Discovery Park chiefs reject offer to bid for £5.3m loan from Kent County Council

Discovery Park

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

Company bosses have refused to bid for a loan worth more than £5million for a major development at Discovery Park in Sandwich.

The Midas Group has rejected the chance to apply for a £5.3m loan from Kent County Council (KCC), which would have been used to support a residential project and several commercial schemes at Sandwich’s Discovery Park.

KCC was allocated the cash from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (SELEP) Growing Places Fund.

It was hoped the cash would support the delivery of 500 new homes, a 75-bedroom Travelodge and petrol station through key infrastructure works, such as a new spine road.

But, a Midas Group spokesman said:  “Discovery Park will be using an alternative financing approach for the further development of the site.

“We are very grateful to Kent County Council for its long-running support of our activities and continue to work closely with it for the optimal development of the region.”

The Sandwich business park bosses have yet to disclose further information at this stage.

Doubts have now been cast over whether KCC will be able to ring-fence the SELEP £5.3m cash for other projects in the wider Kent area.

Essex County Council is the accountable body for SELEP’s Growing Places Fund and Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for economic development, said they will have the final say.

His comments came during KCC’s growth, economic development and communities cabinet committee on November 28.

A discussion was anticipated to be made about Discovery Park’s application for the KCC-SELEP loan after a KCC paper detailing the move was published on November 21.

However, the council report was withdrawn at the eleventh hour when it became clear Discovery Park bosses would not bid alongside KCC for the Growing Places Fund.

Cllr Mark Dance (Con), KCC’s growth and economic development chairman, questioned whether the council will be able to retain the funds for other Kent schemes during last week’s meeting.

His counterpart, Cllr Whiting, said: “There are many good schemes being put forward in Kent that will be making the case for within SELEP to try and keep and retain the money in Kent.

“But that will be a matter for SELEP to take up.”