New business park and units at Manston expected to create 290 jobs after EKO contract exchange

How the new business park could look

A new business park and additional units being created at Manston are expected to create almost 300 jobs.

Contracts have been exchanged between Manyweathers Properties and East Kent Opportunities (EKO) LLP  to create Maple Leaf Business Park, and development is already under way on this mix of three- and two-storey workshops and offices.  Manyweathers Properties expect this to create 150 jobs in 45 workshop units, plus 80 more in the offices.

The park is under construction and expected to be substantially complete and occupied by Spring 2018.

A number of local firms are signed up to relocate to Manston Business Park.

Manyweathers also received approval this month for a further 22 workshops and ancillary office units on another part of Manston Business Park, creating a further 60 jobs.

Some 101 new units, totalling 9,572m2 of workspace, have been developed and sold at the site since August 2014.

Manyweathers Properties Ltd completed and sold/leased The Oaks Business Park, off Invicta Way, in June 2017.

What is East Kent Opportunities (EKO) LLP

EKO was established as a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) in 2008 to incorporate Kent County Council’s landholdings at Manston Park and Eurokent and Thanet District Council’s landholdings at Eurokent.

The aim was to push development at Manston Business Park and Eurokent.

Under EKO  the economic returns and liabilities are split on a 50:50 basis between Kent County Council and Thanet District Council.

KCC and TDC contributed 38 acres of land each to EKOLLP. The land was valued for stamp duty land tax (SDLT) at £5.5m (KCC contribution) and £4.5m (TDC contribution)

Liabilities included paying for the New Haine Road, with Thanet council’s share standing at £2,698,311 plus interest due for repayment, after several extensions, by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

Loans from KCC’s regeneration fund and the European Regional Development Fund were also used for the schemes.

At the end of March 2016 EKO was recorded as having fixed assets of £13.5 million and £398,159 in the bank. However, a  notice for compulsory strike off was issued on May 30 this year with intention for the company to be dissolved by July.  This was reversed just days later, on June 3, following an updated confirmation statement.

Eurokent

At Eurokent EKO has sold 22 acres of its serviced land for residential development to the Homes and Communities Agency, co-ordinating that sale with another 11 acres of adjoining land to create a 33 acre site delivering more than 350 homes. Plans for the first phase of 54 homes were submitted last month and are awaiting a decision.

EKO LLP and Rosefarm Estates Ltd (which  owned the northern area of Eurokent) originally submitted a joint mixed use planning application for Eurokent in Autumn 2011. This was refused permission in October 2013 by Thanet District Council’s planning committee, on the basis that the land was designated in the local plan as solely for employment use.

The decision was overturned on appeal by then Secretary of State Eric Pickles, meaning the green light was given for new homes and commercial and retail space.

A land swap at the site has also aided the relocation of Laleham Gap school from separate Margate areas to the land off New Haine Road. A £14.5million development of 70 homes will be built on the school’s former Northdown Park Road site.

‘Investment’

Thanet council leader Chris Wells said: “EKO’s successful investment in housing and jobs is essential to maintain thriving and sustainable communities in Thanet. The EKO partnership proves we can deliver solid projects which attract companies to locate here, catering for the needs of residents, both now and in the future.

“Work is also about to start on a £14.5million development of housing association homes in Cliftonville as a result of an EKO land-swap deal. Orbit has acquired the land to build a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes for sale, shared ownership and affordable rent. The first homes will be available in late 2018 and are being delivered in partnership with McCulloch Homes.

“Laleham Gap school educates pupils with special educational requirements up to the age of 18. The school was operating on three sites, and desperately needed to relocate to a single campus.

“The Education Funding Agency, allocated funding for the construction of a new school, subject to identification of an appropriate site. EKO secured the EFA funding for the new school by agreeing to swap their site in Ozengell Place, Ramsgate, a 5.5 Acre parcel of Eurokent land owned by EKO.”

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Mark Dance added: “I am really pleased to see job-creation and housing developments which will benefit Thanet. It is particularly pleasing to see the facilitation of a new school has also now enabled 70 much needed family homes in Cliftonville.”

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