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Gilkes’ £2.75m grant to create 500 jobs in Kendal
A NEW £2.75million grant for a Kendal business will create more than 500 new jobs and unlock funding to transform the town’s run-down Canal Head area.
The Government’s cash boost to Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon will enable the turbine maker to build a new factory, take on new staff and trigger up to £80million of private investment.
This money will be used to build new homes, offices, and a supermarket, while bringing the old Lancaster Canal back to life.
A new bridge over the River Kent to improve traffic to the redeveloped site may also be in the pipeline.
Gilkes was one of two Cumbrian companies selected for a grant from the Regional Growth Fund this week and company chairman Charles Crewdson said he was delighted their bid had been successful.
“Not only is this great for us but it is the beginning of a new chapter for Kendal,” he said.
“We have been talking about the development of 20 acres at Canal Head and this is the sort of final catalyst that gets us across the line. This is a completely neglected quarter that was very dynamic in the past and we can turn it back into that by securing ourselves here on the site and growing.”
The grant will allow the internationally-renowned company to build a £7million new factory and free up a third of its land for the development which will be overseen by Manchester company Genr8.
“We can build our factory which ensures that we can agree to the whole development,” he said.
“Without our land we don’t have a development. About £70 to 80million is ready to flow to the site from the private sector, dependent on a successful planning application which we will be submitting before Christmas.”
Mr Crewdson is also confident the new factory will lead to 25 more jobs and a further 560 through the creation of a new supermarket, hotel, office space and new housing development.
Graham Vincent, porfolio holder for the economy and enterprise for South Lakeland District Council, said: “We have not had public investment on this scale for an incredibly long time and this is the best news for Gilkes and for Kendal. The grant shows there is recognition that Kendal is a site that is valued for its industry rather than just tourism and retail.
“The plans allow Kendal to look forward 30 to 40 years. It will allow the economy to grow and the wider impact cannot be understated.”
There were fears that Gilkes would have to leave Kendal if it could not secure the funds for a new factory.
“Being stuck in a conservation area and between two national parks makes any building work extremely expensive,” said Mr Crewdson. “This is not just a business decision, it is tainted by our willingness to commit to Kendal. My family has been committed to Kendal for centuries and I continue to be so. We have people here who have spent all their lives with us and we want to be here for the next generation.”
If planning permission goes ahead, building work on the bridge and the first phase of the Canal Head development could start in 2013.
“The next stage now is to get the green light, and we will be submitting plans for the whole site in December to South Lakeland District Council,” said Mr Crewdson. “A supermarket is pivotal to the project and if we don’t get that then we don’t have a development at all.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron worked with Gilkes, the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and SLDC on the bid and said it was incredible news.
“This is fantastic news for both Gilkes and everyone in Kendal – it has the potential to transform out town’s economy and make us the leading centre for hydro manufacturing,” said Mr Farron.
“Charles Crewdson and his team at Gilkes have every right to be proud of this deserved result.”