The 138 hectare site, which is already occupied by over 40 businesses including Victrex, AGC Chemicals, Addsion Engineering and Vinnolit, is on the site of a former ICI manufacturing plant and has been a centre of advanced chemical manufacture since the 1950s.
Under the new proposals the LEP and local partners plans to build on Hillhouse’s hi-tech chemical and polymer heritage, but will also target firms within the wider energy and advanced manufacturing sectors to complement Lancashire’s overarching Enterprise Zone strategy.
This includes forging links between the proposed Energy Enterprise Zone currently at Blackpool Airport, and the Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace EZ sites located at Samlesbury and Warton.
In terms of employment growth, the LEP forecasts that if adopted as an Enterprise Zone the Hillhouse site could potentially double the number of local jobs to over 3,500 within the next ten to twenty years.
Edwin Booth, Chair of the Lancashire LEP, said: “If the EZ bid to government is successful, the Hillhouse site has the potential to accelerate the growth of a world class chemical and polymer sector cluster and create thousands of new jobs in the process.
“However we also recognise that sectors like energy, chemicals and advanced manufacturing are increasingly starting to converge, and with our Enterprise Zone strategy we are seeking to cross-fertilise expertise and innovation across all our key sectors to develop collaborative clusters with a fully integrated supply chain. This is what will give Lancashire a competitive advantage going forward.
“In addition the investment in all our Enterprise Zones is fully aligned with the LEP’s other major regeneration projects and economic drivers in place across the county. These include the £232m Lancashire Growth Deal, the City Growth Deal for Preston and South Ribble, and many other significant infrastructure, skills and education initiatives which are being rolled out over the next few years.”
“This is an exciting and transformational time for Lancashire, and the LEP and its partners are working very hard to maximise every opportunity, including bidding for this new EZ at Hillhouse.”
If the LEP is successful in securing Enterprise Zone status for the Hillhouse site the area will benefit from a range of incentives and benefits including reduced business rates.
Wyre Borough Council, Lancashire County Council, NPL Estates and the Blackpool and Fylde Coast Economic Development Company are also supporting the Hillhouse EZ application.