EZ confirmed for Blackpool

James Wharton, minister for local growth and the Northern Powerhouse, has awarded Blackpool Airport with Enterprise Zone status, bringing tax breaks for new occupiers and fast-tracked planning.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership first submitted a bid for the EZ to government in January this year, and its plans were publicly backed by Chancellor George Osborne in the March budget.

The LEP predicted the enterprise zone could support 140 new businesses, develop 1.8m sq ft of commercial floorspace, and help create 3,000 new jobs by 2030.

The bid also outlined the potential the site had as a specialist energy hub, linking to a proposed Lancashire Energy HQ development at the airport being led by Blackpool & Fylde College. Plans for this are due to be submitted shortly. Other sectors targeted are food and drink and professional services.

Blackpool Airport itself, which is owned by Balfour Beatty, ceased to operate regular flights in October 2014, but continues to support a number of specialist operators and private aviation activities.

Edwin Booth, chairman of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “We were given strong indications earlier this year that the Blackpool Airport site would become Lancashire’s second Enterprise Zone so it’s great we’ve been finally given the official green light to proceed. As an EZ specialising in energy, with the chance to develop other key sectors, the site offers immense commercial potential for both Blackpool and Lancashire as a whole.

The Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone will be the second to be created in Lancashire. The first covering 147 hectares and incorporating sites at Warton and Samlesbury, has a specialisation in Aerospace and advanced engineering and manufacturing.

The LEP has also bid for an Enterprise Zone site at Thorton-Cleveleys. Based around the Hillhouse Business Park, the 138 hectare site has a long history within the chemical sector and, if approved, will build on this heritage and target companies active within the polymer, textile and related industries.

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