The launch of a major report into the state of employment land in south Warwickshire – and how to grow it across the region – was welcomed at the latest meeting of a key business organisation.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s South Warwickshire branch discussed the report during the meeting at Long Marston Airfield – where 3,500 homes are set to be built alongside adjoining employment land as part of the Long Marston Garden Village masterplan.
The report, launched in June, details the difficulties the region faces due to a lack of employment land allocated in Local Plans, and that inward investment is going to other areas of the UK as a result.
It also highlights the need for policymakers, the private sector and business organisations – such as the Chamber – to work collaboratively to resolve the issues, rather than working in silos.
During the meeting, the MP for Stratford-on-Avon, Nadhim Zahawi, spoke about the challenges the region faces and what the Government is aiming to do to assist before taking questions from attendees.
He said: “If you go back to 2016 when Long Marston Garden Village was first proposed, to this site having not been completed by now, that is too long. And this is not uncommon.
“We need to give planners more resources to work with so they can be empowered to make decisions more quickly, and we are also committed to bringing down inflation to reduce the costs of construction.
“Reports like the Chamber of Commerce’s paint a clear picture of the situation on the ground and enables us to find the most effective solutions.”
Attendees then heard from David Penn, Partner at commercial property agents Bromwich Hardy who contributed to the report as part of the Chamber’s Employment Land Group, around the difficulties of delivering sites.
“Businesses are crying out to grow, but there are very few spaces where they can expand into. When land does become available, it is invariably taken up by large warehouse and logistics companies instead of SMEs looking to expand,” he said.
“And with interest rates and inflation remaining high, many projects with permission have suddenly become unviable.
“However, while this report highlights the issues, it also shows the potential ways forward. It is fantastic that the Chamber is taking a leading role in tackling this problem with this report as a key starting point.”
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, then wrapped up the meeting by encouraging attendees to engage with the report.
He said: “This report is the culmination of our long research into the region’s lack of employment land supply, and what can be done to address it.
“Attendees appreciated being given the chance to put their questions to Nadhim Zahawi and reading the report for themselves.
“As a Chamber, we are committed to doing all we can to create the environment where businesses can start-up, grow, and thrive, bringing economic prosperity to Coventry and Warwickshire for years to come. This report is a clear example of that.
“We would urge anyone with an interest in the future of business in our region to read the report and to get in touch to discuss potential solutions.”
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce hosts quarterly meetings in each of its five Branch regions – Coventry, Rugby, North Warwickshire, Mid Warwickshire and South Warwickshire – which are open to all Chamber Members to attend. The Chamber’s Branch Network provides businesses with the ideal space to learn about and debate business challenges and opportunities facing their locality.