THREE HUNDRED jobs could be created thanks to a successful bid for £5.5 million of Government funding.
The money is to come from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and will be used by local regeneration company Sea Change Sussex to develop the North Queensway Innovation Park, in St Leonards.
The company plans to work with growing businesses in the manufacturing sector to build custom-made premises on the new park to suit their particular needs.
Julian Crampton, chair of Sea Change Sussex, said: “We’re thrilled to hear that our bid to the third round of the Regional Growth Fund has been successful. It’s another big boost to economic development in East Sussex.
“We bid for funding to support our plans to create the North Queensway Business Park in Hastings - to help local manufacturing businesses to expand and create more local jobs.”
The regeneration company identified the need for such premises, especially amongst local firms keen to expand but constrained by the current lack of suitably sized properties.
Sea Change is now in advanced discussions about building premises on this site with three companies, and in early discussions with a further two.
It is estimated that up to 300 jobs could be created over the next three to five years at the 13-acre site.
Mr Crampton added: “Our plans recognise the strength of the manufacturing sector in the Hastings area. Working with our partners, we’ve established a programme to maintain the momentum of manufacturing growth using the area’s last remaining employment land before the strategic business sites released by the construction of the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road become available from 2015.
It is hoped that the details of the funding will be confirmed by around April next year. Sea Change has obtained planning consent to create a road junction and access into the North Queensway site, and engineering investigation work is already underway.
This is part of Sea Change’s 10-year programme to boost the Sussex economy, which aims to create 6,000 jobs by 2022.
Projects include the North Queensway scheme, the Priory Quarter in the town centre, as well as developments planned for 42 acres of land in north-east Bexhill.
It was reported in the Observer in June this year that the Enviro21 business park in Queensway, remained half empty two years after being opened.
Jonathan Dolding, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce manager, said that waiting for one scheme to fill up before moving on would hamper growth , and space was needed for a wide range of businesses.
He said: “We have some world-renowned manufacturers and it is essential that the town offers the best possible facilities and premises to support their continued development, as well as providing an attractive proposition to those looking to relocate to the area.
“The development of quality space is critical to the retention and creation of several hundred highly skilled jobs.”
Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “This shows that this Government is committed to Hastings.
“I am determined to see more jobs and support for businesses and manufacturing in Hastings and this funding does just that.”