The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) first submitted a bid for the EZ to government in January this year, and its plans were publically backed by Chancellor George Osborne in the March budget.
In its original submission the LEP calculated that as a designated EZ site it could support nearly 140 new businesses, develop 175,000 sqm of premium commercial floorspace, and help create 3,000 new jobs by 2030. The bid also outlined the potential the site had as a specialist Energy hub, linking to the proposed Lancashire Energy HQ development being led by Blackpool & Fylde College.
The proposals further highlighted the opportunities the site offered for other key economic sectors, including food and drink and professional services, and included options to accommodate the return of regular commercial flights to the site in the future.
Blackpool Airport itself, which is owned by Balfour Beatty, ceased to operate regular flights in October 2014, but continues to support a number of specialist operators and private aviation activities.
Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership Edwin Booth said: “We were given strong indications earlier this year that the Blackpool Airport site would become Lancashire’s second Enterprise Zone so it’s great we’ve been finally given the official green light to proceed.
“As an EZ specialising in energy, with the chance to develop other key sectors, the site offers immense commercial potential for both Blackpool and Lancashire as a whole.
“The LEP is looking forward to working closely with its partners to maximise the wide range of opportunities this new EZ will offer Blackpool, and also ensure it aligns fully with the LEP’s wider economic and regeneration strategy for the county.”
Bev Robinson, Principal and Chief Exec of Blackpool and The Fylde College said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of an Enterprise Zone for Blackpool and the potential job creation that this brings to the area.
“Following Balfour Beatty’s design proposal for the site, and the creation of a new passenger terminal, we will submit plans for the Lancashire LEP supported Energy HQ on the newly created EZ. The co-location of this innovative training facility will help to encourage inward investment.”
The Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone will be the second to be created in Lancashire. The first covering 147 hectares and incorporating sites at Warton and Samlesbury, has a specialisation in Aerospace and advanced engineering and manufacturing.
The Warton site of the Lancashire Enterprise Zone, which is home to BAE Systems, currently employs more than 6,000 people. The LEP anticipates that, together with Samlesbury, the first Lancashire EZ could generate between 4,000 and 6,000 new jobs by 2030.
The LEP has also recently bid for a second Enterprise Zone site at Thornton-Cleveleys. Based around the Hillhouse Business Park, the 138 hectare site has a long history within the chemical sector and, if approved, will build on this heritage and target companies active within the polymer, textile and related industries.
The LEP’s Enterprise Zone strategy is part of an overarching, integrated economic growth plan for Lancashire which is sharply focussed on securing more private and public sector investment, creating new jobs, building new homes, developing commercial land and improving both physical and technological infrastructure.