans will continue to be developed over the next few years.
SGAOL (the airport operations company) is now developing a detailed operational business plan on the basis of the York recommendations and commitment has already been made to renew the Instrument Landing System (ILS), purchase an additional fire vehicle and the appointment of two new air traffic control staff.
Cllr Smith said, “Blackpool Enterprise Zone is growing from strength to strength and we hope to see plenty more development activity on site over the next 12 months, both the start on site of council-led infrastructure and enabling works, and individual private sector development and expansion.”