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New wave of investment in enterprise zones

15th January 2015 Print

Developers are building a record number of offices and industrial premises in enterprise zones across the country because of the improving economy and increased level of stability, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced.

These are some of the first major investments of their kind since the downturn and show the increased confidence developers have in many local economies.

Communities will receive a big boost from these developments which will bring about more jobs on zones and provide many knock-on benefits for people living nearby - from new services and infrastructure through to new business opportunities.

More than £230 million has been committed to 31 projects across the enterprise zone programme so far, meaning at least 1.8 million square feet of new speculative office and industrial space will be rolled out by 2018 - the equivalent of more than 23 Wembley football pitches.

Around 250,000 square feet of that work has already been completed with developers pushing ahead to finish a further 500,000 square feet by summer, paving the way for up to 2,200 jobs. Businesses have already snapped up more than half of the space that is currently available.

The Communities Secretary made the announcement as he marked the completion of a £40 million building called 2 Glass Wharf at Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone. Built without a business initially lined up to move in, the iconic building will be welcoming its first tenant, global accountancy giants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

Enterprise zones are a great place to do business. That’s why these developers are channelling millions of pounds into these investments. It proves that our long-term economic plan is on track, helping deliver the kind of world-class infrastructure that attracts top companies. And that’s great news for the economy and communities because it’s these kinds of businesses that will create jobs for hard-working people.

Enterprise zones are central to the government’s plans to rebalance the economy, offering world-class infrastructure and top-class growth incentives for companies, across a range of key sectors including aviation, manufacturing and life sciences.

This business focussed approach has led to a rise in speculative builds where developers are so confident that they will let the buildings that they start work before having tenants lined up to move in.

The 2 Glass Wharf building is the first development of this kind in Bristol in 4 years and is already a third full. Providing 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art work space and potential for up to 1,000 jobs, the investment has proved so successful that developers Salmon Harvester are pushing ahead with another building, the £50 million 3 Glass Wharf that will provide a further 110,000 square feet of floor space and space for up to a 1,000 jobs.

In addition, work is about to start on another spec build at the Paintworks site at the Enterprise Zone. The £55 million Paintworks Phase III and IV expansions will deliver 125,000 square feet of space for creative and digital businesses, creating up to 450 high-tech jobs.

Other key developments include:

Alconbury Enterprise Zone

The Incubator is the Enterprise Zone’s flagship development, providing 15,000 square feet of office space for small and start-up businesses. Completed last year, the multi-million pound development is now fully let and its striking design was named best in the Midlands in its category at the British Council for Office’s 2014 design awards. In light of its success, further developments are being considered at the Zone.

Birmingham Enterprise Zone

Speculative investment is at the heart of development at the city’s Enterprise Zone with more than 550,000 square feet of workspace in the pipeline over the next 3 years. This includes Arena Central – the first speculatively developed new office building in the city since 2008. Work is about to begin on the redevelopment of Paradise Circus, which will deliver more than 320,000 square feet of office space. The development is being touted as the UK’s next financial centre, creating up to 10,000 jobs.

Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone

Speculative development will deliver nearly 150,000 square feet of office and industrial space at the Mobbs Way and Beacon Park sites on the Enterprise Zone. Mobbs Way is nearly three quarters full with work progressing on the next stage, and some speculative builds at Beacon Park are ready to go with others finishing later in the year.

Leeds Enterprise Zone

Work is ongoing to deliver 160,000 square feet of development on the Connex 45 site at Thornes Farm and on the Logic Leeds site. Construction of a £5 million 80,000 square foot industrial unit at Logic Leeds is due for completion by the summer and is the largest of its kind to be speculatively developed in West Yorkshire since the economic downturn. A further £5 million development is underway at the 21-hectare Thornes Farm site where 2 new industrial units – 50,000 square feet and 30,000 square feet – are being built for modern manufacturing firms. Together the developments will create around 200 jobs.

North East Enterprise Zone

The Blyth Workspace will provide 30,000 square feet of contemporary managed office space with the potential for up to 120 jobs. Funded by private and public investment, the development is costing around £7 million and will form the centrepiece of the mixed-development Commissioners Quay.

Science Vale UK Enterprise Zone

101 and 102 Park Drive at Milton Park are the first speculative office development to be built in Oxfordshire since 2008 and one of the few in the Thames Valley. The £15 million development has delivered 55,500 square feet and is able to house up to 750 staff.

Sheffield Enterprise Zone

More than 152,000 square foot is being delivered at the Markham Vale and Advanced Manufacturing Park. Markham Vale will provide 100,250 square feet of warehouse space by May this year and has already been let to packaging and printing specialists Inspirepac. The move will create 100 jobs and allow the firm to grow by £90 million over the next 5 years. R-evolution at the Advanced Manufacturing Park was completed in November and was the first speculative industrial development in the city since 2007. A total of 30,000 square feet of the 52,000 square foot development has already been let to advanced manufacturing firms.

The 24 enterprise zones are at the heart of the government’s ambitious long-term economic plan. They have attracted more than 430 new businesses and generated over £2 billion worth of private investment since opening for business in April 2012.