Northern Gateway ‘would be ideal for enterprise zone’

Reporter:

Helen Davies

CALLS are being made for an enterprise zone to be set up in Flintshire, which could create 5,000 jobs.

Ambitious plans for the scheme are currently being prepared by Flintshire Council.

Yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron announced sites for enterprise zones across England and the Welsh Government has indicated it may select similar sites in Wales.

Flintshire Council has put together a draft proposal urging the Welsh Government to choose the Northern Gateway site in Sealand as an enterprise zone for development.

The plans for the 202 hectares of land to the west of the A550, part of the old RAF Sealand site, include 650 residential units including affordable housing, 150 hectares of land for offices and employment as well as retail provision and community facilities for health and leisure.

A draft proposal states: “The case for Deeside as a Growth Zone is clear and compelling.

“It will deliver regeneration and growth in a truly sustainable way – economically, socially and environmentally.”

In March it was announced one of the enterprise zones in England would be in Wirral, close to Flintshire, and yesterday a zone was revealed in nearby Warrington.

Yesterday’s announcement has led to fears enterprise zones near the border will detract investment away from Wales and into England.

“This will impact on us,” said Cllr Matt Wright, Flintshire Council’s executive member for regeneration.

“It’s a good thing but it will impact on the border counties in Wales because when companies make decisions about where to locate they will look at what’s on offer.”

Cllr Wright hopes the Welsh Government will choose the Deeside site as an enterprise zone and steer development into the county.

“We hope the Welsh Government when it comes back from recess will start making some decisions,” he said.

“I feel very strongly Flintshire has to be an extremely strong area to do such a thing. I think Flintshire offers the best site in the whole of Wales.

“It’s very well accessed by motorways and railways and there’s airports close by at Manchester and Liverpool.”

Praxis Real Estate Management has been working in collaboration with Flintshire Council to develop the plan for the site.

A spokesman for Praxis said: “It would be fantastic for Flintshire but also for North Wales if Deeside was chosen for a development zone.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are looking at options for enterprise zones and have received correspondence from a number of people regarding their potential structure and location. We are still waiting clarification from the UK Government on the operation of enhanced capital allowances.”

Business Minister Edwina Hart will be presenting her policy agenda, including the way forward for enterprise zones, when the National Assembly returns in September.

The spokesman added: “We don’t want people to see the zones as a solution to all the challenges facing the Welsh economy especially as the consequential funding provided by the UK Government is exceptionally modest at £10m in total over five years.”

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