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Council tables new £5m development fund

Thu 21 February 2013, 9:50 am

Medway Council has drawn up plans to invest £5 million into a new regeneration fund to jump-start the redevelopment of Rochester Airport.

The investment, aimed at boosting the local economy and creating thousands of hi-tech jobs, represents roughly half of the authority’s unallocated reserves and would be called the South Medway Development Fund.

In December, the authority’s cabinet gave its backing to a plan to redevelop the airport that would see a reconfiguration of its runways allowing a 12ha portion of the existing site to be used for a business, science or technology development near to Rochester Airport Industrial Estate.

Councillor Alan Jarrett, Medway’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, said that creating the £5 million fund as part of the 2013-14 budget would help to make the scheme a reality.

“We are being asked by government to use our reserves and, while we need to keep some money back for unforeseen costs, the aim here is to continue to ensure the money we do have is put to good use for Medway and its residents,” he said.

“The South Medway Development Fund will assist in regeneration projects that encompass proposals for Rochester Airport, which were agreed, in principle, by cabinet last year.

“It is a major initiative that will help ensure this ambitious scheme takes off with all the benefits it could bring in terms of boosting the local economy and ultimately the creation of thousands of jobs."

Rochester Airport is used by light aircraft and the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society, but many of the airport's facilities date back to the 1930s.

Key to the airport redevelopment  is securing a new operator to run the facility on a 25-year contract.

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