PLANS to build a world-class business park and training centre are taking shape in Lancashire.

Phase 1 of the Lancashire Enterprise Zone will be made public in the new year, but bosses at Lancashire County Council and defence giant BAE Systems said they were in serious discussions with around 16 businesses who had expressed an interest in moving to BAE’s Samlesbury site.

Although the names of the companies could not be disclosed, bosses said they were from the automotive, aerospace, energy and logistics sectors.

The enterprise zone welcomes new and expanding companies from outside of Lancashire to relocate to the former airfield and benefit from large tax breaks, relaxed planning laws and super-fast broadband.

The site will also include a training facility named Skill City.

Colleges, universities and other training providers are expected to be involved to provide skills to young apprentices in the specialist sector.

Phil Halsall, chief executive of Lancashire County Council, said companies were facing an ageing workforce and were currently identifying the skills needs of the industry.

He said: “Companies have recognised that their work force is on average in their 50s. We will work with them to create an opportunity to train young people to they can fill their skill gap in the future.”

David Baird, Enterprise Zones project manager with BAE, said: “We have completed the masterplan for the first phase at Samlesbury which identifies what we need to do at an outline level. We will work hard with consultants to create a detailed plan in the first half of 2013 and the infrastructure we need to put in.

“We are working hard to get the commitment off the companies to come on to the site.”

Martin Kelly, director of economic development at Lancashire County Council, said: “Phase one has received really strong market interest from around 16 companies in the advanced engineering industry.

“We are looking to welcome our first new arrivals in the first quarter of 2014. The number of companies depends on the size of plot required by the businesses.

“The masterplan will put some flesh on the bones of the plans.”