Enterprise Zone expansion recommended for approval

By Tim Aldred

07 Dec 2023

Blackpool Airport EZ Masterplan Visual Dec 2023

Further expansion to Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, one of the most successful in the UK, is expected to go ahead as the council recommended it for approval.

The news comes as it has been announced that the EZ has now reached the half-way mark in creating the 5,000 jobs laid out in early proposals.

Since 2016, the EZ has attracted 2,500 new jobs from new businesses relocating to Blackpool, as well as local businesses benefiting from a range of growth initiatives and business rates relief.

Now, a report to Blackpool Council’s Executive has recommended for approval plans to grow the Enterprise Zone by creating two new developments amid a total £84m investment.

Councillors are set to grant approval to build a new road providing a second access to Amy Johnson Way, opening 10.5 hectares of land for new and growing businesses at Eastern Gateway. Work on the new road connecting to Common Edge Road is expected to start early next year and completed before March 2026, as a requirement of the £7.5m grant from the Blackpool Town Deal.

The report also sets out plans to create a new high tech business park called Silicon Sands, centred around a series of data centres powered by renewable energy.

Silicon Sands would attract new businesses which require ultra-fast internet speeds, such as advanced manufacturing, virtual reality and esports, making the most of the CeltixConnect-2 internet cable, which carries up to one third of the world’s internet traffic via Blackpool Airport. The cable sends data from Blackpool to New York under the sea in less than 0.064 seconds and offers significant benefits for businesses that need ultrafast and reliable internet. 

The development would also position Blackpool as a leader for green data, with the data centres powered by renewable energy while also being liquid immersion cooled to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Any excess heat created from the data centres would then be reused to heat surrounding buildings in a district heat network.

Plans to build a first data centre at Silicon Sands, as well as Blackpool’s first solar farm and a battery storage by Blackpool Airport, will be progressed, along with the relocation of some airport administration buildings. Plans have already been submitted to build a new access road to Blackpool Airport and new hangars.

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for Levelling Up (Place) at Blackpool Council said: “Blackpool Enterprise Zone is one of the best performing Enterprise Zones in the country and these numbers show how it is fast becoming a very desirable location for growing and relocating businesses. New jobs and businesses are creating more opportunities for our local people and are a big part of our plans to make Blackpool better.

“We have ambitious plans to create even more jobs in the near future. This involves attracting businesses by building a new road which will open up the business park, as well as relieving congestion on Common Edge Road and Amy Johnson Way in the long term.

“Our plans at Silicon Sands show that we can make Blackpool a leading location for high tech jobs of the future, while tackling the climate emergency at the same time. Having data centres with ultra-fast connections as part of the Enterprise Zone will help us stand out as a leading destination for growing technology companies. This will bring more high-quality, future proof jobs to the town and increase opportunities for our local people.”

Enjoyed this? Read more from Tim Aldred

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