Enterprise Zone success for Blackpool Airport

The Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company has welcomed a decision to extend Lancashire’s Enterprise Zone to include Blackpool Airport.

Blackpool Fylde Wure Economic Development Company sqThe decision was formally announced by the chancellor 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 – could support as many as 3,000 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.

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

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.”

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 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. The Greenbelt status of some areas of the airport site is unaffected.