East Kent regeneration blueprint unveiled

Discovery Park
Image caption East Kent will need to build on the regeneration of the former Pfizer site in Sandwich, says the report

Political leaders in East Kent have joined forces to establish a blueprint to help the recession-hit region's recovery.

Among the priorities identified are better use of Manston Airport and regeneration of the region's seafronts.

They also envisage making Canterbury a "knowledge city" as well as targeting an area near Ashford for new housing.

The group is looking for "creative" solutions to expected funding problems.

The report, Open For Growth, from the East Kent Regeneration Board, aims to set out a co-ordinated, coherent approach to kick-start the economy in one of the hardest-hit parts of the South East.

East Kent's population - already more than 600,000 - grew by 8% in the first decade of the millennium.

Port expansion plan

But thousands of jobs have gone since the economic downturn began in 2008, including almost 2,000 at the giant Pfizer complex in Sandwich.

The leaders of Shepway, Thanet, Dover, Canterbury and Ashford councils, as well as Kent County Council, want to build on the positive developments already in line for the Enterprise Zone by removing constraints to progress in other parts of the region.

They have produced a 12-point plan for priorities, which they believe would make best use of the limited resources available to transform the region's economic fortunes.

They include:

  • A science and technology park at the University of Kent in Canterbury
  • Building on the Discovery Park regeneration at Pfizer's Sandwich site
  • Expansion and re-development of Dover's port, town centre and waterfront
  • Improving the seafronts at Folkestone, Margate and Ramsgate
  • Development of Manston and Lydd airports
  • A new power station at Dungeness, and
  • Building nearly 6,000 homes at Chilmington Green, near Ashford

The councils say expansion of airport facilities and upgrading the A2/M2 corridor - by no means certainties - and the High Speed 1 rail link to London are key to their blueprint.

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