Business leaders say ambitious plans for a new £85m science park will help Yorkshire become a world pioneer in the technology sector to rival some of the leading locations already established in the UK.
Approval has been given by Harrogate Borough Council for outline plans, submitted by Addison Planning on behalf of Forward Investment, for a 100-acre development which could generate up to 3,000 jobs for the region and challenge industry leaders in the South.
The masterplan shows 580,000 square feet of commercial floorspace at the site at Flaxby, near Harrogate, made up of research and development and hi-tech business units. Mark Goldstone, the head of policy at West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, claimed developments such as Flaxby Green Park will help talent in the region reach its full potential.
He said: “A lot has been going on quietly in Yorkshire but we are ambitious and need to shout that we are here to the global market, especially as we look to leave Europe. Let us get some recognition for the talent in this region, areas like Cambridge are recognised as a ‘hot bed’ of digital talent.
“Other places may have big names but we have a huge number of innovative and growing companies here, they just need spaces in order to become as well known themselves.”
Bolstered by universities in Leeds, York and Bradford, developments such as Flaxby could aid the spread of skilled jobs. Areas without the draw of a university will also benefit as opportunities for the younger workers will be created locally, according to Mr Goldstone.
The chairman of Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee meeting, Coun John Mann, said: “The proposal received unanimous approval as we thought it was an excellent plan for the jobs it will bring. There is a currently a shortage of economic land for firms to use in the area and these 100 acres will be a viable addition for this.”
He added: “By attracting bio-science and tech jobs to the area it will help create a good mix of jobs in the district and we hope it will be a catalyst for high-tech industry in the district.”
Forward Investment’s property consultant, Rupert Visick, claimed that the proposed development would attract “credible investment” attracted by both the science park and the promise of North Yorkshire’s quality of life.
He added: “It is very hard to combat ‘brain-drain’ without a credible location for jobs to be created. The younger work force now will have a real opportunity to remain and work locally.