A public exhibition setting out a vision for the long-term future of Rochester Airport, including space for a new hi-tech business zone with the potential to create up to 1,000 jobs, takes place next week.

The two-day event, will be held next door to the 1930s built airfield at the Innovation Centre, off Maidstone Road, Chatham, from 10.30am to 8pm on Monday, 13 and Tuesday, 14 May.

Medway Council’s cabinet agreed before Christmas to begin the process of drawing up a master plan for the airport that will form the basis for any future development. The exhibition will update businesses and residents on how proposals are taking shape with staff on hand to answer questions.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council, said: “This exhibition will bring residents and businesses up to date on our proposals to secure the future of the Rochester Airport site for generations to come “It will be the first of many opportunities for comments to be made on these exciting proposals, which ultimately will form the basis for any future planning application.

“I would encourage both residents and businesses, especially those living near the airport, to come along and help us to shape how best to protect the site and open it up for business, tourism and the wider community.”

Anyone going to the exhibition will see a number of displays that give an initial vision for the future of the site. All comments made over two days will be fed into the process that will produce the final master plan, setting out the council’s ambitions for the site. A further public consultation event will take place later in the summer.

First established in 1933, the Rochester Airport site is owned by Medway Council and has been leased since 2000 to an airport operator – Rochester Airport Limited.
Proposals, revealed last autumn, involve replacing many of the existing buildings and facilities on the airport now reaching the end of their useful life and a reconfiguration of the existing runways.

One of the grass runways on site will be closed and replaced with a new parallel grass and paved runway. The paved runway will allow modern small aircraft to take off and climb to a higher altitude very quickly, reducing the impact of noise on surrounding homes.

The grass runway will allow the nationally recognised Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) to continue to use the site for heritage aircraft and open days. It would not lead to the site becoming a full-scale commercial passenger carrying airport.
The new runway layout could allow 29 acres near to Rochester Airport Industrial Estate – to be developed as a new hub as a new hub for science or technology related firms – with the potential to eventually create up to 1,000 new skilled jobs.

The changes are also geared towards increasing visitors to the area in the long run by becoming a new aviation heritage attraction to encourage more visitors to Medway.