Concerns voiced by David Cameron about the slow progress of an East Midlands enterprise zone have been allayed — by his own Chancellor.
In the spring of 2011, the Alliance Boots site in Beeston, Nottingham, was awarded enterprise zone status by the Government after a visit by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
The following year Boots — the pharmaceutical giant and high street chemist founded in Nottingham in 1849 — unveiled a blueprint for the development of the 100-acre site, part of which would be reserved for its own expansion.
Work on the £25m first stage cleansing of the brownfield site and the laying of infrastructure was expected to start within months, funded by a partnership between Alliance Boots, the Government, the D2N2 local enterprise partnership and Nottingham City Council.
It was hoped that more than two-million square feet of employment space would be created on the site which was once the home of a Boots plant making tonnes of Ibuprofen.
Since then little progress has been made to transform the site used by industry for three-quarters of a century. This year the Prime Minister even admitted he was a “little worried” by the lack of progress.
But during a visit this week to Boots’ Nottingham MediCity development, where three new businesses have moved to the facility, Chancellor George Osborne revealed the future looked bright for the site.
“We’ve got something potentially great here with this enterprise zone,” said the Minister. “The combination of new businesses coming here and the established business of Boots is a really powerful combination and the Government stands ready to make sure that this enterprise zone is a shining success and it is well on its way.”
He also confirmed that an outline planning application had now been lodged with the city council. “Of course I’m not the local planning authority, but I hope they look at it and give their judgement quickly,” added Osborne.
Praising Nottingham and the East Midlands’ for their “great tradition” of innovation and life sciences, he said: “We need to make sure this region has a growing economy. We have to ensure we are creating jobs in the industries of the future and this enterprise zone will do that.”
At the time of the original announcement Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of Alliance Boots, commented: “The Nottingham enterprise zone represents a unique opportunity to create a new innovation platform that will assist in the future development of the UK’s health, beauty and wellness market.
“As Alliance Boots continues to grow its international presence, Nottingham is as always extremely important to us. Our proposed investment in the Enterprise Zone further illustrates our commitment to the region and the UK as a whole.”