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Private partners sought for Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone project

The Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone area
The Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone area

Blackpool Council has launched a search for developers to help drive forward the airport enterprise zone project.

It is inviting expressions of interest in the development of Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, as an industrial-led, mixed use employment site incorporating Blackpool Airport.

An artist's impression of how the enterprise zone could look

An artist's impression of how the enterprise zone could look

Private sector partners are being asked to register their interest in the 144 hectare site before November 30.

The process will eventually lead to the appointment of one or more preferred developers to drive forward the site and achieve the vision of making Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone a premier business location in the North West.

It said it wants partners that can provide a flexible approach to support the delivery of individual buildings and different character areas identified within the Enterprise Zone Masterplan.

These include a knowledge and business quarter, the airport zone, an innovation gateway, a business hub off Amy Johnson Way, an industrial heart with mixed advanced manufacturing, light industrial and logistics, plus mixed commercial space and a sports area.

An artist's impression of how the enterprise zone could look

An artist's impression of how the enterprise zone could look

The Enterprise Zone is part of a wider £1bn regeneration programme for Blackpool and is already playing a critical part in attracting the inward investment needed for Blackpool’s future development with a focus on broadening and improving the commercial property offer available on the Fylde Coast.

Coun Mark Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Economic Development said: “We have no fixed view as to the best partnership approach to adopt and have the scope to work alongside several delivery partners, therefore we wish to consider and explore a number of high level proposals.

“These may cover either the entire Enterprise Zone, the operational airport or a combination of the main Enterprise Zone elements such as The Airport Business Park and The Common Edge Enhanced Capital Allowance area.”

A masterplan has been was prepared earlier this year and phase one is now under way, including the provision of a new eastern gateway access and the creation of a new sports village.
Blackpool Council recently allocated £28.8m to support the initial enabling infrastructure which will open up a range of opportunities over the next three years and support the ambition of the Enterprise Zone to host up to 5,000 new jobs, 140 new businesses and attract £300m of private sector investment over its 25 year lifespan.

The Enterprise Zone offers occupiers two mutually exclusive financial incentives, up to 100 per cent business rates relief for five years and enhanced capital allowances up to €125m first year relief, each subject to qualifying criteria and available till March 2022 and November 2023 respectively.

Coun Smith added: “It is important to maximise the benefit of these early year incentives to create a strong, positive momentum in the site and building on the initial early developments that have already taken place.

"These have already attracted over 650 jobs since the commencement of the Enterprise Zone and have generated a pipeline of bespoke development enquiries that we are keen
to bring to fruition.”

But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the opposition on Blackpool Council said: "A fully integrated partner should have been sourced and recognised when the council purchased the airport site and there should have been full engagement from the very beginning especially in the development of the Airport.

"I have been calling for the council to engage with partners from the very start of this project and it would seem that they now realise they just haven't got the skills or wherewithal to develop the Enterprise Zone themselves.

"I am also concerned as to how slowly this zone is progressing. It's a fluid environment and business needs change quickly. Infrastructures designed today may not be fit for purpose down the line and the last thing we want to see on this site are huge logistics warehouses that only create a handful of jobs."