Science and technology companies are being courted by the Thames Gateway amid an ambitious expansion of science park space. Financial Times

Developers and planners in the regeneration zone east of London are intent on attracting growing knowledge-based businesses.

In open farmland just outside Sittingbourne, Kent Science Park has been drawing up plans for a grand expansion. A former sprawling Shell research centre with its share of outdated buildings, its transformation from an industrial heritage site to a home for modern technology companies typifies the region’s ambitions.

Now home to more than 80 companies of varying sizes and 1,000 jobs, it has become a crucial source of employment in the economically underperforming Swale area.

However, James Speck, its new site director, says it is poised to go further. Work is nearing completion on the first new building at the park in a decade, 23,000 sq ft of purpose-designed technology space in three units, which are already let.

Yet that is almost insignificant in comparison to its masterplan to bring 4,800 jobs and about 230 new companies to the park with an expansion of more than 1.5m sq ft of commercial property by 2026, in the process injecting £250m more in the local economy. The expansion will include a new connecting road direct to the M2 and A2, funded by the sale of land for 4,500 homes.