AROUND 2,000 jobs are set to be created at a new ‘engineering excellence’ business park in a massive economy boost for Dorset.

The Echo reported last month how building work was underway on a £2.5m project to create 20 new employment units at the Dorset Enterprise Zone at Winfrith.

It marks the first new-build development at the former Winfrith atomic energy site for more than 20 years.

Now Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has said the site, named Dorset Innovation Park, aims to create 2,000 new jobs and dozens of new businesses for Dorset over the next 25 years.

The site already hosts two world leaders in defence technology – QinetiQ and Atlas Elektronik UK – and will now become a ‘major focus for the economic

regeneration of South Dorset and a vital stimulus for employment’, says the LEP.

The scheme, one of 12 new enterprise zones launched in the UK is a joint partnership between Dorset LEP, Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council to create a ‘new cluster of excellence’ in advanced engineering for the South West.

Dorset Innovation Park is being marketed internationally, nationally and locally as a major site, building on strengths in marine, defence and energy.

The park accommodates a total of 56 hectares of employment land. It follows major public sector redevelopment of the former Dorset Green Technology Park by councils, and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which stepped in after the previous leaseholders went into receivership.

Having invested £1.5m to get the site ready for development, the HCA is now transferring the site to the local councils which, with Dorset LEP will take forward the delivery of the enterprise zone.

Enterprise zones are part of the Government’s strategy to help businesses grow. Hosted by LEPs, they provide commercial and industrial businesses with incentives to set up or expand.

Dorset LEP chairman Gordon Page said: “Dorset Innovation Park is a key strategic employment site for Dorset LEP and its success is an important element in working towards the objectives set out in our strategic economic vision for Dorset.

“Achieving Enterprise Zone status has enabled much needed extra employment land to be freed up, both for existing companies on the site which are actively looking to expand and for companies across Dorset which are struggling to find space. Dorset LEP is very pleased to launch Dorset Innovation Park as an attractive place to come and do business.