The need to increase the amount of affordable employment land in south Warwickshire and its role in allowing local start-ups to grow and thrive was discussed at a meeting of a key regional business organisation.
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s South Warwickshire Branch meeting brought together Chamber members, councillors, council officers and housing developer CALA Homes to discuss how businesses were being priced out of expansion due to a lack of affordable units to move into, and the best ways to address this.
It was held at Long Marston Airfield, where 3,500 homes are set to be built over the coming years along with six hectares of dedicated affordable employment land.
Attendees initially heard from Cllr Daren Pemberton, deputy leader of Stratford District Council, about how the council is looking to prioritise the creation of affordable employment land for new businesses and is working directly with developers in the area to facilitate it.
He said: “The key message we want to get across as a council, especially post-pandemic, is that we are open for business.
“Through our regular dialogue with the Chamber, we realised new start-ups, many of which started during the pandemic, are limited in their growth potential due to a lack of affordable business units for them to expand into.
“It is crucial that we collaborate with developers like CALA Homes to ensure the inclusion of affordable employment land is viable to them, and with business organisations like the Chamber to understand business’s needs on the ground.”
Jonathan Thompson, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, then told attendees how the creation of affordable employment land would stimulate the local economy.
“Delivering affordable employment land across the region is a key focus of the Chamber,” he said.
“It had been overlooked by certain stakeholders in the past, but we are now working directly with local authorities and developers to pass on small business’s concerns and giving them avenues for growth.
“It’s great to hear that Stratford District Council is taking the issue seriously, and is working proactively to deliver employment sites as quickly as possible.”
Further talks were given by Andrew Dicker, managing director of CALA Homes, and Chloe Millage of Warwickshire Skills Hub before South Warwickshire Chamber branch chairman Larry Coltman rounded off the talks.
Larry added: “South Warwickshire was one of the biggest generators of start-ups in Coventry and Warwickshire during the pandemic, and it became clear quite quickly that many were unable to fulfil their potential for growth.
“We relayed business concerns to Stratford District Council, who to their credit have listened and have actively put plans in place to address the lack of business space for fledgling companies to move into.
“We look forward to further positive discussions with the council around affordable employment land, and also around ensuring appropriate infrastructure is in place to serve the many people moving into the new homes being built in south Warwickshire.”