Bapchild Parish Councils objects to Kent Science Park application

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23 Aug 2009
Mr J Wilson
Major Applications’ Officer
Swale Planning Services
Swale Borough Council
Swale House
East Street
ME10 3HT

23rd August 2009

Dear Mr Wilson,

SW/09/0118 outline 4ha extension to Kent Science Park
SW/09/0093 detailed application for 2 Units - B1 Use Class

Having now reviewed the new documents provided by the applicant in the very limited timeframe afforded by the Borough Council, Bapchild Parish Council’s position remains unchanged. The applicant has not demonstrated either the need to expand beyond the security fence or that such an expansion could satisfactorily be accommodated by the existing rural highways whatever traffic mitigation is being proposed.

On revisiting the data complied by the Five Parish Opposition Group and using the applicants own figures in place of FPOG’s the case for expansion remains entirely unproven.

The assumptions on which the applicant has forecast growth in both occupancy and employment are in our opinion entirely unrealistic and in certain cases deliberately seeking to misrepresent the true potential outcome.

The Parish Council find it inconceivable that while the applicant has admitted that occupancy is 20% down on that assumed in the Economic Impact Assessment (EIA) baseline, the final outcome in terms of projected growth and timeframe would remain identical. The only possible way in which this could work would be to accelerate the year on year growth projections above the upper end projection of 5% as used in the EIA.

We are however fortunate to be in a position now where we have the benefit of hindsight and actual growth achieved in the previous five years. Occupancy is vastly reduced; growth on the basis of the applicants disputed head count is only marginally improved and has not attained even the lower projected growth rates used in the EIA.

The growth forecast of 848 new jobs by 2009 have simply not materialised and we believe that in real terms the projections are unsustainable and we fully expect that in another five years we will be in much the same position.

Given that there is currently 18,408m2 of vacant space and that the phase 2 technology buildings would add a further 3,253m2 providing 21,661m2 against the fact that only 28,792m2 are occupied gives more than sufficient space for quite some time to come. Adding a further 12,000m2 at this juncture is entirely unwarranted.

The Parish Council is also perplexed at the sudden drop of 152 employees between February and April which the applicant describes as seasonal workers. It has been noted that at the time of writing that the Borough Council can not provide an insight into this. We are concerned that this illustrates that the type of employment being undertaken in not in line with that which we would wish to see on a Science Park.

On consideration of the evidence supplied it is impossible for the Parish Council to support this application. The Parish Councils reiterates its previous concerns as listed in our letter of 27th March 2009, and objects in the strongest possible sense to both of the applications.

Yours sincerely

Andy Hudson
Chairman, Bapchild Parish Council