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Another £3.7 million of public money to be spent improving Rochester Airport

By KentOnline reporter

A further £3.7 million of public money has been granted to the Innovation Park Medway project at Rochester Airport.

Voting members of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) agreed earlier today to allocate central government cash which will be used to build a new access road and other infrastructure.

It is hoped the works will allow businesses to move into 38,500m² of commercial floor space, and also pave the way for more of the site to be utilised.

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Rochester Airport
Rochester Airport

Medway Council believes 1,365 "new highly-skilled jobs in engineering and technology" will be created at Innovation Park Medway by 2030/31, with “15 serious inquiries” from interested parties already registered.

SELEP capital programme manager Rhiannon Mort said: “Within the business case, it identifies a potential further £45 million of private sector investment in the site.

“That is, as yet, not confirmed but it’s based on the level of interest so far in the site and to actually build out the commercial space.

Medway Council believes the project can create 1,365 jobs
Medway Council believes the project can create 1,365 jobs

“The bid is for infrastructure work – an access road and utility works – to support the site, which would then hopefully attract businesses to locate at the site.”

It follows the go-ahead for the council’s plans to redevelop the airfield – phase one of the project – which itself has been allocated £4.4 million from SELEP. To date, only £400,000 of that money has been spent.

The latest grant to be agreed is subject to the planning permission for phase one not falling foul to any potential judicial review, and a construction contractor also being appointed by the end of March.

Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con), who attended the meeting as a SELEP accountability board member, said the latter issue would be addressed this month and that he was “confident” all timelines would be adhered to.

What the Rochester Airport will look like if plans are given the go-ahead
What the Rochester Airport will look like if plans are given the go-ahead

In a statement issued after the meeting, a SELEP spokesman said: “This is an important project for Medway and one that we have supported since it first came to us for consideration for Local Growth Fund contributions.

“We will continue to monitor progress on the project and if no confirmation has been received by April 1 that those two conditions have been met, our funding decision will be reviewed by the accountability board on April 12.”

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