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Discovery Park Enterprise Zone could incorporate Manston airport site

The government is to consider extending the existing Discovery Park Enterprise Zone in Sandwich to include the Manston airport site.

Ministers have confirmed they are considering the extension in an effort to boost jobs and investment in the area. The former Labour administration on Thanet Council floated the idea of extending the current zone, which was backed by Kent County Council.

Enterprise Zone status was granted to the former Pfizer site in 2012 after the global pharmaceutical company announced it was withdrawing the majority of its business from the area. The site has since been rebranded as Discovery Park and is now home to over 100 companies, many of them specialists in life sciences.

As part of an enterprise zone, businesses can qualify for tax breaks, including exemptions from the business rates and low cost loans, as well as benefitting from customer connections, enhanced infrastructure and simplified planning.

The expansion of the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone could deliver an estimated 13,500 square metres of new floor space that could deliver more than 1,000 jobs – welcome news to groups campaigning to retain the airport, as it could attract aviation-related businesses.

The Department for Transport has appointed PwC to review Thanet Council's decision not to pursue the prospect of teaming up with a suitable indemnity partner for a compulsory purchase of the site. They are to report back to the government in May.

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