More industrial and commercial land needs to be freed up to bolster Worcestershire’s growth, according to Ian Parker, a director of Redditch property agents John Truslove.
The county’s commercial property market is booming across the office and industrial sectors, with demand for premises starting to outstrip supply.
“Worcestershire is officially one of the fastest growing economies in the country … but we must not rest on our laurels,” cautioned Mr Parker.
His comments come ahead of Worcestershire LEP hosting its Annual Conference on Friday, November 13. There will be a keynote speech from Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, and Mr Parker wants to get the message across.
The conference will attract around 400 delegates from local businesses from all sectors and sizes along with other partners. Up for discussion will be progress and priorities for the county’s future growth.
Mr Parker said: “It needs to be spelled out loud and clear that the worrying lack of commercial property availability has to be addressed.
“In my opinion the issue is nowhere near high enough up the economic agenda.
“We desperately need land to be re-allocated in order to satisfy demand for commercial premises. A lack of stock is starting to impact on the Worcestershire economy.
“We at John Truslove are acting for major employers that can’t find premises to expand into and hence are being forced to look elsewhere. We are working with developers on key sites in Bromsgrove and Redditch – planners and local authorities must assist in enabling these sites to come to market without delay. They should look at ways to encourage speculative development – assistance with acquiring grants, cutting through red tape, being as user friendly as possible.
“Earlier this year we all rejoiced when figures published by the Office of National Statistics revealed that Worcestershire’s economy was the third fastest growing in the country. Between 2008 and 2013 it surged 16.82 per cent, with only London and Oxford faring better.
“It reflects great credit on a host of go-getters, led by the LEP and Worcestershire County Council, is very good news and helps reinforce our World Class Worcestershire campaign.
“But if inward investment and the growth ambitions of local companies are to be stifled because of a lack of land for commercial property development then expansion and drive will be reined in. And that will temper growth.
“In short it will mean we will not advance as quickly as we could or should.”
Mr Parker went on: “Mr Javid is a busy man, but this is too important to be left on the shelf. I would urge him, with others, to come up with a solution to the logjam. And what better place to announce a new initiative than the LEP conference.
“Worcestershire is a great county, with skilled and talented people and a can-do attitude to business and entrepreneurship. Put the building blocks in place and it will go on to achieve so much more.”