The announcement that the Romney Marsh area is to receive a share of the government's Getting Building Fund has been greeted with delight by Folkestone & Hythe District Council.
It will go towards the infrastructure to enable five hectares of council-owned land next to the Mountfield Road Industrial Estate in New Romney to be opened up for the building of business units, with the potential of creating more than 450 jobs.
The £3.5 million comes hard on the heels of the funding agreement reached in July to build a £2 million business centre on the industrial estate to provide co-working space designed to attract new companies to the area.
Council Leader 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."
Councillor David Wimble, F&HDC Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: "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."
The business centre has been made possible through Folkestone & Hythe District Council securing a funding package with the East Kent Spatial Development Company (EKSDC) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA) socio-economic programme.
It will enable growth of local businesses and provide co-working space for entrepreneurs who are now operating more from home and online. The purpose-built centre will also attract new companies bringing much-needed jobs to the area.
Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said: "This project has the immediate benefits of re-energising the local construction sector, bringing more jobs to the Marsh, and supports the Government's strategy to Get Britain Building."
Councillor Patricia Rolfe, Chair of the Romney Marsh Partnership and the New Romney Coastal Community Team, added: "This funding will help boost the local economy in the short and much longer term. A new business hub combined with this opportunity to open up an area of land for new business units demonstrates that forward thinking collaborative working can reap positive results"
F&HDC and East Kent Spatial Development Company (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.
Andrew van der Lem, Director of Publics Affairs and Government Relations for the NDA, said: "Helping develop sustainable communities around our sites is essential to the NDA's mission.
"This is a great opportunity for us to become involved in the exciting development of New Romney, in a way that will have a positive long lasting impact for the whole area."
Debbie Spalding of EKSDC said: "The EKSDC are delighted to be working in partnership with FHDC in bringing forward this development that supports enterprise and employment in the area."
The building of the centre is due to begin later in 2020.
Date published: 6 August 2020