Folkestone and Hythe District Council has announced that a contractor has been appointed to build a new road which will pave the way for the creation of much-needed employment for the Romney Marsh area.

The road will be the gateway opening up five hectares of land owned by the council off the Mountfield Road Industrial Estate in New Romney.

With associated infrastructure and utilities, the road will be built by Breheny Civil Engineering and the cost met from a £3.53 million share of the government’s Getting Building funding. Design has just begun and the construction of the road will begin in the summer.

The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) announced last year that the project had been chosen to receive the Getting Building funding. Supported by Kent County Council and the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership, it was one of six in Kent chosen for being shovel-ready and able to help the local economy to recover.

A condition of the funding is that the work has to be completed by March 2022 and that more than 480 jobs are created for the local area over a ten-year period. Already interest has been shown in the land by existing businesses. It is also hoped that space will be developed to provide studio accommodation for creative businesses as part of a later phase.

Councillor David Wimble, F&HDC Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This is good news for New Romney and the rapid progress towards creating the estate’s infrastructure shows a strong commitment to the Romney Marsh.

“I personally have already had interest expressed to me from businesses looking to expand to the site which heralds a bright future as the Mountfield estate becomes a viable business hub for the district.”

Breheny Contract Manager Tim Canham said: “Breheny are delighted to have been awarded the Romney Marsh Employment Hub Stage 2 works and look forward to delivering a quality and successful project for Folkestone & Hythe District Council. We will look to deliver the project safely and with consideration to third parties and local residents.”

South East LEP Chair, Christian Brodie, said: “We are delighted that government has recognised the excellent projects and potential that the South East has to drive forward our economy at this challenging time. Projects, such as this important asset in Romney Marsh, have been carefully selected to target those areas and industries particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and those that can progress, at pace, to support economic recovery. The South East LEP has a proven track record of delivering successful projects and has been working really closely with our local areas to understand what our businesses need and where investment will have significant impact.

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Mike Whiting, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This announcement is a major step forward in a scheme which will to re-invigorate and diversify the economy of the Romney Marsh area by unlocking a key development site with the potential to create more than 600 jobs.

“It will not only mitigate some of the impact of the closure of the Dungeness power stations, but also provide an opportunity to attract new businesses into the Romney Marsh area to help diversify and grow the local economy.”

Geoff Miles, Chairman of the Kent and Medway Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am delighted by the government’s investment in Folkestone and Hythe. COVID-19 presents an exceptional challenge to the local economy, with both businesses and residents impacted. This is the time for decisive action and strong leadership, and the new investment of £3.536 million into this infrastructure, which will unlock the Romney Marsh Employment Hub, is an important step forward in this regard.”

By Ed

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