The team behind Kent Medical Campus in Maidstone has called on the Government to back the county, arguing it will play an important part in delivering a globally important medical and healthcare tech-corridor stretching all the way from Kent to Cambridge, and support the development of a brain belt around London.
It comes after the Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement proposed an additional £2bn for R&D support, and £1.3bn on road infrastructure, including £110m to fund an Expressway linking Oxford and Cambridge to benefit the economies of both cities.
Gary Watson of JLL, the property agents and advisers for Kent Medical Campus, said: “The Government recognises we need to reduce the productivity gap with our global competitors. Investment in infrastructure and R&D funding support for high-growth companies can help achieve that, as will the Enterprise Zone status recently granted to places such as Kent Medical Campus.
“Kent has a major role to play as part of a brain belt circling London and mustn’t be overlooked.”
Although, the UK was recently rated the world’s seventh most competitive economy, it was placed only 24th for infrastructure. According to the OECD, R&D funding amounts to only 1.7% of GDP, compared to 2.7% in the US, 2.8% in Germany and 3.6% in Japan.
The Chancellor has said that £683m from the Local Growth Fund is being allocated to Local Enterprise Partnerships in the South East, South West and London, with an announcement expected shortly.
Recognising that Kent Medical Campus will be home to 4,000 employees when fully occupied, a bid has been submitted via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, backed by Maidstone Borough Council, for funding from the Local Growth Fund for further local road improvements.
Gary Watson added: “We await the announcement of the allocation of funds to SELEP with interest. If, as we hope, our bid is successful, the local highways works will help improve access to Maidstone and Kent Medical Campus from the M20.
“We’re doing our bit by building a new £1.5m road to open up the site and create a major centre for high-value employment for Maidstone and the surrounding area.”
The new road will enable Cygnet Health Care, one of the UK’s largest independent providers of mental health and social care pathways, to start work on a planned £18m, 65 bed hospital.
Kent Medical Campus’ Enterprise Zone status comes into effect from April 2017, offering financial incentives for businesses moving to the site, and the team responsible for promoting it to would-be tenants has seen a considerable rise in interest as a result.