Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

Comment ID 21403105//5
Document Section 1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document Employment Q35. What would help to attract more businesses to invest and grow here? View all on this section
Respondent Matt Griffith View all by this respondent
Response Date 10 Dec 2018

Having the right sort of employment sites in the right locations within the West of England region is vital for the future prosperity of the city-region and the employment opportunities available to local populations. Without appropriate availability of sites and premises we will be unable to attract inwards investment internationally or from the rest of the UK. Businesses currently in the city-region and seeking to relocate or expand will be unable to do so locally and are likely to move away.

Rising commercial property prices in the West of England risk reducing our competitiveness in relation to other key regional markets from London and the M4 and M5 corridors, as well as weakening our position with the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cities and Cardiff and South Wales – all of whom have aggressive strategies to drive growth and attract both national and international inward investments and relocations. Our region also faces growing international competition, given the global reach and supply chain structure of many of our region’s key economic sectors.

Our city region is currently facing a shortfall in suitable employment space for growing companies – something that is being frequently highlighted to us by our tech, creative and SME members and partners.

We therefore welcome the Local Plan commitment to allocate land to maximise opportunities to support growth in sectors including financial and professional, high value manufacturing and design, good and drink, digital technology, media and telecoms and cultural and creative industries.

It is also worth remembering the continued need for sufficient employment land for businesses that fall outside of these sectors, and also that the availability of a range of cheaper industrial and office options is important for the start-up potential and underlying health of even ‘supported’ growth sectors, such as creative and cultural or advanced manufacturing.

We also welcome the North Somerset Local Plan finding that “there were issues around delivery of employment land development to meet the aspirations of North Somerset Council for the local economy, the threat of loss of employment land, the appropriateness of specific location and localised issues” (page 71). We also welcome the emphasis on “the importance of retaining a relative surplus of employment land … as essential given the strong economic potential of North Somerset going forward over the plan period” (page 71).

We therefore welcome that North Somerset give further consideration to the North Somerset Employment Land Review recommendations to:
Protect allocated employment sites
Protect existing employment sites
Consider additional employment sites at the Port, Airport and “on sites closer to Bristol to capitalise on opportunities provided by infrastructure investment and the economic growth prospects of Bristol”
Consider proactive initiatives to support business growth.
Ongoing monitoring of economic issues in order to allow planning framework to respond to market signals (page 71).

Although we can see the case for some consolidation of employment land (page 71), it is important that this is done on a case by case basis and does not lead to a deterioration of the overall availability and price of employment land in these locations.

Support for approach to ensuring sufficient employment land safeguarded.