Minister checks in on Samlesbury enterprise zone

Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse James Wharton visited the Samlesbury, one of two sites making up the Lancashire Enterprise Zone, for a progress update.

The visit was hosted by the leader of Lancashire County Council Jennifer Mein and Graham Cowley, board members of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and representatives from BAE Systems.

Mr Wharton heard how the LEP is pursuing a 15-20 year development plan to deliver 4,000-6,000 jobs over two sites at Samlesbury and Warton. The LEP is actively engaging potential tenants interested in locating on the Enterprise Zone across Samlesbury and Warton, this included a promotional visit to the Paris Air Show in June 2015 to promote the EZ, supported by BAE Systems, UKTI and the North West Aerospace Alliance.

James Wharton said: “As part of our long-term economic plan we’re determined to back business across Lancashire and this Enterprise Zone offers real opportunities to create thousands of highly-skilled jobs for local people as part of the Northern Powerhouse.

“It’s good to see work underway at the Samlesbury site and hear how BAE’s new training academy will train apprentices that will bring big benefits for the defence industry.”

Overall, the LEP is delivering economic development through a £1bn investment programme which includes the programmes City Deal, Growth Deal, Growing Places and Boost Business Lancashire.

For the visit, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership provided an overview of progress at 72-hectare Samlesbury, including BAE Systems’ national training Academy via 3D visual fly-through of the facility. The Training Academy is due for completion in 2016 to train current and future BAE Systems employees as well as providing a level of training capacity for its supply chain.

Work by Lancashire County Council on the gateway to the first phase of development at Samlesbury, a new access road off the A59, will be completed in August 2016 and then followed by a further junction access from the A677 and a connecting spine road to the EZ. This is one of a number of significant highways infrastructure improvements by the council across the county.

The minister was also updated on progress at the nearby 75-hectare Warton EZ site where international businesses Accenture and Trescal have located creating 25 jobs. The LEP are working with Central Government and BAE Systems to develop the site further to enable better access and availability of development for potential tenants looking to locate into the area.

The minister heard how Lancashire is ‘No 1 for Aerospace’, with 120 businesses employing over 28,000 in the sector valued at nearly £4bn local GVA generated, and that Transport for Lancashire is driving forward a single transport agenda for Lancashire, to align with an emerging vision for Transport for the North.

Edwin Booth, LEP chairman, said: “The visit was an excellent opportunity to communicate that the LEP has a cohesive plan and is delivering on all fronts and at scale, ahead of schedule. “We welcome the Minister’s encouragement both for Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to bring forward proposals for economic development and for the county to play a full role in the Northern Powerhouse. A successful Northern Powerhouse needs a successful Lancashire and Lancashire is keen to work within the Powerhouse framework.”