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Agenda item

Draft Economic Development Strategy


The Regeneration and Economic Development Manager introduced the report, reiterating that the draft Economic Development Strategy (EDS) was designed to be a high-level document. 


Ms Lucie Bailey, Economics Director at Lichfields, gave a presentation to summarise the proposed EDS, as contained in Appendix 1 to the report, with an emphasis on the five strategic priorities: open for business; a greener, more productive economy; a thriving rural economy; inclusive growth; and destination Maidstone town centre.


The next step would be to update the draft EDS according to Member feedback, followed by an eight-week public consultation to begin in mid-May 2021. The results of the consultation would be reviewed with the final EDS presented to the Committee in September 2021.


It was felt that Maidstone’s centrality between other attractions should be included within the strategy, and the links made with businesses through the administration of Covid-19 grants should be used to encourage businesses to feedback on the draft EDS.


In response to questions, Ms Bailey explained that the strategy could be used as a hook to begin conversations with other partners where collaboration would be required to achieve the ambitions set out, for example development of infrastructure in rural areas. It was acknowledged that the housing allocation sites used as examples within priority 2 could be made less specific.


The Regeneration and Economic Development Manager confirmed that the businesses that had chosen to receive communications from the Council would be made aware of the public consultation.


In response to questions, the Head of Regeneration and Economic Development confirmed that the Regulation 19 public consultation would begin in September 2021, after the EDS had been reviewed.


The Head of Regeneration and Economic Development updated the Committee on two new funding programmes which correspond with actions within the draft EDS: the UK Community Renewal Fund and the Levelling Up Fund. The first was a revenue fund focussing on skills and employment, business support, and communities and place, and work was being undertaken with the college to create a town centre base to target those furthest from the labour market. The Chamber of Commerce business support scheme was also explained, which was considering the introduction of a green audit to identify opportunities and signpost businesses to appropriate sources of funding.


The Levelling Up Fund was a capital fund allowing bids up to £20 million per MP Constituency area, however the deadlines were often short. Therefore it was recommended to have projects ready for when new funding becomes available in order to submit within the deadline.





1.  The comments on the draft Economic Development Strategy be noted and the five priorities endorsed;


2.  The public consultation programme for the revision of the draft Economic Development Strategy following the local elections in May 2021 be approved;


3.  The draft Economic Development Strategy be reviewed to reflect feedback from the public consultation;


4.  The completed Economic Development Strategy and five year action plan be presented to the Committee in September 2021 for full adoption; and


5.  The work on applications to the renewal and levelling up funds being undertaken by Officers be noted and endorsed.


Note: Councillor Hinder left the meeting during this item.

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