Published: 06:00, 07 August 2020
A staggering £3.5million investment is on its way to Kent to help create a new business centre and 700 jobs.
The cash will go towards the Romney Marsh Employment Hub, set to be built on land near the Household Waste Recycling Centre at the Mountfield Road Industrial Estate in New Romney, already home to dozens of other firms.
The hub was granted planning permission last year by Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC).
In total, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has dedicated £3,536,466 for the project.
It is said to be part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's "plans to build, build, build", with the money coming from the government’s new Getting Building Fund.
This fund totals £900 million for a range of ‘shovel ready’ local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next.
Mr Johnson announced the new fund in his speech on ‘A New Deal for Britain’ in Dudley in June.
The fund's aim is to enable local areas to invest in priority infrastructure projects, driving up local economic growth and jobs.
The nuclear industry at Dungeness is one of the biggest employers on the Marsh, but the current decommissioning of Dungeness A power station and the planned closure of Dungeness B in 2028 will inevitably lead to job losses.
But the new investment means 20 new businesses will be able to set up at the purpose built hub before then and "bring up employment and income".
As the land - which is five hectares in size - is already owned by FHDC, the plans meet the PM’s ‘shovel ready’ criteria, and construction of the business centre is expected to start in the autumn.
MP Damian Collins worked with FHDC and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to secure the funding.
He said: "I believe in the future of the nuclear industry at Dungeness, and will continue to campaign for the option of new generation Small Modular Reactors (SMEs) on the existing site, as well as supporting an extension to the operating life of Dungeness B, subject to regulatory approval.
"However the announcement means that in addition to these, this new Romney Marsh Employment Hub will support the creation of 700 new jobs for the area.
"This is the start of an exciting new chapter for Romney Marsh, part of the nationwide effort to Get Britain Building and level up the economy."
FHDC leader Cllr David Monk said: "To say we are pleased that our bid was successful is an under-statement, we are absolutely delighted!
"This funding will enable the service road, drainage and utilities to be installed on the land which had been zoned for employment use.
"It follows the agreement reached to build the business centre and the investment brings the prospect of hundreds of new jobs to an area where they will be much needed following the closure of the Dungeness nuclear power station."
The business centre was originally made possible through FHDC securing a funding package with the East Kent Spatial Development Company (EKSDC) and the NDA's socio-economic programme.
Both FHDC and EKSDC are contributing equally to the development by each funding £735,000 of the cost.
The NDA grant is meeting £500,000 of the cost of the construction of the centre and providing a further £205,238 to allow a business adviser to be based in the hub for four years to support local businesses.
Cllr David Wimble, FHDC cabinet member for economic development, added: "This investment is very, very welcome and with the funding agreement reached for the business hub it is such good news not just for New Romney, but the whole of the Marsh and shows the continued support of both the council and Magnox to our rural district."