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Published: 18:13, 21 November 2019
| Updated: 19:22, 21 November 2019
More than £5 million could be spent supporting a major commercial and residential development at one of Europe's flagship science parks.
Around 500 new homes, a 75-bedroom Travelodge hotel, and a petrol station with a drive-through coffee shop, are set to be built at Sandwich's Discovery Park.
Kent County Council (KCC) is seeking to secure a £5.3m loan to support the delivery of the major East Kent development with key infrastructure works, such as a new spine road, before any construction takes place.
Sandwich deputy mayor Michael Holloway said: "Discovery Park is seen as an intrinsic part of Sandwich and any development is welcomed by the town in creating prosperity and new jobs."
KCC's growth, economic development and communities cabinet committee will meet at Maidstone County Hall in seven days' time to decide whether to back the loan move.
Around 3,500 people, working in 160 companies, are employed on the Discovery Park site, which is in the private ownership of the Midas Group.
The Midas Group has recently expressed interest in applying for a loan from KCC for key infrastructure works and the company has estimated the need for up to £5.3m.
"Discovery Park is seen as an intrinsic part of Sandwich and any development is welcomed by the town in creating prosperity and new jobs" - Michael Holloway
The Midas Group said construction of the Travelodge will start next week anda spokesman said: "We'll be announcing our decision on the KCC loan in due course."
KCC want to "ring-fence" an investment of £5.3m for the project from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership's Growing Places Fund, which totals £54.5m, a KCC paper states.
SELEP is made up of a coalition of businesses and councils who work together to attract major investment in the south east of England as well as drive economic growth in the region, which KCC is a member of.
A KCC paper states: "Developments at Discovery Park in the Dover district is an economic priority for both Kent and for the South East LEP.
"The site hosts a multi-business science campus with an international reputation as a centre of excellence for research and development."
However, a key decision will have to be taken by a KCC committee before any progress can be made because the estimated expenditure will be more than£1m.
KCC's growth and economic development committee will meet and decide whether to support it at Maidstone County Hall from 10am on November 29.
If approved, KCC's new cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), will be tasked with rubber-stamping the SELEP loan application next month.
More by this authorCiaran Duggan, local democracy reporter