Fylde coast enterprise zone set for step forward

Aerial view of the former ICI Hillhouse site now under development by NPL Estates Ltd and  known as Hillhouse International Business Park.
Aerial view of the former ICI Hillhouse site now under development by NPL Estates Ltd and known as Hillhouse International Business Park.
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A scheme set to generate thousands of jobs and attract hi-tech businesses to the Fylde Coast is to take a significant step forward next week.

A scheme set to generate thousands of jobs and attract hi-tech businesses to the Fylde Coast is to take a significant step forward next week.

A document setting out the ground rules for the Hillhouse Enterprise zone at Thornton is to be considered by Wyre Council at its cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

If approved, as recommended by council officers, the legal document or memorandum of understanding, will go to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for signatures.

The team behind the enterprise zone, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Wyre Council, NPL Estates which owns the land and the Blackpool and Fylde Coast Economic Development Company are currently assessing bids from organisations to put together an official masterplan for the huge 341-acre site.

It is based on the former ICI chemicals site and currently has 40 businesses located there, mainly linked to the hi-tech plastics, polymers and chemicals sectors.

It is expected that it could double the number of jobs there over a 20-year period, making it a hub for hi-tech chemicals and complementing the other enterprise zones at Blackpool Airport and Warton.

Coun Peter Murphy, cabinet member with responsibility for economic development at Wyre Council, today said: “This will be a big step forward. It is a formality which has to be completed.

“Then, once the partners for the masterplan are selected and the plan is formulated, it will be all systems go for the enterprise zone.”

In the report to Wyre Council, it states that around £16.6m of infrastructure works would have to be carried out on the site to allow expansion into an enterprise zone.
 This would be for such things as an electricity substation, distribution, water supply, a new road and bridge.

Coun Murphy said: “There will be an initial outlay but that would be recouped and the total amount generated from the zone would far outweigh that.

“It is a fantastic project. We tried five years ago with a bid but were unsuccessful so we were delighted when it was granted. It will drive the economy of the area and fit in with the economic plans for the future of Wyre. I know that the land owners NPL Estates have already had interest from fiver or six new companies about moving there and once things get moving we could see progress reasonably quickly.”