News

Enterprise Zone success for Blackpool Airport

The Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company (BFW EDC) has today welcomed a decision to extend Lancashire’s Enterprise Zone to include Blackpool Airport

The decision was formally announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today during his budget speech and follows an application by the Lancashire Enterprise partnership, supported by the BFWEDC.

It is hoped the addition of Enterprise Zone status – which comes into effect in January 2016 – to this key employment site could support as many as 3000 new jobs over more than two decades to 2037.

Bev Robinson, Chair of BFW EDC said: “This is very positive news for the Fylde coast.

“Blackpool Airport is already an attractive site for potential investors. The Enterprise Zone status creates an even greater incentive for businesses to choose to invest on the Fylde coast which in turn creates employment opportunities.
EZ boundary – still subject to formal written confirmation
EZ boundary – still subject to formal written confirmation

‘’The EDC will now be working with all interested parties in order to achieve the maximum possible benefit for the region.”

Edwin Booth, Chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is very exciting news and I’m pleased that the Chancellor has been persuaded by our arguments.

“The site’s inclusion in the Enterprise Zone will support businesses in new sectors to grow alongside Blackpool’s existing industries, providing new jobs and a real boost to the local economy.”

Blackpool Council Chief Executive, Neil Jack, said: “This is tremendous news for Blackpool and is exactly in line with what the Council has said about the airport site all along; it is a perfect place for investment and job creation.

“It has excellent transport links by road, rail and, of course, by air and now brings the benefits of an Enterprise Zone which, we hope, will help encourage businesses to invest.

“In turn, we’re working with local training providers and educational establishments to give our local workforce the skills they will need jobs to seize these opportunities.” Allan Oldfield, Fylde Council Chief Executive, said: “The council was aware the application had been made in January and is delighted it has been a success.

“It will provide the opportunity for businesses to benefit from the advantages offered through Enterprise Zone status, attracting investment and jobs to the site.

“We are confident that the announcement will allow airport-related businesses to benefit as well as other sectors.”

Cllr Peter Murphy, Economic Portfolio Holder at Wyre Council, said: “We welcome any initiative that will bring jobs and investment to the Fylde Coast Peninsula”

Stewart Orrell, Managing Director of Economic Infrastructure at Balfour Beatty Investments, said: “We were delighted to hear today’s announcement and look forward to working closely with the LEP and BFWEDC as well as the councils of Blackpool, Fylde and Lancashire and other stakeholders as this opportunity continues to develop.

“We are committed to delivering sustainable economic development opportunities for Blackpool and the wider Fylde Coast.”

The zone will be divided into two areas. One will allow businesses to benefit from rate relief – the most common benefit locating a business on an Enterprise Zone brings – up to a maximum of £275,000 over a five year period for new businesses locating before May 2018. This is subject to certain qualifying criteria.

The other will allow businesses to benefit from Enhanced Capital Allowances (1) for investment in fixed plant and machinery for businesses who take occupation by March 2020.

Where businesses are already located within the Enterprise Zone area, there is no automatic right to rates relief or ECA, however, it can be applied where significant numbers of new jobs is being created or significant capital investment is taking place.

A programme board representing all key stakeholders including local councils, the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership, BFW EDC and the landowners will be established.

That board will report to the Lancashire LEP who will have ultimate responsibility for the delivery of the project.

While achieving Enterprise Zone status does not do anything in the immediate future to return commercial passenger flight to the site, it does strengthen the incentives for investment.

The runway will remain in place in full and there is clear stated intention from both Balfour Beatty and Blackpool Council to pursue commercial passenger flight opportunities.

Residents may see some physical changes to buildings at the site with old and unused areas altered or demolished, however, plans are not yet finalised.

The Greenbelt status of some areas of the airport site is unaffected. To contact the BFWEDC, call 01253 478729 or email Rob Green at rob@bfwedc.co.uk.