AMBITIOUS plans to win Enterprise Zone status for a world class science park in Runcorn could create 10,000 skilled jobs and lever more than £150 million in private investment.

Halton Council has joined forces with the local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) of Liverpool and Manchester to make a bid on behalf of Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus.

If successful, the proposed zone would deliver new specialist office, laboratory and technical space designed to retain UK companies and attract international technology businesses for the first time.

It would also secure business rate concessions and better broadband services, both key inducements for investors.

Halton Council leader, Clr Rob Polhill, said: “Daresbury is already a thriving science and innovation site.

“Enterprise Zone status would enable the new joint venture company to take Daresbury to the next level and develop further the success story.”

An Economic Investment Fund to help support innovation and enterprise would also be created under the plans, which will be considered by the Department for Communities and Local Government later this year.

Langtree, the developer behind the expansion at Daresbury, hopes the bespoke nature of the science sector and its economic buoyancy could strengthen its bid.

John Downes, chairman of Daresbury SIC and managing director of Langtree, said: “Enterprise Zone status and the extra financial and commercial strength it affords through business rates reinvestment, would allow us to deliver the critical infrastructure of the campus and accelerate our growth strategy significantly.

“The science and technology sector has shown itself to be very resilient in the face of widespread economic turmoil, meaning our bid represents a low risk proposition.

“Unlike many other Enterprise Zone bids, this is a robust and deliverable proposal, rather than a mere conceptual idea.

“We already have the commercial structure to deliver an Enterprise Zone successfully and we are ready to hit the ground running.”

Ged Fitzgerald, secretariat of Liverpool City Region LEP, said: “We are happy to support Daresbury SIC’s proposal as it has an international reputation for world class science and a thriving innovation and business centre, bringing together science, the knowledge economy and enterprise.”

Mike Blackburn, chairman of Greater Manchester LEP, said: “We are keen to play a full and active role in supporting the Daresbury SIC joint venture partners in driving the Sci-tech Enterprise Zone forwards.”

The £65 million Daresbury SIC opened in 2006 and is home to the ground-breaking Daresbury Laboratory and the Cockcroft Institute, a world class location for high tech business and cutting edge science.

Around 100 high tech companies have offices, workshops and laboratories on site.

Daresbury Laboratory has more than 14,000 registered users and has links with every university in the UK.

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