Published: 12:30, 15 November 2016
The owners of one of Kent’s most successful science parks have sold their business as they concentrate on plans to build on the former Manston airport.
Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave are selling their shareholding in Discovery Park in Sandwich to investment company Discovery Park Estates Limited.
The North East pair bought the site in 2012 shortly after Pfizer announced plans to dramatically scale back their operations on the site, costing thousands of jobs.
The business estate has since become a leading science and technology park, growing from five businesses on site to more than 150 companies employing 2,400 people.
The management team at Discovery Park will remain the same, including managing director Paul Barber, finance director Kevin Howes and leasing director Anna Stone.
Mr Barber said: “When the previous investors acquired the site in 2012 it was always the intention that once the business park had moved onto a sound footing they would move on to new ventures.
“The success of the site has been such that we have reached this stage perhaps a year ahead of schedule.
“The future is bright with the new shareholders determined to continue the growth.”
Mr Cartner and Mr Musgrave will continue to be shareholders of Parkserve Ltd, the company which manages the site on a day-to-day basis.
Their sale of estate, along with fellow shareholder Palmer Capital, means they will now concentrate their efforts on building 2,500 homes, leisure facilities and commercial space on the former Manston airport site.
“When the previous investors acquired the site in 2012 it was always the intention that once the business park had moved onto a sound footing they would move on to new ventures..." - Paul Barber, Discovery Park
The project, known as Stone Hill Park, is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs.
Mr Musgrave and Cartner also own a business park near Middlesbrough named Wynyard Park.
Stone Hill Park spokesman Ray Mallon said: “Discovery Park, along with Wynyard Park in the North-East, are prime examples of how this company can take faltering sites and transform their fortunes, creating real, lasting jobs and building quality homes.
"There is a clear parallel with Stone Hill Park.
“We are about to enter a very important phase in the regeneration of Stone Hill Park.
"We have carried out extensive public consultation and our planning application for a mixed-use site that will bring much-needed homes, jobs and leisure facilities to the area is currently being considered by Thanet District Council.”
The new owners of Discovery Park have pledged to continue with plans to refurbish key buildings, including the so-called Building 500, where many companies are expected to locate in the near future.
Construction work is also close to finishing on nearly 70,000sq ft of manufacturing space.
The new owners will also continue with plans to build a £160 million biomass renewable energy plant.
Discovery Park Estates is owned by directors Bernard Spitz and Simcha Green.
Mr Spitz said: “We are delighted to have acquired Discovery Park.
“The site is recognised globally as a cutting-edge hub of science, business and technology and that is something we intend to develop even further in the future.
"We also fully intend to implement the previous owners plans to develop other facilities on the site as soon as possible.”