EDDC to borrow a minimum of £3.4 million and up to £8 million to “improve” Greater Exeter enterprise zone

Owl says: it seems western East Devon/Greater Exeter is to thrive at the expense of eastern East Devon; more of everything for Greater Exeter, less of everything for Lesser East Devon.

“Improved bus services, a new park-and-change car park, and improvements to Exeter Airport are all on the cards.

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve borrowing of nearly £3.5m to help accelerate the projects in the Enterprise Zone.

The Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone consists of the Exeter Science Park, the Skypark, the Exeter Airport Business Park and Cranbrook Town Centre.

A report to the cabinet is seeking approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The report, that goes to the Cabinet on Wednesday, April 4, written by Naomi Harnett, Enterprise Zone Programme Manager, says: “While not yet fully developed and appraised it is considered that these projects are also likely to make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the objectives of the Enterprise Zone.

“The Enterprise Zone designation is a powerful means of accelerating the delivery of new commercial space and jobs in the four sites in the West End of the District.

“The more that can be done to accelerate the delivery of new commercial space the greater the impact there will be both in terms of business rate income and wider economic benefit. Work has focused on developing projects that help to overcome identified barriers to delivery and/or have a catalytic impact in terms of accelerating the pace of new commercial development.

“Approval is sought for the funding of an initial set of projects that are considered to contribute substantially to meeting the objectives for the EZ.”

The report seeks approval for £3,391,250m to be borrowed against future ring-fenced business rate income.

The four proposals that the council is being asked to invest in are:

1 – An enhanced frequency bus service (30 minute at peak) connecting Exeter to the Enterprise Zone area. This includes connections via the key transport nodes of Exeter St Davids and Exeter Airport. The service is due to commence at around 5am and run through to 11pm, with the intention that this fits with key shift patterns and flight times. Some of the services will also continue to Woodbury and Exmouth. The service builds on an existing service tendered by Devon County Council and the intention is to subsidise this for an initial period of 3 years starting from Summer 2018. The scheme would cost £536,250 and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

2 – A 309 space park-and-change car park located at the Exeter Science Park, alongside bike lockers and an e-bike docking station. The facility will both support the development of the Science Park and contribute to the wider transport strategy for the area. It is anticipated that the works will complete during summer 2019 and be delivered by Devon County Council, and would cost £2.4m

3 – An upgrade to the Exeter Airport Instrument Landing System. The current system installed in 1997 has now reached the point where there is no further operational tolerance to accommodate additional nearby development. Subsequently this is a significant barrier to development coming forward particularly at both Skypark and the Airport Business Park extension. The scheme would be delivered by Exeter Airport and cost £1.4m

4 – An upgrade to Long Lane, the road that runs immediately to the south of the airport. It is the principle means of access to the Airport Business Park extension and is sub-standard to the point where no further development can proceed until it is improved and is therefore a significant barrier to one of the four EZ sites coming forward. An initial sum of up to £100,000 is sought in order to complete the scheme design and would be delivered by Devon County Council.

The investment in the enhanced bus service and park and change facility would be in the form of a grant, and a forward funding mechanism is proposed to secure the timely upgrading of the Instrument Landing Systems at the Airport. The costs of this can then be recouped as development proceeds.

The report also request that the cabinet agrees the principle of borrowing up to £8m against ringfenced business rate income to fund the delivery of projects and makes this recommendation to Council

Further papers setting out specific investment proposals in relation Cranbrook town centre and Exeter Airport would come to the Cabinet at a later date.

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