Lord Heseltine sees template for Thames Estuary success at Discovery Park
Discovery Park was the final stop for Lord Heseltine on a day long fact finding mission exploring how businesses across North and East Kent are contributing to the economic growth of the region.
The former deputy prime-minister is chairman of the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission, which has been tasked with delivering a vision and delivery plan for this key development corridor stretching from East London to Thanet.
While Discovery Park lies in Dover District it is has retained its position, held while under Pfizer’s ownership, as a key employment centre for East Kent – including neighbouring Thanet – growing from five to 150 companies in four years, supporting around 2,400 jobs.
Paul Barber, Managing Director, Discovery Park, said: “We were delighted to welcome Lord Heseltine to Discovery Park, a template for the kind of regeneration success that his commission is seeking to bring to the wider region.
”It has been a remarkable four year period for this site – going from five companies to our current position of 150 plus companies, employing over 2,400 people – with a lot more to come in the years ahead as its development gathers pace.
“We were delighted to have an opportunity to provide ideas for Lord Heseltine’s commission and their quest to increase jobs and prosperity in the Thames Estuary area.”
Lord Heseltine began his visit with a round table discussion, finding out about the site’s story to date, with particular interest in steps being taken to support the next generation and raise the area’s skills base.
He heard about the significant number of education events supported or held on site throughout the year as well as support for apprenticeships and resources being provided for schools to help teachers bring science to life.
Projects such as the recently launched Community Lab project, run in partnership with Pfizer and East Kent College, which links young people and teaching staff with the latest lab equipment and access to the work of science tenants on site.
In addition to Discovery Park chief executive Chris Musgrave and Managing Director Paul Barber, the roundtable discussion included Professor Sadie Morgan co-founder of leading UK architects dRMM Ltd, and design chair of the HS2 rail project.
She was joined by representatives from site tenants Centauri Therapeutics and Narec Capital, who shared their experience at Discovery Park and its contribution to East Kent’s ongoing regeneration.
Mike Westby, Chief Executive, Centauri Therapeutics, said: “Meeting Lord Heseltine and his team was a great opportunity to share my experience of running life science research at Sandwich.
“Discovery Park is a living example of how quickly a purpose-built Pharma R&D site can be evolved and repurposed to support tenants and encourage new investment.
“Only five years ago I was one of 2,400 Pfizer employees on a single occupancy site; today I lead one of over 150 different businesses in a thriving and diverse business park.”
Following the discussion, Lord Heseltine was taken on a short tour of Discovery Park with visits to Top Villas, which is now one of the biggest general businesses on site and the labs of global pharmaceutical company, Mylan.
Posted on 22/08/2016