Sunday, 24 February 2013

East Kent Growth Strategy forges economic recovery

Thanet is already sparkling in the economic dawn that is the East Kent Growth Strategy.

Thanet was one of the six local authorities which, in Canterbury on Thursday 14 February, agreed a new East Kent Strategy for Growth. This is a long term strategy for integrating the infrastructure and individual district investment plans of all the local authorities in the area. It provides for a joined-up and cooperative opportunity to deliver project priorities as the region forges its recovery.

East Kent is a location with real growth potential, and is now attracting an increasing level of investment and national and international interest.  Thanet is a key partner in this and its aspirations are wide ranging: even in Education the most recent figures show that Thanet is second only to Canterbury (which, after all, has two universities) in the proportion of staff working in this field.

Thanet is also second to Canterbury in the volume and spend of international visitors. Margate has been voted a top tourist destination and the specialist outlets in Margate’s Old Town have the opportunity to benefit from the extra visitors who are guided through on their way to Turner Contemporary. Ramsgate’s Marina is over-subscribed and the Port is ideally placed for servicing the London Array windfarms.

Only Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Sevenoaks have a higher proportion of staff involved in real estate activity – which must say something about the amount of regeneration going on in Thanet!

Further evidence for the success of Thanet’s aspirational activity is that, amongst its East Kent partners, the employment rate in Thanet has risen from a poor starting point four years ago (63%) to match those of Swale, Dover and Shepway, at just over 70%. This bucks the trend shown by other parts of Kent where even Ashford, although still a high-flyer, has fallen back from 80% to 76% during the same period.

In the East Kent Growth Strategy there are twelve spatial priorities which are predicted to deliver up to 22,000 new jobs between them.  Furthermore, whilst Thanet is only one of six local authorities involved, a full quarter of those priorities have been earned by the district:
  • Margate/Cliftonville Regeneration
  • Ramsgate Port, Marina and Waterfront
  • Thanet Central Island/ Manston

Cllr Cive Hart, the Leader of Thanet District Council, said:  “The strategy is a tremendous opportunity for East Kent. It reflects and builds on how the districts are working with each other, and with KCC, to provide a joined-up approach. This structured cooperation will help to attract large scale investment. Thoughtful integration of the county’s infrastructure and synchronisation of the enhancements of the best attributes of each district will enable us to form a whole which is even greater than the sum of its parts.  This is a long term approach to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of us. Thanet is already showing what can be done, and we look forward to providing our partners with the benefit of our experience, at the same time as learning from their successes.”


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