Plans for a new enterprise zone for the Fylde Coast could be the final piece in the jigsaw that unifies hi-tech industry in the area for the future.
The body responsible for enterprise zones in the county, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), confirmed it had submitted the bid to the government for the Hillhouse site at Thornton.
If given the go-ahead it would link with the proposed site at Blackpool airport and the two BAE Systems based sites at Warton and Samlesbury.
Each would benefit from a range of incentives to attract firms to settle there including reduced business rates and each would have its own specialisms but all would be linked closely said the head of the LEP Edwin Booth.
The 138 hectare Hillhouse site, which is already occupied by more than 40 businesses including Victrex, AGC Chemicals, Addsion Engineering and Vinnolit, is on the site of a former ICI manufacturing plant and has been a centre of advanced chemical manufacture since the 1950s.
Mr Booth said under the new proposals the LEP and local partners plans to build on Hillhouse’s hi-tech chemical and polymer heritage, but will also target firms within the wider energy and advanced manufacturing sectors to complement Lancashire’s overarching Enterprise Zone strategy.
In terms of employment growth, the LEP forecasts that if adopted as an Enterprise Zone the Hillhouse site could potentially double the number of local jobs within the next 10 to 20 years.
Edwin Booth, LEP chairman said: “If the Enterprise Zone bid to government is successful, the Hillhouse site has the potential to accelerate the growth of a world class chemical and polymer sector cluster and create thousands of new jobs in the process. However we also recognise that sectors like energy, chemicals and advanced manufacturing are increasingly starting to converge, and with our Enterprise Zone strategy we are seeking to cross-fertilise expertise and innovation across all our key sectors to develop collaborative clusters with a fully integrated supply chain.
“This is what will give Lancashire a competitive advantage going forward.
“In addition the investment in all our Enterprise Zones is fully aligned with the LEP’s other major regeneration projects and economic drivers in place across the county. This is an exciting and transformational time for Lancashire, and the LEP.”