THE director of property agency John Truslove has called on Redditch and Bromsgrove councils to free up more employment land.
Ian Parker, who was recently named Worcestershire Dealmaker of the Year 2020, says the local authorities ‘risk losing jobs forever’.
“North East Worcestershire is currently a hotbed for business and in great demand,” he said.
“This is due to good communication links, its central location and proximity to Birmingham and the city’s airport.
“But Redditch, Bromsgrove and Worcestershire authorities must act immediately to free up more employment land or we will miss losing out on jobs for a generation.
“The shortage of available accommodation is a perennial issue, and we must be ready for the anticipated migration of business out of the major conurbations.”
Mr Parker highlighted Amazon at the Eastern Gateway as an example of a site failing to provide the accommodation promised at the outset.
“It has been a wasted opportunity by the councils with the developers being allowed to pursue maximum profit over the requirements of the region,” he said.
“When the scheme was first announce the plan was for a ‘range of units to cater for different market sectors, ranging from 10,000 to 200,000 sqft’.
“Demand for quality factory premises from 1,000 to 40,000 sqft in Redditch is currently outstripping supply and it is these size ranges where the lack of accommodation is most critical.
“Given that public money was invested into the scheme, perhaps this should have come with conditions that part of the site was to be set aside for the development of smaller premises, as initially promised. There is clearly enough space for both to have sat side by side. ”
Mr Parker believes the lack of free employment land in the county is critical and needs addressing in days, rather than years.
“Otherwise companies looking to build a central UK base and create thousands of jobs will simply look elsewhere.
“There are areas, in the East Midlands for example, where they will be welcomed with open arms.”
He added that there is plenty of land on the fringes of current developments which could be used for employment purposes, for example on Ravensbank Drive.
A spokesperson for North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) told the Standard that unlocking sites for employment use is a top priority.
“For example, Bromsgrove District Council is currently working on the review of its Local Plan and new sites for employment development will form a key strand of this work.
“The Call for Sites undertaken by the district council last year generated a lot of interest for development in Bromsgrove and these sites will be considered in further detail as work on the plan progresses.”