MORE than 8,000 jobs, a £19m a year boost and improvements to transport and housing look set for Oxfordshire.

That’s the predicted result after the Government yesterday named southern Oxfordshire as one of 10 new Enterprise Zones across the country.

The successful bid was made by Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and is expected to bring in about 8,400 jobs by 2016.

It will also generate up to £10.5m in additional business rates a year, which can be reinvested in the local economy by the LEP instead of being paid to the Government.

The zone, called Science Vale UK, features two of the UK’s biggest science and research business parks, Harwell Oxford and Milton Park.

New businesses will benefit from more than £1bn of business rate discounts over five years, simplified planning procedures, and access to superfast broadband.

That could mean new transport links, including a £26m Harwell link road between the A4130 and the A417 London Road built ahead of schedule.

Milton Park managing director James Dipple said jobs would be created in the biotech and science and technology sectors.

He added: “There are 6,500 people working here and 180 businesses but the number of businesses could grow by 50 per cent.

“Not everyone can be a boffin, so some staff will have secretarial roles or work in admin.

“We can’t create the jobs but we can create a business-friendly environment to attract firms.

“It’s an ambitious target because of the current economic climate and the global competition.

“We need an attractive offer to compete with China and India where new business parks are being built and there are huge incentives to go there. We are playing on an international stage.”

Mr Dipple estimated there could be a £9m-a-year boost to the local economy once about 8,000 jobs had been created by 2016.

He said: “If there are more than 8,000 people working in the region spending an extra £5 a day, 45 weeks of the year, that has a positive effect for local businesses.

“Those staff will be buying sandwiches, going to the gym and doing their shopping in the area.The Enterprise Zone status will also speed up house-building in the area – Great Western Park in Didcot, where 3,300 homes are being built, is just a stone’s throw away.”

Mr Dipple added that each firm in the new zone would benefit from business rate discounts of about £50,000 a year.

Harwell Oxford director Dr Sally Ann Forsyth added: “This is just the boost that Science Vale UK needs to continue its legacy as one of the world’s leading locations for research and the commercialisation of science.”

Matthew Barber, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “The award of an Enterprise Zone will enable us to launch many more hi-tech businesses within Science Vale UK.”

In June, Science Vale UK, a partnership of employers with South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils, won through to the next stage in its bid to win Enterprise Zone status.

Science Vale UK also features Culham Science Centre and Grove Technology Park and is one of the largest clusters of science research and innovation businesses in the world.

Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership could only choose one county bid, and selected the Science Vale UK (SVUK) plan instead of North West Bicester’s scheme for a 5,000-home eco-town.

Wantage MP Ed Vaizey added: “I think we will see this area become one of the most dynamic economic areas in the country.”

Mr Dipple said he expected about 8,400 new jobs to be created by 2016 but could not say how many jobs would be hi-tech and how many would be for support staff including secretaries and admin staff.

He added: “The additional business rates will be reinvested in the Oxfordshire economy, so it’s good news for the whole of Oxfordshire.

"The LEP will decide where that money is invested in Oxfordshire.”


THE Government named the first 11 zones in the spring, in cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

The successful bids in the second round were: * Humber Estuary Renewable Energy Super Cluster * Newquay AeroHub in Cornwall * Daresbury Science Campus in Warrington * The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus Airfield in Gosport * MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley, Leicestershire * Rotherwas Enterprise Zone in Hereford * Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent, and Enterprise West Essex in Harlow * Science Vale UK in Oxfordshire * Northampton Waterside * Alconbury Airfield, near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire * Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and Lowestoft in Suffolk