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Council 'will proceed' with airport redevelopment plan

Fri 4 January 2013, 5:15 pm

Medway Council's cabinet has given its support to proposals that would see part of Rochester Airport redeveloped as a high-tech business park that could create up to 1,000 jobs.

Councillors last month agreed to push ahead with the plans aimed at securing the long-term future of the facility by reconfiguring its runways, downsizing its footprint, and seeking a long-term operator.

The authority will now run a consultation process with local residents and businesses before drawing up a redevelopment masterplan for the project.

At the heart of the drive will be the tendering process for a 25 year contract for a new operator to run the revamped airport.

Part of the deal would involve the successful bidder working with the private sector and the council to invest in the site to improve its facilities, public access and the heritage offer available.

Under the proposals, a 12ha portion of the existing airport site, near to Rochester Airport Industrial Estate, would also become available as a development for high-tech business, science or technology development.

Deputy council leader Alan Jarrett said the new airport operator would be responsible for submitting a planning application for the changes to the site.

“I believe the plans for Rochester Airport represent the best possible opportunity to protect the site and secure major private sector investment into this important asset in Medway,” he said.

“We aim to safeguard aviation for business, heritage and leisure use in this well-connected location as well as releasing new land for jobs in Medway.

“The council will now go out for tender for an operator who can run this longer, much more secure 25 year lease, as opposed to the current five year one, and this will give long term security to the airport and the businesses based there.”

Many of the airport's facilities date back to the 1930s, when it was opened.

It is currently used by light aircraft and the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society.

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